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EMOTIONS RUN TOO HIGH
Mentor knocks off Tigers 25-17 in game marred by silly mistakes

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

Mentor –

The Massillon Tigers faced two opponents on Friday night at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium. The first was the Mentor Cardinals; the second was themselves.

Just facing one of those would have been tough enough for Massillon, facing both was just too much to handle as the Tigers, who saw their two-game win streak halted by a 25-17 loss to Mentor in front of about 6,500 fans.

“I think our kids played too hard tonight,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “I think once we look at it, we just made one too many mistakes. They had a kickoff return for a touchdown, and just had some undisciplined penalties when our kids are really caught up emotionally in the game. But they were playing hard, but it all comes down to us missing a field goal and not scoring in the red zone. That lost us the game.”

And may eventually cost the Tigers a shot at the playoffs. Massillon falls to 5-4 on the season, with its traditional season finale against McKinley next Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers were sitting at No. 9 in Division I Region 2 in this week’s computer rankings. A win over the 6-3 Bulldogs would certainly help Massillon’s chances, but may not necessarily be enough.

What Hall and the Tigers may focus on mostly out of Friday’s loss is the penalties, which were crushing. Massillon was flagged 11 times for 92 yards – including a pair of accepted personal fouls, and at least two other offsetting personal fouls – but it was as much about the timing as the penalties themselves.

“It was an emotional, physical game, and sometimes you get too wrapped up into it,” Hall said. “Sometimes you have to take one, and that’s what we talk about. Sometimes it’s not the person who initiates it, but it’s the person who comes back.”

Trailing 14-7 early in the second quarter, and with the ball at their own 30, the Tigers were flagged for three straight penalties – including a hold – to move the ball to their own 9. Mentor then got a safety to take a 16-7 lead.

An intentional grounding penalty with the ball on the Mentor 6 and the Tigers down 25-14 pushed Massillon back to the Cardinal 22. The Tigers eventually had to settle for a 29-yard Jeremy Geier field goal to start the fourth quarter to cut it to 25-17.

But the most costly sequence may have come with just a little more than eight minutes left and Massillon facing a fourth-and-3 at the Cardinal 7. The Tigers tried to draw Mentor offsides, but jumped at the same time the Cardinals did to draw the illegal procedure penalty.

Mentor then blocked the field goal try on the 4th-and-8 play to turn the Tigers away.

“We just jumped too,” Hall said. “We went out there, we didn’t even have a play called. We practice it and practice it, and we got them, but we happened to pull our own selves offside as well. It was just a situation where we were going to try to force the penalty or kick the field goal, and we had to kick the field goal.”

Massillon had one last chance after Cooper Ivan stripped the Mentor ball carrier and returned it to the Cardinal 11. However, the Tigers were turned away on fourth-and-2 from the Mentor 3, and the Cardinals ran out the clock

The Tigers drove onto the Mentor side of the 50 five times in the second half, including four times inside the 30. However, those drives netted just three points.

In the first half, the Tigers were 2 of 2 in red-zone scoring chances, with Robert Partridge hitting Bo Grunder for an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. Partridge also hit Kyle Pizzino on a 5-yard strike to cut the deficit to 19-14 at the intermission.

Massillon also saw a 179-yard rushing effort from J.T. Turner go by the boards as well. Turner benefited from a strong push from the Tiger offensive line, which held its own on the line of scrimmage for most of the night.

“I think we did a good job up front,” Hall said. “

The mistakes spoiled a strong effort from the Tiger defense, which held Mentor to just 217 yards of offense on the night. They also forced six three and outs, and twice kept the Cardinals from scoring on drives into Massillon territory.

Seven of Mentor’s points came on an 85-yard kickoff return by Mike Korecz which tied the score at 7-7 with 5:27 left in the first quarter. Another two points came on the safety.

The only substantial drive came on the Cardinals’ first true scoring drive, when they took 13 plays to march 42 yards to take a 14-7 lead. Tom Worden scored from 2-yards out for the touchdown.

“You can’t say enough about our defense against this offense,” Hall said. “I thought (defensive coordinator Steve) Kovacs and his staff had a great game plan and they executed.”

GAME STATS

Mentor 25,

Massillon 17

at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium

Massillon 07 07 00 03 17
Mentor 07 12 06 00 25

SCORING SUMMARY
Mas – Grunder 8 pass from Partridge (Geier kick)
Men – Korecz 85 kickoff return (Klisuric kick)
Men – Worden 2 run (Klisuric kick)
Men – Safety, sack in end zone
Men – Klisuric 39 FG
Mas – Pizzino 5 pass from Partridge (Geier kick)
Men – Worden 21 pass from Mayse (Pass failed)
Mas – Geier 29 FG

Mas Men
First down 9 12
Rushes-yards 38-168 42-129
Comp-att.-int. 11-23-1 10-19-0
Passing yards 111 88
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2
Penalty yards 11-92 9-76

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing

Massillon: Turner 30-179; Roberson 1-4; Clark 1-1.

Mentor: 21-85 TD; Korecz 14-49.

Passing

Massillon: 9-20-98 2 TDs, INT; Clark 1-2-10; McCormick 1-1-3.

Mentor: Mayse 10-19-88 TD.

Receiving

Massillon: Zimmerman 4-26; Grunder 3-25 TD; Pizzino 2-10 TD; Clark 1-40; Turner 1-10.

Mentor: Johanek 4-24; Worden 3-51 TD; Korecz 1-7; McKnight 1-4; Hanzlik 1-2.

Records:

Massillon 5-4;

Mentor 7-2.