DIVISION I REGIONAL PLAYOFFS
Tigers unrelenting in
Beating Bulldogs again
Massillon runs past McKinley 35‑19,
By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor
This time, the Tigers made it look easy.
Two weeks after their dramatic three‑point victory over arch‑rival Canton McKinley, the Massillon Tigers parlayed a defense that held the Bulldogs without a first down for over two quarters and an offense that was 4‑of‑4 on fourth down while generating its usual 400 yards into a convincing 35‑19 victory in a regional semifinal game witnessed by 21,203 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.
this is uncharted territory for the Tigers during the Rick Shepas era,
"I don't know," Shepas said. "There, have been some great ball games in the four years I've been head coach here. I don't know if I'd consider this the biggest win.
"This is where I pictured our team to be last year and we didn't get it done. We're working hard with determination. We'll just keep coaching our kids, trying to get better."
two weeks after McKinley ran up over 400 yards of offense against the Tigers,
"We were just a little more fundamental this time," Shepas explained. "We're taking less risks. We're watching our substitutions and we're asking our kids to work hard."
"We changed things on defense," explained senior linebacker Justin Princehorn. "We played a '50' look against them and I think that shut down their run game."
Indeed, McKinley netted just 89 yards rushing, 61 of which came on one play. That's 160 yards less than the Bulldog ground game generated in the Week Ten contest.
was the case in the first game,
drive began with a Justin Zwick nine‑yard
completion to Stephon Ashcraft and concluded when Joe
Jovingo laid out to snare a Zwick pass in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown at
5:39 of the third quarter. David Abdul's point‑after made it
Throughout the drive, the Tigers continually beat the McKinley blitz as the Bulldogs sold out to try to get pressure on Zwick.
"We thought McKinley would bring more pressure than they did in the first game," observed Zwick.
"Tonight they blitzed us and we had stuff counteract it and it worked for us."
"Justin Zwick was very determined tonight," Shepas said. "Our offensive line has improved greatly during the season and you saw that tonight. And I can't say enough about our backfield combination of those three guys (Zwick, Robert Oliver and Ricky Johnson) back there."
Zwick, who passed the 10,000‑yard mark in career passing yardage on the touchdown pass that capped the game‑clinching third‑quarter drive, savored the victory for its historical significance.
"Our guys came out and we executed the way we wanted to," Zwick said. "The defense played a great game, we did our thing on offense and scored some points.
"It's ‑ real special. It's the first time the Tigers have beat the Bulldogs twice in the same year since 1963."
Tigers scored the first time they touched the football after the
Junior running back Ricky Johnson ‑ who left the game in the first half with an ankle sprain ‑ took a handoff and hit into the middle of the McKinley line on third‑and‑two from the 41, and cut left for a 13‑yard gain and a first down at the McKinley 46.
Zwick then found Ashcraft wide open along the left sideline for 20 yards to the Bulldogs' 26.
plays later, on third‑and‑10, Zwick
zeroed in on Devin Jordan in the right corner of the end zone for a 26‑yard
touchdown at 7:02 of the first quarter. Abdul drilled the extra point and
was forced to punt after running four plays but the Tigers fumbled the kick and
the Bulldogs recovered at the
teams traded punts with
Zwick hit Ashcraft on a seam pass for 16 yards, but it took a clutch three‑yard
run by Oliver on a fourth‑and‑one play for
McKinley countered on its ensuing possession when Gilmer went around right end and sprinted 61 yards to paydirt to cap a three‑play drive. Matt Campbell's conversion kick was good and the Bulldogs had cut their deficit to 13‑7 at 3:42 of the first half.
Two plays later, on thirdand‑two from the 12, Zwick rolled left and found Ashcraft, who made a leaping catch along the left sideline at the 1.
Zwick called his own number on a bootleg around left end and walked into the
end zone with just nine seconds to play in the half. The Tigers went for the
two point‑conversion and Zwick completed an
The Tigers added another touchdown at 3:22 of the third quarter When Robert Oliver snagged a middle screen pass and picked his way into the end zone from 12 yards out, capping a nine‑play, 64 yard drive. Abdul's extra point kick closed the scoring for the Tigers.
"We came out and wanted to make a little bit of history by beating them twice in a season and we got it done," said Oliver, who had a game‑high 76 yards rushing. "It was all in the preparation during the week. That and our enthusiasm got it done. The difference between this game and the one two weeks ago is we settled down and played our game."
"We're on our way now," added Princehorn. "Everyone said this is the year to do it and that's what we're going to do." "I think this is our biggest win because it is a another step closer to our goal," pointed out Tiger co‑captain Marquis Williams. "The closer we get to our goal, the bigger the wins are."
First downs rushing 12 3
First downs passing 12 4
First downs by penalty 0 3
TOTAL first downs 24 10
Net yards rushing 163 89
Net yards passing 239 123
TOTAL yards 402 212
Passes attempted 33 20
Passes completed 24 10
Passes intercepted 1 1
Punts 4 5
Punting average 43.5 35.0
Fumbles/Lost 2/1 4/2
Penalties 7 2
Yards penalized 70 15
McKINLEY 0 7 0 12 19
MAS ‑ Oliver 15 run (Kick failed)
McK ‑ Gilmer 61 run (
‑ Zwick 1 run (
MAS ‑ Jovingo 7 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
MAS ‑ Oliver 12 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
McK ‑ Gilmer 2 pass from Palumbo (Run failed)
McK ‑ Green 3 pass from Palumbo (Pass failed)
McKinley rushing: Palumbo 10‑17, Gilmer 9‑70.
McKinley passing: Palumbo 10‑20‑123 2 TDs, INT.
McKinley receiving: Smith 2‑45, Gilmer 2‑23, Corner 2‑15,
Statistics courtesy of RICHARD CUNNINGHAM