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NOT QUITE THERE
Bulldog QB flips into endzone with 20 seconds left, winning game and ending Tigers’ season

Chris Easterling
Independent Sports Editor

CANTON Massillon struck first. McKinley struck last.

That final blow by the Bulldogs also was enough to end the Tigers’ season. Dominique Robinson helicoptered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run with 20 seconds left, carrying McKinley to a 30-28 win over Massillon in the 126th meeting between the two rivals in front of about 10,000 Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Massillon, which ended the game at the Bulldog 35 after a reception, would have qualified for the Division II playoffs with a win. Instead, the Tigers head home with their first losing season (4-6) since 2004.

“Our kids fought hard,” Massillon first-year coach Nate Moore said. “Obviously, they’re really disappointed right now. … It’s tough to say goodbye, but you don’t get second chances.”

Robinson may have begged to differ. The McKinley quarterback – who played at Timken last season prior to the merger – had put his team in a 28-24 hole when, while being grabbed by the rushing Tiger defensive line, he threw an ill-advised pass right into the hands of Massillon
defensive end Dakota Dunwiddie.

Dunwiddie picked the ball off at about the Bulldog 15 and returned it for a Tiger touchdown with 3:50 remaining. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Robinson was redeeming himself with the go-ahead touchdown, capping an 11-play, 69-yard McKinley scoring drive.

“I just had to regroup,” said Robinson, who rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns in his first appearance in the rivalry following the merger. “I had to get back. … When I play, I play for my seniors, and I was leaving them out. I had to get them a win.”

Robinson also threw for 272 yards on the day, while McKinley finished with 292 total passing and 418 total offensive yards. On the go-ahead drive, he hit passes of 18 yards on fourth-and-6 to Shaquille Perry and 13 yards on third-and-7 to Tre’On Vance.

The junior also had a pair of third-quarter scoring passes: 23-yards to Zay’Breyon Perry for a 18-14 lead and 5 yards to Vance – who played at Massillon last season – for a 24-21 edge.

The dramatic finish closed out a game that started with almost as big a flourish. Keyshawn Watson took the opening kickoff for Massillon and, after faking a handoff, raced 95 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Tiger lead 15 seconds into the game.

Robinson led McKinley on an answering drive, capping a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 5-yard run with 7:44 left in the first quarter. He also perfectly executed the swinging-gate play on the two-point conversion, giving the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead.

McKinley led 11-7 after a Sam Snyder field goal, but another big return for Massillon – this time a 40-yard punt return by Lee Hurst II to the Bulldog 31 – set it up to take the lead at the half. Watson capped that drive with a 1-yard run with 8:39 remaining in the half, giving the
Tigers a 14-11 lead.

Watson, who topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, finished the day with 113 rushing yards. He accounted for Massillon’s only offensive touchdown of the game with that run, while his rushing yardage accounted for 60 percent of its total yardage.

Massillon only was able to muster 187 yards on 53 plays on the day. It also was stopped late in the first half on a fourth-down play from the Bulldog 11.
“We weren’t able to get into an offensive rhythm,” Moore said. “We missed some throws; we had some missed assignments up front with protection. I think we had some dropped balls. Just can’t do those things.”

What helped the Tigers was their return game. They returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the game – Deionne Harper’s 89-yard return with 10:38 remaining in the third gave Massillon a 21-18 lead.

Massillon averaged 55 yards on five kickoff returns. Hurst’s big return was the lone punt return.

“Here’s the thing, I can’t tell you how much time we spent on special teams this week,” said first-year McKinley coach Dan Reardon, whose team heads into the Division I playoffs at 7-3.

“We normally spend a lot of time on special teams. We spent extra time on it this week.”

GAME STATS