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Bulldogs’ big plays take down Tigers

By CHRIS EASTERLING
The Independent

Massillon came into Saturday afternoon’s game against archrival McKinley as the team boasting the big-play ability. But it was the Bulldogs who seemed to make the biggest plays when needed in the 118th meeting between the two storied programs.

And those big plays – be it on offense, defense or special teams – proved to be the difference as McKinley snapped a four-game losing streak to the Tigers with a 35-21 victory over Massillon in front of 15,555 at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon.

McKinley had three touchdowns of 25 yards or more in the game. None of the Tigers’ three scoring plays were by more than two yards.

“They made a lot of big plays,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “You have to take your hat off to them. They really made some big plays, just too many for us to recover from.”

The Tigers now head into the playoffs with a 7-3 record. Massillon will be hosting a first-round game next Saturday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, likely against Hoover, the same team which beat the Tigers in the first round last year in North Canton.

McKinley, meanwhile, likely earned a trip to the playoffs with its first two-game win streak of the season. The Bulldogs, who are now 6-4, are expected to head to Toledo to meet Whitmer next weekend.

The Bulldogs set the big-play tone on their third play after a missed Tiger field goal, as quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky hit Angelo Powell on a post pattern for a 66-yard touchdown pass with 5:09 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead after the point-after try.

“It really got the nerves off our shoulders,” said Ohradzansky, who was 7-of-10 for 136 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Powell. “They shut us out last year 17-0. So when we come out and score right away, it gave our guys a real sense of confidence, like ‘Hey, we can score on these guys and we can do it really, really fast.”

Ohradzansky would add a 1-yard plunge for a 14-0 Bulldog lead 1:36 into the second quarter. But the Tigers would come back with a 1-yard Jake Reiman plunge to cut it to 14-7 with 3:46 left in the half.

Reiman, who finished with 50 yards on 16 carries and three scores, came into the game after Alex Winters suffered an apparent knee injury on the first play of the Tigers’ second possession. That’s when McKinley would get big play No. 2, and maybe the biggest play of the game.

Taron Montgomery would take the subsequent kickoff at McKinley 2, run straight ahead, cut to the left and then took off. He wouldn’t be touched until he was tackled well after crossing the goal line by a Massillon player, but the score stood and the Bulldog lead was 14 again at 21-7 with 3:33 left until halftime.

“It’s a momentum swing,” said Hall, whose team trailed 21-14 at halftime. “In big games, special teams a lot of times are the factor. That was a big play for them.” Massillon offense reached McKinley’s territory on all nine
possessions of the game. But the Tigers were turned away on five trips inside the Bulldog 35, once on a missed field goal, another on an interception on their second drive, twice on downs and a final time when time expired in the game.

“We were just relentless,” McKinley defensive lineman Jamaal McClain said. “We went through practice all week talking about going hard. … We just wanted to play hard and relentless. That’s all we did. We were just focused and ready to play.”

Both of the turnovers on down came in the third quarter after McKinley moved ahead 28-21 on Ohradzansky’s second touchdown pass of the game. The first came from the Bulldog 24 on fourthand-10, the second from the McKinley 17 on a fourth-and-8.

“Sometimes in these big games, we were down and trying to get momentum back,” Hall said. “You don’t know when you’re going to get back again. We tried one early and we didn’t hit. We just decided we were in that tweener area. A couple times they made plays and a couple times that’s when we got scores.”

Massillon seemed to have a chance with just under six minutes remaining after Reiman’s third scoring run – a 2-yard run – cut it to 28-21. But McKinley answered, as Bryce Wilder ripped off a 25-yard touchdown run with 1:17 left to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive.

Wilder finished with 119 yards on 17 carries. “Bryce Wilder and Elijah Farrakhan, unbelievable,” McKinley
coach Ron Johnson said. “They took care of the football. They squeezed it up and they made plays.”

And plays – big ones – were the reason why the Bulldogs were the ones celebrating with the Victory Bell on Saturday afternoon.

GAME STATS

McKinley 35
Massillon 21

Massillon 00 14 00 07 21
McKinley 07 14 07 07 35

SCORING SUMMARY
McK – Powell 66 pass from Ohradzansky (Forsythe kick)
McK – Ohradzansky 1 run (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 1 run (Geier kick)
McK – Montgomery 92 kickoff return (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 1 run (Geier kick)
McK – Powell 5 pass from Ohradzansky (Forsythe kick)
Mas – Reiman 2 run (Geier kick)
McK – Wilder 25 run (Forsythe kick)
Mas McK
First downs 18 15
Rushes-yards 33-127 42-228
Comp-Att-Int 13-34-1 7-10-0
Passing yards 235 136
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalty yards 4-50 8-64
Records 7-3 6-4
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing:
Massillon – Reiman 16-50 3 TDs; Partridge 8-48; Winters 7-26;
Robey 2-3.
McKinley – Wilder 17-119 TD; Farrakhan 12-77; Ohradzansky 11-26
TD.
Passing:
Massillon – Partridge 13-34-235 TD.
McKinley – Ohradzansky 7-10-136 2 TDs.
Receiving:
Massillon – Olack 5-107; Allman 2-41; Grunder 2-40; Reiman 2-19.
McKinley – Powell 3-83 2 TDs; Parton 2-10; Wilder 1-31; Ogletree
1-12.