Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Fighting Warren Team Defeats Tigers 19-13
20-Game Victory Streak Snapped By Panthers In Battle Before 12,000


The invincible Washington high school football team is no longer invincible.

The Tigers, winners of 20 consecutive games were defeated 19-13 by a deserving Warren team Friday evening before a crowd of 12,000 fans who packed every inch of Warren stadium.

All good things come to an end and so did the Tigers’ long victory streak which began back in the middle of 1949 when Mansfield upset the local team in Tiger stadium.

There was nothing lucky about the Warren victory. As Coach Chuck Mather said after the game, “We were beaten by a team tonight that plays better ball than we did.”
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THE STATISTICS of the game bear out the statement for Warren gained more first downs, made more yardage on the ground and in the air, out-punted and out-kicked the Tigers.

The Panthers were high for the game. Rattling with an eagerness that sensed victory the longer the game progressed, they played a hard game. They were good enough to convert three breaks that came their way into touchdowns and were strong enough offensively to hold the ball a goodly portion of the game.

When you can’t get the ball, you can’t score touchdowns – and that was the Tigers ‘chief difficulty.

The Warren running attack built around Fullback Dave Rogers, the hardest running leather lugger the Tigers have faced this season rolled up 303 yards on the local team to retain possession of the pigskin for long periods at a time. Considering this fact and that of the Tigers losing the ball four times on fumbles and again on an intercepted pass, you can well understand how the locals had a hard time getting anywhere with the ball. In fact they ran but four-plays from scrimmage the first quarter; lost the ball on a fumble on one and had a pass intercepted on another.
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THE TIGERS found it difficult to cope with the Warren offense, and all types of defenses were used in a vain effort to check the Panthers.
Warren scored first on a forward pass, after the Tigers had given it the ball on a fumble. Then the Panthers intercepted a Massillon pass, and staged a drive that consumed all of seven minutes in going the length of the field for a touchdown.

The Tigers proved themselves a great ball team in the second period when they marched to two touchdowns and tied the score at 13-13.

That took courage and there were signs of Warren fading when the locals ripped to a first down after taking the kickoff at the start of the second half. But the Panthers covered a Massillon fumble, on the second play from scrimmage and shoved over their third touchdown, which proved to be the winning points.

The Tigers made on great effort after that to tie the score and carried the ball to the
four-yard line where with fourth down and a foot to go they tried an end run with Bobby Grier carrying the ball and were shoved out of bounds short of the required yardage. The chances of at least a tie or a possible victory went glimmering on that play.

An analysis of the Warren victory tends to show that the Panthers were better coordinated than the Tigers last night. Just when the locals seemed in the midst of an offensive maneuver they were set back with penalties, principally for offside, largely because of their own eagerness to win. Two clipping penalties and the rare calling of interference on the offensive team on a forward pass also helped to stymie the locals on two marches.
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WARREN had its share of bad breaks too, losing the ball three times on fumbles and dropping a forward pass in the end zone at the end of the first half which would have been another touchdown.

Offensively, the game for the most part resolved itself into a duel between Rogers and Ace Grooms, Tiger back. Rogers had the better of the advantage in total yards, but Grooms’ the higher average per try. Rogers carried 27 times and gained 162 net yards while Grooms carried 18 times and gained 121 net yards.

The Warren ball toter was a hard runner who bulled his way through tacklers and rarely did one Massillon player bring him down. Usually it required two and three.

The Panthers scored quickly. They received the kickoff and got to the Massillon 45, where they lost the ball on downs. Ace Grooms, got a first down on the play but the Tigers were offside and were penalized. On the next play Grier fumbled and John Krafcik covered for Warren on the Tiger 37. Bill Reed and Rogers made it a first down on the 25 and Don Seem threw a touchdown pass to Roger Bryant. Only three minutes of the game had expired. Pesanelli’s foot made the score 7-0.
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THE TIGERS took the kickoff and in two plays were on the Warren 41, but Reed intercepted Grooms’ long pass on the goal line and got back to the 33 before being downed.

The interception set Warren in motion again and Rogers was unstoppable as he tore off yard after yard. Once he ran 22 yards to the Tigers’ 20 but a five-yard penalty nullified the effort. He came right back to rip and plow, however, and soon was again digging his feet into pay dirt. The ball was driven to the seven-yard line where Rogers circled end for the touchdown. The attempt for the extra point was blocked and Warren led 13-0.

The Tigers proved themselves a great team after the following kickoff when they started from their 25 and drove the length of the field. They had to overcome two penalties en route. Once Grooms had a first down on his 35 but a penalty put the locals back on the 23. Grier made up for it by running to his 48. The Tigers moved on to a first down on the Warren 38 but another five-yard penalty sent them back over the middle of the field. Grooms and Grier took the leather to another first down on the Warren 41. From this point Paul Francisco fired a pretty pass to Bruce Brenner who took it over his shoulder while running hard and crossed the Warren goal. Grooms kicked the extra point and the Tigers trailed 13-7.
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WARREN came right back with the kickoff and advanced the ball with Rogers again doing most of the lugging to the Massillon 39. Bob Kraus popped on a fumbled lateral from Seem to Rogers and gained the leather for the Tigers on the 35. Little Johnny Francisco was the hero of this march as he ran 19 yards to the 11, and then scored on a seven-yard run around his left end. Warren blocked Groom’s attempted placekick for the extra point and the score was tied at 13-13.

On one of the rare occasions, the Tigers stopped Warren after the kickoff and forced the Panthers to punt. Bob Khoenle fumbled the ball when he was tackled just as he caught the pigskin and Warren recovered with 45 seconds of the half remaining. Seem hurled a pretty fourth down pass to Rogers who had the ball first on his finger tips then lunged at it again as it rolled off, and barely missed catching the leather in the end zone.

Press box chatter between halves was to the effect that if Massillon could march the kickoff at the start of the third period to a touchdown, it would win the game. Grooms got back with the ball to the 25 where he was tackled viciously. He plunged for seven and Grier had what would have been a first down save for a fumble that Warren covered on the 35. Rogers in two plays was on the Tiger 15. Here a five-yard penalty on Massillon for delay of the game put the ball on the 10-yard line first down and five to go. Rogers went to the three on the first play, and circled left end untouched for the touchdown on the next. The Tigers blocked the kick – and few thought the 19-13 score would stand up the rest of the way.

But it did. The Tigers got the kickoff and John Francisco was downed with it on his 17. Grooms made it 16 yards and a first on the 33, and picked up eight more on another sweep but a 15-yard penalty stopped the threat and the Tigers were forced to punt. Three plays later the Tigers had their big opportunity when they covered Seem’s fumble on the Warren 25. Grooms made six and John Francisco went to the 13. Grooms in three plays gained nine and one-half yards. It was fourth down on the four and Grier was sent around right end. Warren anticipated a right end sweep and got massed for the play driving Bobby out of bounds for a two-yard loss and took over the ball.
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ROGERS carried out of the hole for Warren as play entered the fourth period with the ball on the Massillon 39. The Panthers got down to the 20 where on fourth down Grier knocked down a pass in the end zone intended for Bryant.

The Tigers carried all the way back to the 33, but a 15-yard clipping penalty set them back. Francisco then tried a long pass to Bruce Brenner but the official charged offensive interference claiming the Massillon receiver pushed the Warren defender, and as a result the locals drew another 15 yards, plus loss of the down. A five-yard penalty for delaying the game shoved the Tigers back another five, forcing Vliet by this time to punt.

He got off a good one to the nine-yard line. Warren got up to its own 28 where Seem fumbled and John Traylor covered to give the Tigers their last chance. John Francisco made a yard at left end. A pass into the end zone rolled off Brenner’s finger tips. Grooms was thrown for a loss on a right end sweep and a pass to Brenner on fourth down failed to gain enough yardage.

Warren had the game by this time. Rogers kept the Panthers in possession by ripping through the Tigers at will for first downs on the 38, the 47 and Massillon’s 35 and the game ended with the Panthers holding the pigskin.

While the loss was a disappointment, it did not necessarily knock the Tigers out of the state championship race, but it will scramble the voting, with the scribes the judges and plenty of them now getting in a lick for their favorite team in the Associated Press poll.

Warren has lost two games to Collinwood and Mansfield, and has an easy game with Erie Academy which hasn’t won a game, next week, before taking on Steubenville, one of the state’s best, in two weeks.

The triumph was Warren’s first over Massillon since 1947. The Tigers won the last three years.

The line-up and summary:
ENDS – Keen, Sweasey, Brenner, Gable, Shilling.
TACKLES – Geiser, Chapman, Gibson, Strobel.
GUARDS – Kraus, Sapia, Tunning, Grunder, Snyder.
CENTERS – Stewart, Roderick, Climo, Fabianich.
QUARTERBACKS – Traylor. P. Francisco, Dommer.
HALFBACKS – Williams, Khoenle, Grier, J. Francisco, Nussbaum, Johnson.
FULLBACKS – Vliet, Grooms.

ENDS – Bryant, Vair, Martin, Buxton.
TACKLES – Nicula, Marco, Louma.
GUARDS – Simone, Krafcik, Brangham, Yenchocik.
CENTERS – Groff, Preston, Principi.
HALFBACKS – Reed, Williams, Merolla, Leigh, Gear, Venetta.
FULLBACKS – Rogers, Pesanelli, White.

Score by periods:
Warren 7 6 6 0 19
Massillon 0 13 0 0 13

Warren Mass.
First downs 17 10
Passes attempted 6 7
Passes completed 3 3
Had Passes intercepted 0 2
Yards gained passing 75 45
Yards gained rushing 303 225
Total yards gained 378 270
Yards lost 10 12
Net yards gained 368 258
Times kicked off 4 3
Average kickoff (yards) 54 37
Yards kickoffs returned 53 73
Times punted 1 2
Average punt (yards) 45 41
Yards punts returned 4 0
Fumbles 5 5
Lost ball on fumbles 3 4
Yards penalized 55 76

Ace Grooms