Tigers secure first
playoff win since 1994
Ground game, defense key
31‑0 rout of Marion Harding
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die? and if
you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
- William Shakespeare
By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor
It was a payback time for the Tigers, who lost a controversial 17‑13 first round playoff decision to Marion Harding a year ago in a game that also saw 15 penalties called on Massillon, including a holding flag that nullified what would have been the game‑winning touchdown run by quarterback Justin Zwick in the final minute of play.
While revenge was not a topic of public discussion the week preceding the game, the Tigers admitted afterward that last year's disappointing playoff ouster was in the back of their minds in the days leading up to the game.
"We got some revenge tonight," Zwick admitted. "We talked about it as a team this week and it helped us focus on what we needed to do."
Zwick threw for two touchdowns but it was his contributions to the running
game that helped put Marion Harding away. The 6‑foot‑5, 221‑pound
senior rushed six times for 68 yards as
was Justin's best game of the year," said Tiger coach Rick Shepas, who got
his first playoff victory in three tries at
was a study, in balanced offense as the Tigers rushed for 243 yards and passed
for 172 yards, keeping
It was also the Tiger defense's finest hour. Free safety Markeys Scott had two interceptions ‑ including a perfectly timed pick deep in Massillon territory on Marion's first possession of the night ‑ and outside linebacker Andy Alleman played like a man possessed as Marion quarterback Adam Huddle was forced into four turnovers.
"As a defense, we felt as if we didn't play very well the last two weeks and we wanted to come out and make up for it tonight," Alleman said. "We didn't feel like we did a good job stopping the run against McKinley or even the week before (against Dayton Chaminade.) Tonight we really got after them as a team."
"We talked about a shutout this week," admitted junior linebacker Shawn Crable. "We just came out with more intensity and did what the coaches told us to do. It sure came at the right time."
Johnson attacked the middle of the
finished off the drive by sweeping around left end for the touchdown at 9:39 of
the third quarter. Abdul's kick made it 17‑0
Speicher's second sack of the game on Huddle midway
through the fourth quarter set up
Tigers went to the ground game. Three straight handoffs to Oliver netted a
total of 33 yards. Then Johnson carried twice in a row for 13 more to give
The icing on the cake was Cody Smith's interception and 31 yards runback of a Huddle aerial to close the scoring at 4:18 of the fourth.
the locker room after the game Shepas decried the spate of penalty flags which
accounted for 143 yards in the wrong direction. He noted the primary flag
thrower was the same official responsible for many of the holding penalties on
even those bad feelings couldn't put a damper on
Harding came out and successfully attacked the
Beginning at the 20 after Abdul's kickoff reached the end zone for a touchback, Presidents' quarterback Adam Huddle hit split end Zack pattern for 14 yards. Three plays later, Huddle hooked up with Dominic Ross for eight more to the 47.
drive appeared to have bogged down on the
when Scott stopped the drive and killed
Zwick picked up a first down on a keeper around right end that netted 12
yards to the 38. Two snaps later he hit Stephon
Ashcraft for 10 yards and a first down at the
The Tigers picked up another first down but the drive stalled after a false start and three incomplete passes. David Abdul's 59‑yard field goal attempt was blocked.
holding penalty on
Zwick gained seven yards and a first down on an option keeper around right
end and a personal foul call against
Marquis Williams turned a short Zwick pass into an 18 yard gain. On the next snap, Joe Jovingo caught what appeared to be a nine‑yard touchdown pass but an illegal shift call against MassilIon negated the score.
Tigers moved to the five but a clipping penalty stalled the drive. Abdul
salvaged three points with a 25‑yard field goal at 6:41 of the second
Alleman's pass rush forced Huddle into a third down incompletion on
Zwick then found Oliver for seven yards and a first down at the
march appeared in trouble after a false start and two incomplete passes that
set up third‑and‑15 at the
The senior running back caught the ball at the 30 along the right hash mark and waited for his blocking to develop, finally cutting to the middle of the field at the 25, then sprinting virtually untouched to the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown pass and run.
Abdul's point after was true and the Tigers carried a 10‑0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
MARION HARDING 0
First downs rushing 14 7
First downs passing 8 3
First downs by penalty 1 3
TOTAL first downs 23 13
Net yards rushing 243 69
Net yards passing 172 63
TOTAL yards 415 132
Passes attempted 29 20
Passes completed 13 10
Passes intercepted 1 3
Punts 0 3
Punting average 0 37.7
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/1
Penalties 15 5
Yards penalized 143 38
HARDING 0 0 0 0 0
M ‑ Abdul 29 field goal
M ‑ Oliver 34 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Johnson 8 run (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Williams 17 pass from Zwick (Abdul kick)
M ‑ Smith 31 pass interception return (Abdul kick)
MEN INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Harding rushing: Troutman 22‑63.
Harding passing: Huddle 10‑20‑63 3 INT.s
Harding receiving: Reidenbaugh 6‑58.