Tigers flatten Fitch
from 7-0 deficit for 40-point win
By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Writer
If ever there was a perfect opponent for the Massillon Tigers on the heels of their disappointing loss at St. Ignatius last week, it was the reeling Austintown Fitch Falcons.
a program that gave the Tigers fits during the mid‑ and late‑1980s
and early‑90s, put up precious little resistance after an impressive game‑opening
It was a game that saw several impressive individual performances by the Tigers.
- Justin Zwick passed for 314 yards and five touchdowns with an 18‑of‑32 performance.
- Devon Jordan caught nine passes for 149 yards and five touchdowns.
- Robert Oliver rushed for 131 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries.
"We wanted Justin to do the job he is capable of doing as a quarterback and he did that today," said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. "And we just want to continue to improve. We've been in a number of big games the last couple of years and it is going to payoff. Our guys continue to get better all year long and it's going to be a fight every week."
knew after last week we had to bounce back and show everyone we weren't bogged
down and everything," said
Fitch executed its first possession with a passion and precision that belied its 1‑3 record, taking the opening kickoff and marching 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 7‑0 lead.
Falcons utilized a no‑huddle offense to keep the
quarterback Steve Burnich was on target early,
hitting wideout Ross Watson for 15 yards and a first
down to move the ball to the
The drive appeared to have stalled when the Falcons set up for third‑and‑10 at the 26. But Williams ran a fade route to the left corner of the end zone and outfought the Tiger defensive back to haul in Burnich's high‑arcing pass for the touchdown. Shea Stewart added the extra point at 6:47 of the first quarter.
The Tigers countered by moving from their 31 to the Fitch 32 as Oliver ran for 23 yards and caught a 14‑yard pass from Zwick. After a nine‑yard Zwick‑to‑Joe Jovingo aerial, the drive stalled.
David Abdul salvaged it by connecting on a 49‑yard field goal to make it a 7‑3 game at 4:22 of the first quarter.
got two first downs on its ensuing possession on two Burnich‑to‑Williams
passes but the drive stalled at midfield and the Falcons' punt rolled out of
bounds at the
The Tigers then drove the length of the field, moving 90 yards in 11 plays while eating almost five minutes off the game clock.
Again Oliver was the main man, rushing the football seven times for 42 yards.
holding penalty on
The Tigers took over at their 35 and went back to the quick‑strike mode that characterized their offense in the first four weeks of the season.
third‑and‑eight from the 37, Zwick rolled
right and threw a strike to
was true on the conversion kick and
Zwick zeroed in on Jovingo for a 16‑yard gain on second down to advance the ball to the Falcon 28.
Three plays later, a Zwick pass went through the hands of A.J. Collins and into the hands of Jovingo for an eight‑yard pick‑up and another first down at the 13‑yard line.
"Devin Jordan is really proving to be a big‑play receiver," said Shepas. "He has done it all year. He continues to run well with the football after the catch.
neat thing about
taking advantage of a 51‑yard kickoff return, drove to the
first down from the
"Rickey Johnson ran 20 yards downfield to make the block," gushed Shepas. "That was the best block of the night and a very unselfish play by Rickey."
Tigers tacked on 17 more points on an 11‑yard Zwick‑to‑Jordan
touchdown pass, a jaw‑dropping 53‑yard field goal by Abdul, and
Johnson's 55‑yard scoring jaunt down the left sideline that was made
possible by a textbook seal block by
tell us we all can catch but the thing we have to do is block,"
First downs rushing 9 6
First downs passing 14 7
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 24 16
Net yards rushing 248 56
Net yards passing 314 188
TOTAL yards 562 244
Passes attempted 33 24
Passes completed 18 12
Passes intercepted 0 2
Punts 1 5
Punting average 30 36
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 4/2
Penalties 13 2
Yards penalized 110 20
FITCH 7 0 7 0 14
F ‑ Williams 26‑yard pass from Burnich (Stewart kick)
M ‑ Abdul 49‑yard field goal
M ‑ Oliver 3‑yard run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Jovingo 77‑yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
F ‑ Williams 69‑yard pass from Burnich (Stewart kick)
M ‑ Abdul 53‑yard field goal M ‑ Johnson 55‑yard run (Abdul kick)
Austintown Fitch rushing: Betts 17‑47, Tate 9‑41.
Austintown Fitch passing: Burnich 12‑24‑188 2 TDs, 2 INTs.
Austintown Fitch receiving: Williams 5‑123, Betts 2‑11.