Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

13-6 IN LAST 10 SECONDS 88-Yard Drive Produces Winning Touchdown


Unless you are breathing in puffs and your heart pounding at the rate of 220 beats a minute, you can’t appreciate this story for you were not one of the 2,000 Massillon fans who saw victory snatched from the embers of a Big Red fire in Steubenville Friday evening that left 10,000 spectators gasping in their seats and wondering if what they had seen had really happened.

The score was 6-6 and 10 seconds, only 10 seconds remained to be played when Referee Titus Lobach raised his hands signaling that Henry “Ace” Grooms, big Tiger fullback, had lunged over the goal line for the winning touchdown of the game. It mattered not that Jim Rubio kicked the extra point to make the final score 13-6, for Steubenville didn’t have a chance to run a play after the following kickoff.

What a game!

It will go down in history as one of the fiercest fought, one of the best “timed” in the history of Tiger football, taking its place with the never-to-be forgotten 7-6 triumph over Cleveland Shaw in the last 27 seconds of play in 1922.

Brother, pass the aspiring – and an orchid for Grooms and a crown for Chuck Mather which could just as easily have been a fool’s cap, had his daring not paid off in the Tigers’ final victory march.

You can write off the rest of the game as a brilliant battle between the defenses of an inspired Steubenville team and a tenacious Tiger eleven.

Both were supposed to be coping with high-geared offenses last night. They were geared to the occasion – they yielded ground stubbornly – Steubenville enough to let Massillon score in the second quarter – Massillon enough to allow Steubenville to tally in the third period.

The teams were headed for an unexpected 6-6 tie when in the middle of the fourth quarter Bill Kerr of Steubenville got off a beautiful punt that put the Tigers in a hole, deep in their own territory and on their own 12-yard line.

The best local fans could hope for at that stage of the game was a couple of first downs that could get the orange and black out into their front yard where a fumble would not be so dangerous or where they could punt back into Stubber territory.

The Tigers had different designs. Aroused, they began a march that went 88 yards for a touchdown. The distance actually traveled was 98 yards because two five-yard penalties had to be overcome in the drive.

Yards came hard, but everyone counted. Eight times Grooms carried the ball in the effort. He was a demon to the Big Red as he gained on every play.

He hit for four yards, Bobby Grier for three and Bobby Joe Johnson for seven to gain a first down on the Massillon 26. A five-yard penalty set the Tigers back to their 21, but they came smashing back with Grier hitting for six, Tom Straughn for seven and Grooms for 16 and a first down on the Big Red 48.

The pounding which the Tigers had been giving the Big Red line all evening finally began to tell. Grooms took the ball two more times, made seven yards, then three for a first down on the 38. Grier smashed through for 15 and another first down on the 23 with two minutes and 59 seconds left to play.

Mather pulled Grooms out of the line-up to give him a few instructions. Straughn made three yards in two attempts and Grooms was sent back into the game. The fans groaned as the referee stepped off a five-yard penalty . . . the Tigers had already consumed their allotted times out.

Instead of it being third down and seven to go, it was now third and 12. But Mather had gambled and won.

Those who would have jumped all over him today, for the substitutions and penalty, were singing his praise, for Grooms carried out instructions and ran hard to his right for 16 yards and a first down on the nine.

It was Grooms again, this time to the left, and he got as far as the three-yard line. He smashed through for another yard, and on third down, ran hard to his right to go down beneath a pile of humanity at the point where goal line meets side line. When the last body was extricated, Ace was found clinging tightly to the ball, half-an-arm length over the goal line.

A look at the clock showed only 10 seconds remaining of the game. Rubio kicked the extra point and the Tigers just had time to kickoff to the Big Red. The game ended before they could put the ball in play again, and the Tigers had their third victory of the season, and their 17th in a row since they were last defeated by Mansfield in the middle of the 1949 season.

Grooms gained 55 yards in the surge to victory.
* * *
UP TO THE TIGERS’ final drive, the game was virtually even, with each team having gained approximately the same number of yards and defense outshining offense on both sides.

Deduct the 98 yards from the 248 made from the scrimmage by the Tigers and the latter would be left with 150, just 16 more than the yardage gained by the Big Red.

While Massillon fans celebrated the victory, keen disappointment filled the Steubenville dressing room, for the touchdown blow snatched fame away from Ray Hoyman, a former Massillon man who has done a great job of coaching in Steubenville in the three seasons he has been there. It’s too bad it had to happen to as fine a fellow. While praise does not produce points, let it be said for Ray, that every Massillon fan expressed admiration for the battle put up by his team, and we heard nothing but compliments for his Big Red from Steubenville fans.
* * *
THE TIGERS were lucky to win, if you call winning with 10 seconds to go – luck. Had not Grooms gone over when he did, the game would probably have ended before the Tigers could have again got off a play from scrimmage – in which case they would have been unlucky. How you look at it is all a matter of 10 seconds.

You can give the defense credit for playing the game last night and if you want to single out a few boys for praise in this department, give Jim Geiser and Chuck Vilet a big pat on the back, and don’t spare the praise for the other members of the defensive platoon, mainly John Tasseff, Weldon Younkers, Joe Sapia, Alex Matie, Dave Gable, Terry Snyder, Bob Khoenle, John Traylor and Willie Longshore. And don’t forget big Frank Gilliam, and Calvin Jones of Steubenville. Both were knocked out in the touchdown drive.

Massillon’s Snyder did double duty, playing left guard on offense, a position new to him and backing up the line on defense. His work was deserving of special praise.

It was evident early in the game that the Tigers were dealing with a team that had the will to be their master. Yards were lost on the first play from scrimmage and the locals were forced to punt. They got a big break after stopping Steubenville when Kerr, back to punt received a poor pass from center lost 19 yards as he ran back to pick up the ball and was dumped on the 11 by Tasseff. The Big Red dug in and stopped the Tigers, taking over on the two.
* * *
A SHORT PUNT that went only to the Big Red 41, started the Tigers on their first successful touchdown march. Grier plunged for five yards and Straughn whirled to a first down on the 27. Grooms made two at right end and Straughn on two plays went to a first down on the 15. Grier made eight yards and Grooms lunged through center for a first down on the four-yard line. It took four plays to get it over, with Grier finally plunging across on the second play of the second period. Rubio’s kick for the extra point went wide of the uprights.

The teams battled through the rest of the quarter with neither threatening to score and Vilet having the edge in the punting duel.

Neither team made any progress the second half until Jim Prayso intercepted Paul Francisco’s pass on the Tiger 35 and was downed in his tracks as he caught the ball.

Halfback Clarence Lawson carried twice and got a first down on the Tiger 24. He was made the work horse of the Big Red as he smashed three more times in a series of four plays for a first down on the Tiger 10.

There Prayso crossed up the Tigers. He darted off tackle, saw the hole blocked and scooted along the side, to circle right end and score for Steubenville.
* * *
WITH THE SCORE tied at 6-6 the try for extra point was an important one. You felt as though you could reach out and strum the tension and make it ping like a violin string, so taut was the crowd as Howard Linn lined up his kick. The ball was wide of the uprights, however, and Massillon fans breathed easier.

There was nothing else to write home about until the fourth quarter got under way and the Tigers staged their victory march.

Only because of this drive, the Tigers were able to show a substantial advantage in the statistics – 10 first downs to five, a net of 227 yards gained to 105 yards for Steubenville.

Neither team had anything to blow about in the way of passing. It was virtually a useless weapon.
* * *
THE TIGERS completed the only one of the night out of five attempts for 27 yards. Steubenville tried six passes and its only catch was the interception of a Massillon aerial.

The Tigers played over three quarters of the game without the services of Glenn Tunning, veteran left guard, who was removed early in the first period with an injured leg – a charley horse.

Grooms likewise did not try to kick the points after touchdown because of a charley horse.

In addition to Grooms ‘ 107 yards, other Massillon backs gained ground as follows: Grier 49 yards in nine carries; Straughn 42 yards in 15 carries; Nussbaum 15 yards in five; Johnson seven in one and Paul Francisco one in one.

ENDS – Shilling, Brenner, Taseff, Matie.
TACKLES – Gibson, Strobel, Geiser, Younkers, Kraus.
GUARDS – Tunning, Grunder, Snyder, Gable, Moyer, Stewart.
CENTERS – Roderick, Sapia.
QUARTERBACKS – P. Francisco, Longshore, Dommer.
HALFBACKS – Grier, Straughn, Johnson, Khoenle, Traylor, J. Francisco, Milncek.
FULLBACKS – Nussbaum, Grooms, Vilet.

ENDS – Gilliam, Fields, Pilya, Thomas
TACKLES – Yohn, Linn, R. Conkel
GUARDS – Jones, Kerr, D. Conkel
CENTERS – e. Locust, Amick.
QUARTERBACKS – Medves, Vincent.
HALFBACKS – Prayso, Lawson, Dixon, R. Locust, Stinson.

Score by periods:
Massillon 0 6 0 7 13
Steubenville 0 0 6 0 6

Massillon – Grier; Grooms.
Steubenville – Prayso.

Points after touchdown:
Massillon – Rubio (placekick).

Referee – Lobach.
Umpire – Boone.
Head Linesman – Jenkins.
Field Judge – Shopbell.

Mass. Steub.
First downs 10 5
Passes attempted 5 6
Passes completed 1 0
Had passes intercepted 1 0
Yards gained passing 27 0
Yards gained rushing 221 134
Total yards gained 248 134
Yards lost 21 29
Net yards gained 227 105
Times punted 5 8
Average punt (yards) 33 31
Yards punts returned by 49 19
Times kicked off 3 2
Average kickoff 36 46
Yards kickoffs returned by 40 13
Times fumbled 2 3
Lost ball on fumbles 0 0
Times penalized 8 3
Yards penalized 60 25

Ace Grooms