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Panther QB ‘shotguns’ Tigers
Warren edges Tigers With fourth-period TD

By DENNY J HIGHBEN

“Maurice didn’t know the game was lost.”

That’s how Tiger coach Mike Currence summed up the surprising 22‑21 victory by the Warren Harding Panthers Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

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IN A phenomenal fourth quarter, Panther guarterback Maurice Hall pulled out the shotgun and blew the Tigers away. Out of that formation he directed two scoring drives that brought Warren from a 21-7 deficit to a spectacular victory.

The first drive covered 96 yards and Hall accounted for 70 of them yards running and passing. The winning drive went 64 yards and Hall passed or ran for 54 of them.

In all, he rushed 15 times for 102 yards and completed nine of 16 passes for 110 yards. He also scored two of Warren’s three touchdowns, passed for a two‑point conversion and kicked the other two. The final and winning point came with 37 seconds left on the clock.

“It was a nighmare,” a frustrated Currence said after the game. “I’ve never lost one like that before.”

Outside the visitors lockerroom, Warren coach Tom Ross said, “Maurice is a great kid … Boys state, National Honor Society … just great. He’s the kind of kid you want playing quarterback.”

And Hall proved why.

THE FOURTH quarter began with Warren 96 yards away from Massillon’s goal line and trailing by 14 points. Harding gained possession after Tiger quarterback Brent Offenbecher passed to Mike Grove for 34 yards, but Grove fumbled as he was tackled at the four and Harding’s Joe Varley recovered.

The Panthers sputtered on the first two plays and, after an illegal procedure penalty, were facing a third-and-eight from the six. Hall threw a pass that fell incomplete but the Tiger defensive back covering the intended receiver was flagged for holding. That gave Warren a first-and‑ten at the 21 yard line.

Tailback Don Henderson was dropped for a three-yard loss and, on second down, the shotgun appeared. That pass fell incomplete but on third-and‑13 Hall end cocked the shotgun and fired to Sherman Golden for 13 yards on the nose and a first down. Hall repeated the play for another 12 yards and then ran for 12 yards and a first down.

On second‑and‑10 he hit Golden for five yards, then ran for six and another first down. That put the ball at the Tiger 34 and Hall passed to his tight end, Stephan Smith, for 18 yards. Massillon was flagged for a personal foul and the ball went to the seven. Two plays later fullback Ralph Goliday crashed in from three yards out. Hall rolled right on the conversion attempt and hit his tight end for the two points, making the score 21‑15 with 6:13 left in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers started at their 19 after the kickoff, threw two incomplete passes, got penalized for illegal procedure and Offenbecher recovered his own fumble on third down at the seven yard line.

PUNTER MARK Westover had to kick from his own endzone and Warren went for the block. Westover ignored the pressure and came through with a remarkable 57‑yard punt that put Harding on its own 36.

But Hall was not to be stopped. He ran out of the shotgun three of the next four plays and got the ball all the way down to the Massillon 25. The Partners went into an “I” formation on third-and-four and Henderson ran six yards for the first down.

That set the stage for the dramatic finish.

0n first down Henderson was stopped for no gain. On second down Hall’s pass was almost intercepted . On third down Hall threw to Smith in the end zone but the ball was batted away by a Tiger defender.

Fourth down … 10 yards to go … 1:25 remaining…

HALL TOOK the snap in the shotgun, hesitated for a moment, then threw to Golden at the Massillon five for a first down. Henderson ran to the one and Hall kept the ball on the next play and went in for the touchdown to tie the score.

He kicked the ball through the uprights for the 22-21 lead with 37 seconds left.

The Tigers got the ball at their 35 after the kickoff and Offenbecher threw deep to Curtis Strawder, but Strawder had plenty of company and the pass was knocked away. With 20 seconds left Offenbecher threw again but the ball was intercepted by ‑ who else? ‑ Maurice Hall. He returned the ball to the Massillon 30 before being stopped and that play ended the game.

“Hall is so quick in the open field.” Currence said. “We had to drop people back into the pass patterns and the defenders left up front just couldn’t catch him.

“That was the first time they had used me shotgun all year. It was out of desperation. I’m sure they thought the game was lost except for Maurice.”

The teams went into the lockerrooms at the half tied 7‑7.

Massillon’s initial score came in the first period after Hall fumbled on his own 49 yard line and Marc Longshore recovered for the Tigers. Massillon advanced to the Warren 37 and from there Offenbecher completed a 12-yard pass to end Mark Pringle.

(THAT PASS completion made Offenbecher the second Tiger quarterback since passing stats have been kept to pass for over 1,000 yards in a season. He passed for a total of 180 yards in the game, which puts him on top of all quarterbacks with 1,177 yards.)

Five Plays later halfback Greg Carpenter charged in from three yards out. Westover made the conversion version and the Tigers led 7‑0 with 6:37 left to the first quarter.

Warren started a drive at the Panther 31 later in the first period and drove downfield only to have Goliday fumble and Tiger Gene Miller recover at the Massillon 16. But on the Tigers’ first play the ball got away from Grove and Varley recovered – the first of two fumble recoveries for him that would lead to TDs.

Varley recovered the ball on the 12 and Hall immediately rolled to his left and whizzed through the Tigers defense like lightning for a touchdown. He added the extra point to knot the score at 7-7.

Warren had one other scoring shot in the second quarter. Hall tried to kick a 47‑yard field goal but the kick was a bit too wide.

THE TIGERS came out roaring in the third period, marched for touchdowns on their first two possessions and by the end of the quarter it appeared the game was decided.

Offenbecher capped an 86‑yard drive with a 12-yard pass to Grove and Westover ‘s kick made it 14‑7 with 8:05 left in the third.

Warren was shipped cold after the kick‑off punted to Massillon and Marc Longshore made a fair catch at the Tiger 28. With a good mixture of passing and running the Tigers got to Warren’s three in seven plays. Grove ran wide left, got a tremendous double-team block on the Warren defensive end by fullback Richard Cleveland and guard Ken Nagle, and went in for the score. Westover added the conversion and it was 21‑7 with 3:04 to go in the third.

On the first play after the kick‑off, Henderson took off on a 26‑yard run, but two plays later Goliday fumbled and Massillon’s Jeff David recovered at the Tiger 37. That was the beginning of the end for Massillon, for seven plays later Varley recovered Grove’s fumble at the four Hall went to work.

“It’s great to win when you’re a decided underdog,” Ross said after the game. “Now the kids know they can beat a tough team.”

HE SAID the Panthers went to the shotgun to better utilize their talent. “But plays and formations don’t win ball games. It was our players that got it into the end zone,” Ross added.

“We’ve got two real big ones left and we’re going to regroup.” Currence said. “The Tigers will come back.”

Hall appeared injured after running the interception back on the final play. He walked off the field with some assistance after a few moments. When asked if the “man of the evening” was hurt, Ross replied, “No, it was just a case of exhaustion and leg cramps. You know, he did a lot of running in the fourth quarter.”

And how.

GRIDSTICK
M W
First downs rushing 9 14
First downs passing 9 6
First downs penalties 1 1
Total first downs 19 21
Yards gained rushing 122 222
Yards lost rushing 12 13
Net yards gained rushing 90 209
Net yards gained passing 180 110
Total yards gained 270 319
Passes attempted 25 16
Passes Completed 14 9
Passes intercepted by 0 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 0 38
Times kicked off 4 4
Kickoff average (yards) 46.0 46.5
Kickoff returns (yards) 55 82
Times punted 4 4
Punt average (yards) 16.8 45.0
Punt returns (yards) 0 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 3 3
Lost fumbled ball 2 3
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 48 10
Touchdowns rushing 2 3
Touchdowns passing 1 0
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Total number of plays 54 62
Total time of possession 21:11 26:49

Massillon 7 0 14 0 21
Warren 0 7 0 15 22

M – Greg Carpenter, 3 run, (Mark Westover kick);
W – Maurice Hall, 12, run, (Hall kick);
M – Mike Grove, 12 pass from Offenbecher, (Westover kick);
M – Grove, 3 run, (Westover kick);
W – Ralph Goliday, 3 run, (Stephan Smith pass from Hall);
W – Hill, 1 run, (Hall kick).

Paid attendance: 10,662.

Tim Daniels