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‘Best 3‑4 team in country ‘ Tigers sack South 38‑0

STEVE DOERSCHUK
Independent Sports Editor

For the first time in more than a month, the end of a football game didn’t hurt for B.J. Payne.

“We’ve got to be the best 3‑4 team in the county,” Massillon’s punishing defensive tackle said after the Tigers snapped a four game losing streak with a 38‑0 romp over Bloomington (Ind.) South before 9,571 Saturday in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Payne didn’t like the sound of that. After all, this was a 7‑0 team the Tigers had tamed.

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“No,” Payne said, “We’ve got to be the best 3‑4 team in the state.

Payne still didn’t like the ring. Shucks, the Tigers had put up their first shutout of the year against some guys whose chances of winning the Indiana state title are supposed to be better than in 1991, when South made the state semifinals.

“We may be the best 3‑4 team in the country,” Payne said.

He grinned. That sounded right.

It was grins all around for the Tigers, who hadn’t won since Sept. 11, when they outlasted Walsh Jesuit 28‑24 in overtime.

Head coach Jack Rose, who hadn’t wanted it to be that way in his first year on the job, didn’t really sound relieved. He sounded more like a man who knew this sort of business was coming.

“These guys never did stop practicing well,” Rose said of his 3-4 team. “I was saying again all week that we were having a great week of practice. A lot of people thought I was blowing smoke I wasn’t. These guys have never given up on themselves.

It was an early blowout. Massillon led 32‑0 at halftime. The first‑stringers for the most part got in one more series in the second half then took a rest.

How could this be? How could the Tigers wipe out an Indiana team Hoosier State football types were saying was about as strong as the Indianapolis North‑Central squad that beat the tigers 35‑20 one week earlier?

Mo Moriarty, the Bloomington South head coach, suggested a couple of reasons. This time, Moriarty said, it was the Indiana team and not Massillon that had to put up with the long bus trip. The other factor: The Tigers are tough customers.

“This kind of trip is too long for high school kids,” Moriarty said. “We checked into the motel at 11:30 p.m. Friday and we spent all day away from home, touring the Hall of Fame and a lot of other things. By the time the game came around we were very sluggish.

“But give Massillon a lot of credit. I hate it when a coach gives every reason for a loss except the fact the other team is better. Let’s face it. They beat our butts tonight.

“They were very physical, and they hurt us with the blitz.”

Massillon’s defense was out outstanding South never mounted a serious scoring threat. In the first‑half, when it was first unit against first unit, Massillon led 206‑67 in net offensive yardage. Throw in the kickoff and punt returns of Leon Ashcraft, Dan Hackenbracht and Kevin Buckland and you get another 138 first‑half yards.

In the end, Massillon led 307‑134 in net offensive yards and 220‑122 in punt/kick return yards.

Speaking for his position the TNTs (tackles/nose guards) ‑ Payne said the game plan was superb.

“Coach (Gary) Wells had them figured out pretty well,” Payne said. “I don’t think they had a clue what our defense was going to throw at them next.”

The defense wound up throwing the Panthers for 41 yards in losses, resulting in a net rushing total of minus‑2 yards.

Payne seemed to be happiest about the performance of the Tigers’ offense.

“They really made our job easy tonight,” he said “It was a never‑ending story. They just kept scoring and scoring and scoring.”

The Tigers used a mix of superb field position, passing and running to blow it open early.

On three different occasions, the early part of a touchdown drive included an 18‑yard completion from quarterback Mike Danzy to Jerry May.

“One of the things we worked on this week with Mike was looking to pass to the second level,” Rose said. “He had been tending to overlook the second level and throw deep. Tonight, he did a nice job going to the second level.”

Danzy wound up completing 6‑of‑11 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed four times for 37 yards.

Leon Ashcraft got the night off to a flying start when he returned the opening kick 57 yards to the South 32‑yard line.

The first play from scrimmage was one of those 18‑yard completions to May. Dan Seimetz scored from 3 yards out and Jason Brown converted the kick to make it 7‑0 with just 91 seconds gone in the game.

A long punt return by Hackenbracht to the South 22 set up the second Tiger TD.

“They had a weird way of covering punts,” Hackenbracht said. “They stayed back on the line of scrimmage longer than most teams.”

An 11‑yard option run by Danzy set up Andre Stinson’s 2‑yard run for a touchdown. South was penalized on the point‑after try, but the Tigers still elected to try for a kick with the ball 11/2 yards away. The snap went awry and the score stayed at 13‑0 with 3:00 left in the first quarter.

South went three‑and‑out, Hackenbracht returned a punt to near midfield, and the Tigers went to the run. Gains of 7, 9, 9, 4 and 17 yards put the ball on the 13, from where Hackenbracht bounced off a block by Stinson and went around the left side for an easy six. The conversion run failed and it was 19‑0 with 9:13 left in the second quarter.

South’s offense again was stuffed and Buckland returned a punt to the Panther 43. A procedure penalty cost the Tigers 5 yards but Danzy compensated by hitting May for 18 yards on the next play. The rest of the series featured more running. Stinson scored from a yard out, the conversion run attempt failed, and the Tigers led 25‑0 with 3:40 left in the half.

Moriarty gambled late in the half. South punched the ball to near midfield where it was fourth‑and‑one. The Tigers snowed under quarterback Eli Stoddard on a sneak attempt with 1: 55 left in the half.

The Tigers used the field position to drive 46 yards. Danzy scored from 5 yards out, Brown kicked the P.A.T., and it was 32‑0 with 54 seconds left in the half.

South’s last gasp was a 25 yard completion on the first play of the second half. A Vic Murray sack led to another punt, a 50‑yard punt return by Buckland, and a 14‑yard TD pass from Danzy to Eddie Griffith. The kick was wide but the Tigers led 38‑0 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

After that, Rose substituted freely.

The Tigers will be back at Tiger Stadium Friday to take on Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary.

St. V fell to 3‑4 Saturday with a 17‑0 loss to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, the state’s sixth ranked team in Division‑III.

MASSILLON 38
SOUTH 0
M S
First downs rushing 15 0
First downs passing 5 6
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 20 6
Yards gained rushing 217 39
Yards lost rushing 4 41
Net yards rushing 213 ‑2
Net yards passing 94 136
Total yards gained 307 134
Passes attempted 13 22
Passes completed 7 10
Interceptions 1 0
Times kicked off 7 1
Kickoff average 51.7 49.0
Kickoff return yards 57 122
Punts 2 7
Punting average 33.0 34.9
Punt return yards 163 0
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 4 2
Yards penalized 33 17
Number of plays … 59 45
Time of possession 26:31 21:29
South 1 0 0 0 0
Massillon 13 19 6 0 38

M ‑ Hackenbracht 3 run (Brown kick)
M ‑ Stinson 2 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Hackenbracht 13 run (run failed)
M ‑ Stinson I run (run failed)
M ‑ Danzy 5 run (Brown kick)
M ‑ Griffith 14 pass from Danzy (kick failed)

Dan Hackenbracht