Mentor stymies Massillon
By CHRIS EASTERLING
Six plays into the second half, the Massillon Tigers had grabbed control of the momentum and the lead in its game Friday night at Mentor. By the time the third quarter ended, the lead – if not the momentum – had shifted to the Cardinals.
Five plays into the fourth quarter, a Tiger fumble left little question who held the momentum. That momentum eventually carried itself over into a 19-7 Mentor win over Massillon in front of approximately 9,500 at Jerome T. Osbourne Sr. Stadium.
“We score a touchdown, and we think the game’s over,” said Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team falls to 3-2. “It’s like we stopped playing. I don’t know what the problem is. We have to look at the tape, see what the problem is and get them corrected.”
After both teams failed to mount any sort of scoring threat in the first half, the third quarter turned into a shoot-out. It started when the Tigers’ Chris Thornton recovered a pooch kick at the Mentor 35.
Six straight carries by Brian Gamble put Massillon into the end zone, the last of which covered three yards. Steve Schott’s extra point with 9:24 left in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Gamble – who finished with 115 yards on the night – looked like he was venting some of the pent-up anger he had from the first half. He was screaming into the air as he walked off the field at halftime, part of it due to an official’s negation of an apparent Tiger touchdown.
“I thought he played well,” Stacy said of Gamble. “I can’t fault the kids’ effort. I thought we played hard. They just made more plays than we did.”
Bobby Huth appeared to hit Giorgio Jackson on a 50-yard “Hail Mary” pass on the final play of the half. However, the official behind the play came in and ruled the pass incomplete.
Television replays appeared to back up Massillon’s contention. Still, the ruling stood, and it was 0-0 at the intermission.
“They said he rolled over and didn’t have the ball,” Stacy said.
After Gamble’s touchdown, the Tigers didn’t have the ball much more in the third quarter. That’s because Mentor would chew up 79 yards on 15 plays on its subsequent possession, taking off over five minutes of clock time before Bart Tanski hit Brandon James on a 7-yard touchdown strike with 3:54 left.
The extra point kick was wide right, and Massillon kept the lead at 7-6. But not for too long.
“After nearly shutting them down in the first half … obviously they just executed better than we did,” Stacy said. “We scored, and it’s like it lit a fire under them.”
Massillon would go three-and-out on its next possession, and punt it to the Cardinals at their own 49. It would take only six plays for Mentor to march over that distance, thanks to a 30-yard quarterback keeper by Tanski to the Tiger 12.
Bill Deitman would give Mentor the lead for good, bull-rushing his way in from two yards out with 1:40 left in the quarter. The PAT pass was no good, keeping the Cardinal lead at 12-7.
“I think after that (Tiger touchdown) drive, we challenged our team on the bench,” said Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno, whose team is 4-1. “We felt we were a little soft on that series. After that, I thought we controlled the game real well.”
The Tigers would put together one final legitimate scoring threat in the game, starting after Deitman’s run. From its own 35, Massillon moved down to the Mentor 15 – with help from a big 31-yard Huth-to-Gamble strike on the final play of the third quarter.
However, the drive – and most likely the Tigers’ hopes – would end when the Cardinals’ Shane Molder popped the ball loose from the Massillon ballcarrier and Nate Wilson fell on the ball for Mentor at its own 5.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “We killed ourselves with penalties. We put the ball on the ground. We shot ourselves in the foot. Supposedly we didn’t catch the ball in the end zone at the end of the half, I don’t know. We just didn’t make any plays. They made more plays than we did.”
The final nail would be driven in the Tiger coffin with 1:58 remaining as Tanski capped a short four-play, 19-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard run. Kevin Harper’s PAT provided the final margin.
Not that the Tigers have long to dwell on the setback.
“We better get back to work, because we’re playing a better football team next week,” Stacy said, referring to next Friday’s home game with St. Ignatius. “It doesn’t get any easier.”
Massillon 0 0 7 0 7
Mentor 0 0 12 7 19
Mas – Brian Gamble 3 run (Steve Schott kick)
Men – Brandon James 7 pass from Bart Tanski (Kick failed)
Men – Bill Deitman 2 run (Pass failed)
Men – Tanski 3 run (Kevin Harper kick)
Massillon rushing: Gamble 26–115, K.J. Herring 4-29, Tom Leonard 1-1.
Mentor rushing: Deitman 19-78 TD, Tanski 19-75 TD
Massillon passing: Bobby Huth 13-30-108
Mentor passing: Tanski 11-18-102 TD
Massillon receiving: Bryan Sheegog 4-27, Andrew Dailey 3-21, Gamble 2-36.
Mentor receiving: James 4-33 TD, Mike Popelas 3-51.