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Miscues costly for Tigers

By CHRIS EASTERLING

Massillon coach Tom Stacy talked all week about how the Solon Comets weren’t about to beat themselves. And on Friday night, they didn’t.

The Tigers, however, made enough miscues to beat themselves. That fact, coupled with Solon’s strong all-around showing, resulted in a 10-3 Massillon loss at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“We made some mistakes, and we just didn’t make some plays,” said Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team is 1-1 for the first time in his three-year tenure.

Massillon turned the ball over three times, while Solon (2-0) had no turnovers in the game. One of those turnovers – a muffed punt at the Tiger 6 with just over five minutes left – set up the Comets’ go-ahead touchdown, a 1-yard Jim Geitz run.

Of course, the Comet defense played a big part in the Tigers’ struggles. Massillon – a week after gaining 443 yards, including 268 on the ground – was held to 107 total yards by Solon. The Tigers rushed for 63 yards, with no ball carrier gaining more than 25 yards.

“It’s just a lot of heart and a lot of hard work,” said Geitz, who led all rushers with 128 yards. “All of our kids, they just throw all of their heart out there all the time, our defense especially. They just put (it all) on the line every single play, that’s what got us those turnovers.”

The Tigers had chances throughout, reaching at least the Comet 27 four different times. Only once did that result in points, when Steve Schott knocked through a 44-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the first half to tie the game at 3-3.

One drive ended with a fumble at the Solon 24 in the first quarter, while another resulted in a 49-yard field goal falling short in the third quarter. The most disappointing may have come on the first drive in the second half, when Justin Turner set the Tigers up in good field position with an 87-yard kickoff return to the Solon 3.

But three running plays netted two yards, leaving Massillon with a fourth-and-goal inside the Comet 1. The fourth-down play was stuffed by the center of the Solon defense, leaving the game knotted at 3-3.

“You get the ball on the one-foot line or wherever we had it on down there, you have to punch it in, but we didn’t do it,” Stacy said. “They stopped us, and give them credit.”

The Tigers couldn’t get into Solon territory in the fourth quarter, after both third-quarter drives did. They appeared to ready to get the ball back with just over five minutes remaining, but the punt was mishandled by the return man, and Solon fell on it inside the Tiger 10.

Three straight Geitz runs – the last from 1-yard out – managed to break the deadlock, giving the Comets the lead for good with 5:08 remaining. The Tigers’ last possession resulted in an interception by Tyler Rodman, who snagged a bobbled pass for Solon.

“We just didn’t make plays,” Stacy said. “We had plays in the passing game; we had three or four drops. We just didn’t make enough plays.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Solon cracked the scoreboard first with a 35-yard Pat Jacobs field goal with 4:04 remaining in the first half. The kick capped a nine-play drive which started on the Comet 46.

The Tigers didn’t stay behind for long. Key by two big pass plays – one to Turner and another to Giorgio Jackson – Massillon took the ball from its own 33 to the Comet 27 on its next drive.

But the drive stalled at that point, and Schott was called upon to boot a 44-yard field goal. He did, with room to spare, to tie things up at 3-3.

GAME STATS