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Tigers beat up on Buchtel

By CHRIS EASTERLING

The Massillon Tigers were looking for a prescription to cure themselves of the recent struggles they have been through recently. Fortunately for them, the Buchtel Griffins were just the medicine they needed.

Massillon matched its best first-half point production this season, and carried that on through to the end of a 48-14 win over the struggling Griffins in front of 7,014 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“It’s like a weight off our shoulders, definitely,” Tiger center Blake Seidler said. “I really don’t know how to explain it. It’s a mixed feeling. It’s a win, at the same time, you just have to, I don’t know, take it one at a time, I guess. It’s kind of hard to explain.”

The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Tigers, who improve to 3-4 with a visit from Warren Harding forthcoming next Friday. Buchtel, which has struggled in Ricky Powers’ first season at the helm of his alma mater, fell to 1-6.

Things were academic by halftime, when the Tigers led 31-6. K.J. Herring added the topper to start the second half, when he returned the kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and a 38-6 lead.

Herring had his best all-around game of the season, in large part because the Tigers were without the services of DeVoe Torrence. Torrence was out with a sprained ankle.

Making the most of the chance, Herring rushed for 157 yards on 12 carries with touchdown runs of 42 and 70 yards.

“It felt good,” Herring said. “It felt really good. I talked to the linemen – I talked to everybody on the team – and I just asked them, ‘We need to come together and finish this out.’ I’m really proud, because everybody came up, even the people who came in. … We just all came together and it worked out.”

Massillon’s offense scored on five of its seven first-half possessions to build up its 25-point edge. One of the two drives the Tigers were stopped on, they still managed to get the ball back on a fumbled punt at the Buchtel 46.

The Tigers were aided by great field position throughout the half, something that wasn’t the case in last week’s loss at St. Ignatius. Massillon’s worst starting position was its own 34 against Buchtel; its best starting position against the Wildcats was its own 28.

“That’s what you have to do if you want to win in high school football week in and week out,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said of the field position. “That’s what we did tonight.”

The first two Tiger drives started on the Buchtel side of the 50, including their first drive, which started at the Griffin 2 after a blocked punt. That drive took all of one play – a 2-yard Steve Yoder run – to crack the end zone.

Justin Turner’s 11-yard run on a direct snap made it 14-0 after Steve Schott’s PAT kick.

Buchtel – which actually had more first-half yards than Massillon, 173-165 – cracked the scoreboard with six seconds left in the first quarter. That came on a 27-yard Tahj Dent-to-Dominique Gray pass, although the subsequent two-point run failed to keep it at 14-6.

Massillon scored on its final three second-quarter possessions – after it forced the fumble on the punt less than two minutes into the quarter. The Tigers made it 45-6 after Herring ripped off a 70-yard run on Massillon’s first second-half play.

Buchtel’s offense wasn’t exactly stifled through the course of the evening. The Griffins mustered 310 yards for the game – five fewer than Massillon – and had a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut it to 45-14 with less than a minute left in the third quarter.

“Our defense was on the field a lot tonight,” Stacy said. “I think in the third quarter, they were on the field for almost the entire quarter.” By then, though, many in the crowd were more interested in what was going on in the Indians’ American League Division Series game against the Yankees. There was a loud, sustained roar from the crowd when Travis Hafner’s game-winning hit was shown on the video screen during a break in the action.

The last bit of intrigue came with 5:52 left, when Schott booted a 28-yard field goal for a 48-14. The kick tied him with David Abdul for Massillon’s career field goal record with 29.

GAME STATS