Offensive woes lead to Massillon’s second straight loss this year
By CHRIS EASTERLING
PARMA – The Massillon Tigers arrived in Parma for Friday’s game with Normandy as a team looking to put a disappointing loss to Solon the rear-view mirror. They departed a team which may very well stand at a crossroads in a season which carried such preseason promise, yet now stands on shaky ground.
Such are the facts of life on the heels of a disappointing 27-13 loss to the Invaders at Byers Field.
The loss drops Massillon to 1-2 on the season. All the Tigers have awaiting them in September are home games against a talented Ursuline team and the reigning Division I state runners-up Mentor, and a return trip to Parma to meet St. Ignatius.
Adding injury to insult is the fact the Tigers likely have lost junior Justin Turner for an extended period of time with a high ankle sprain, and reserve safety Cooper Ivan to a leg fracture.
“I haven’t been at a crossroads with a football team in a long, long time,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “I’m not sure what one is. Obviously, we don’t have a lot of confidence on offense. We tried everything.”
Yet, Massillon could not, for the second straight game, discover the offense which was so explosive in the second half against Middletown. The Tigers have scored just one touchdown, a 2-yard run by DeVoe Torrence with 1:08 left which cut the Normandy lead to 20-13, in the last eight quarters.
The Tigers finished Friday’s game with 198 yards of offense, with an equal number on the ground and through the air, 99 yards each. Massillon had 12 first downs in the game, seven of those prior to halftime.
“We tried everything,” Stacy said. “We tried to go outside, we tried to go inside. We tried to throw the ball quick, we tried to throw the ball quickly. We tried pretty much everything we had. We just couldn’t get it going.”
Normandy, meanwhile dominated the line of scrimmage, especially on offense. The Invaders rushed for 205 yards on 41 carries, with Russ Galeti gaining 146 yards and scoring three touchdowns.
“All I preach is we out hit our opponents,” said Normandy coach Rich Turner, whose team is 3-0. “We know we don’t have the skill our opponents have. But if we out hit opponents and control the line, we can turn it into a scrum game, and that’s what it looked like an awful lot.”
The first four minutes of the game summed up the Tigers’ fortunes on the night. The Invaders caught Massillon with an onside kick on the opening kickoff, and recovered it at the Tiger 40.
“We did same thing against Elyria last year,” Turner said. “Elyria was a big favorite in that game. We got two in that game. I’m sort of disappointed we only got one tonight.”
Two plays later, though, Kevin Massey came up with an interception at the Massillon 4. But the Tigers gave it right back six plays later with a fumble at their own 40, which was returned four yards to the Massillon 36.
A 35-yard run by Galeti and the subsequent extra point made it 7-0 Normandy with 8:14 left in the first quarter. The Tigers answered with a drive to the Invader 4, but needed Steve Schott to boot a 22-yard field goal – the first of two first-half kicks for the senior – to cut it to 7-3 with 4:16 remaining in the quarter.
Another long Galeti run, this one of 48 yards, made it 13-3 after the PAT was missed with 8:53 remaining in the half. Again, Schott would help the Tigers whittle away at the lead with a 31-yard field goal with 1:59 left before the band show, making it 13-6.
Galeti would open up a two-touchdown edge with 4:01 left with a 4-yard run, increasing it to 20-6. Torrence would cap a furious Tiger drive against a Normandy prevent defense with his touchdown run, but the subsequent onside kick attempt was returned 50 yards for a score by the Invaders’ Jordan Ebinger.