Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Tigers Hand Big Red 13-6 Defeat Before 21,000 Fans
Massillon Gridders Win Hard Fought Battle With Fourth Period Touchdown


The Tigers of Washington high school dammed the Big Red surge from Steubenville Friday evening and turned back the wave from the Ohio River city by a score of 13-6 in a hard fought game in Tiger stadium before a near capacity crowd of 21,000 fans.

Massillon spectators who like to see them close, saw their second home game in a row that way, and were glad to settle for the seven-point margin of victory. In fact at the end of the scoreless first half they had reached the point where they wouldn’t have been too disappointed with a tie score.

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Hard To Crack
Not that Steubenville has the greatest football team in Ohio. It hasn’t, but it has a scrappy eleven that caught the Tigers on a night when the latter were jittery and the victim of a bad case of fumblelitis.

No team could have had any more hard luck happen to it at the wrong time than that which plagued the local eleven throughout the game. But in spite of all the bad, there was enough good in the Tiger team to pull through to victory, and the crowd stuck to the end.

A terrific first half which saw a lot of vicious tackling, and goal line threats thrown away with fumbles, prefaced the second half when the two teams scored all of their points.

The third period was five minutes old when Al Brown, Tiger sophomore quarterback, raced around his right end for the first touchdown of the game, and the fourth quarter had hardly begun when Querino Lelli tossed a 29-yard pass to Bob Stratton of the Big Red to tie the score at 6-6.

The Tigers roared back magnificently after the Steubenville touchdown and went 85 yards to score with Gene Zorger lugging the leather over from the one-yard line and Brown placekicking the 13 and final point.

That in brief tells the story of the scoring, but it does not tell the whole story.

Howard Brinker, former Massillon Ed. Jones junior high coach who went to Steubenville as assistant to Mel Knowlton in 1941 and became head coach when Knowlton entered the navy, brought a heavy, experienced team to Massillon and as expected by those who were in the know, gave the Tigers all they cared to handle in one evening.

In the early stages of the game, Brinker’s eleven outplayed the orange and black, but in the last three periods the Massillon eleven was distinctly the better team and not only the score but the statistics bear out this point. They made 11 first downs to Steubenville’s five and gained a net total of 263 yards to the Big Red’s 149. Hard luck cost them two possible touchdowns the first half and they were on the three-yard line when the game ended.

In fact fate was so unkind the first half it appeared as through the books were closed on Tiger scoring. The local boys handled the Big Red defense nicely after the first period, but muffed every scoring opportunity.

No wonder then the Massillon spectators went delirious with joy when Brown finally worked his way over the Stubber goal line. As far as the spectators were concerned they would just as leave had half a dozen bombs shot off for that one, for it looked big for the moment. Then along came Steubenville to tie it up at 6-6 and folks again were talking about settling for a tie. But their visions of a duplication of the 1945 score were soon eased when Zorger took the following kickoff and raced straight up the alley and through the Steubenville team, only to be hauled down from behind on the visitor’s 35-yard line and have a 15-yard penalty slapped on for clipping.

The fans greeted the clipping charge with a terrific boo, since from the stands it appeared that Al Brown had safely driven his body in front of the would-be Steubenville tackler.
A Great Run
Zorger’s run on the kickoff return was one of the finest of the day and one of many contributions on his part to the spectacular phase of the evening.

One two other occasions he almost got away for touchdown sprints, but was hauled down by the safety man. His running was just as outstanding for the Tigers as was that of slippery Preston Robinson for the Stubbers. The latter, who has a lot of knee action, put the Big Red in position for their fourth quarter touchdown when he dashed 28 yards to the Tiger 29-yard line from which point Lelli executed his perfect peg to Stratton. The latter all evening had the knack of eluding the left side of the Tiger secondary and had it not been for his own butter fingers, the Big Red might have had an even better showing for its efforts.

The one Steubenville touchdown actually was the Big Red’s only serious threat of the game, although fans at all times feared that Robinson or Pete Polovina would break away for a sprint to the oats bin.

The Tigers, on the other hand, were threatening right up to the end of the game. Ben Roderick late in the fourth quarter, intercepted a Steubenville pass and raced for what looked like a touchdown, but his foot slipped out on the 30-yard line and the ball was called back to that point and put in play. Then too at the end of the game, the Tigers were hammering for what appeared to be a sure touchdown on the three-yard line.

The Massillon line again played a great game. It took a beating the first period when it appeared unable to handle the Steubenville backs or open holes for the Tiger runners, but it arose to the occasion from there on and moved the Big Red players around constantly. Big Jim Young played a bear of a game and Tony Uliveto was in on plenty of tackles. Likewise, Gene Yost and Tom Brooks grabbed their share of legs during the night.

Steubenville operated almost completely from a single wing. The Tigers started with a T offense but couldn’t make it click to get openings for ball carriers. They lost no time getting back into a single wing.

The Big Red played a 5-4-2 defense throughout most of the night. It confused the local team during the early minutes of the game but once the players and coaches figured out a way to go through they often penetrated it for sizeable gains.

The loss was Steubenville’s second in four games this season and the victory was the Tigers second in three games.

Steubenville had previously beaten East Liverpool, 19-0 and Weirton, W. Va., 13-7 and had lost to Steubenville Central Catholic, 2-0. The Tigers in their two previous games had defeated Canton Lincoln, 29-0 and lost to Cathedral Latin at Cleveland, 14-7.
A Vicious Game
The teams went at each other with a vicious spirit from the start of the opening whistle and tackled for keeps. Neither team threatened until the closing minutes of the first period when the Stubbers launched a drive that carried them to the 8-yard line where, on fourth down, Don Joyce tried to pass and was thrown for a six-yard loss by Gene Krisher, Tom Brooks and Gene Yost.

The Tigers made their first serious threat midway in the fourth when Zorger got loose for a 22-yard run that took the ball to the 27-yard line and moved it on to the five in another dash. On first down, the ball was dropped in a reverse, Zorger to Byelene, and Dwight Bauman recovered for the Big Red.

Stopped in their efforts to return the ball, the Stubbers elected to punt, but Joyce’s kick was blocked and it would have been Massillon’s ball on the five-yard line had not a Massillon player been offside. That ended another possible threat and the last of the first half.

The Tigers came out after intermission with the idea of taking the kickoff and going for a touchdown but it didn’t work out that way. The Big Red stopped them and forced them to punt. The third period was about half over when the local team got its first break of the day. Joyce had dropped back in an attempt to pass but was smothered as he drew back to fire. The ball popped out of his hand and the Tigers covered on the Big Red 25. A series of plays gained a first down on the 12-yard line and put the ball in position for Brown’s wide end sweep for a touchdown.

He tried to placekick the extra point but punched the ball into the backs of his own players.

Steubenville struck back with fire in its eyes and on the first play of the fourth quarter got the ball through a punt on its own 38-yard line. Robinson danced his way to the Tiger 29 from which Lelli launched his touchdown pass. Polovina’s kick was blocked.

With the score tied at 6-6 the Big Red kicked off to Zorger who caught the ball on his 15 and ran straight up the field behind fine interference. He was in the open at the 50-yard line and had a one step lead on the nearest Big Red tackler when Brown took off with a dive in an attempt to lay a block into the Big Red player. The officials called it clipping and instead of the Tigers getting the ball on the 35, they got it on the 50. It took nine plays to get over the goal, Zorger lugging the ball across from the one-yard line . This time Brown kicked the extra point which looked very precious for the moment.

That ended the scoring although the Tigers’ nearly had another on Roderick’s fine run after interception and Byelene’s long pass to Johnson for a first down on the nine-yard line. The Tigers had moved it from the nine to the three when the game ended.

Massillon’s passing attack was ragged. The Tigers’ completed two for 48 yards and had two intercepted. Steubenville wasn’t any better although one of the two passes it completed went for a touchdown. The Big Red tried 11 and had two intercepted.

Massillon’s superiority can be read in the ground gained by the local team. The Tigers gained 27 yards to the Big Red’s 166.

Numerous penalties, many inopportune moments, slowed the game. The Tigers were penalized four times for a total of 65 yards while Steubenville was penalized seven times for 75 yards.

— 1946 —
Game 3: Steubenville (Big Red)
Head Coach: Howard Brinker
Date: Friday, Oct. 4 (8:00 p.m.)
Stadium: Tiger Stadium
Attendance: 21,000
Referee: Titus Lobach
Umpire: O.V. Boone
Head Linesman: Denny Schill
Field Judge: Carl Brubaker

Massillon Starting Offense Steubenville
(22) Jack Zeller LE Robert Hess (15)
(25) Jim Young LT Dwight Baughman(35)
(11) Tony Uliveto LG George Ossio (10)
(50) Merle Darrah C Art Deleonardis (26)
(98) Tom Brooks RG Eugene Quinn (19)
(42) Julius Wittmann RT Jim Miller (37)
(45) Morrie Eberhardt RE Stanley Giffs (25)
(35) Al Brown QB Don Joyce (33)
(33) Junior Pedrotty LH Pete Polovina (22)
(65) Gene Zorger RH Preston Robinson(31)
(10) Gene Yost FB Bob Stratton (12)

1 2 3 4 Final
Massillon 0 0 6 7 13
Steubenville 0 0 0 6 6

3rd Quarter
Mass TD#1 – Al Brown runs 12 yds around RE on 1st & 10 to end 25 yd drive. The drive starts after a fumble recovery. PAT kick by Brown is too low and hits the backs of his own players.
4th Quarter
Steub TD#1 – Bob Stratton takes 29 yd pass from Querino Lelli to end 62 yd drive. The drive starts after a punt reception. PAT kick by Polovina is blocked.
Mass TD#2 – Zorger runs 1 yd to end 9-play 50 yd drive. The drive starts after the kickoff return by Zorger. PAT kick by Brown is good.

11 First downs 5
2 of 10 Passing 2 of 11
2 Own passes intercepted 1
48 Passing yardage 41
228 Rushing yardage 125
276 Total yardage 166
13 Yards lost 17
263 Net yards gained 149
4 for 27.7 Punts & average (yards) 6 for 25.8
38 Punt returns (yards) 21
3 for 47 Kickoffs & average (yards) 2 for 49
3 of 5 Fumbles & lost 1 of 3
7 for 65 Penalties & total yardage 7 for 75

Game Info
Massillon: Byelene, qb; G. Krisher, rt; Bishop, re; Eberhardt, re; W. Krisher, g; Johnson, le; Badarnza, rh; Roderick, fb.
Steubenville: Hess, le; Wells, rg; Lelli, lh; Sogan, rh.

Merle Darrah