Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Snarling Tigers Claw Mansfield 18-0
Orange and Black Play Best Game Of Season In Defeating Old Rival


The Tiger is snarling again.

It bared its fangs at Mansfield Friday evening and whipped the team to which it was supposed to lose.

The score was 18-0 and a stunned Mansfield crowd couldn’t believe it. Neither could many Massillon fans who traveled the 55 miles to Mansfield fully expecting to see the orange and black lose.

But the Tiger became of age last night, played as it hasn’t at anytime this season and deserves a better rating among the Ohio high schools next week.

A surprising turnout of 12,600 fans attended the game, and unless you are dripping at the neck, running at the nose, feeling the need for a new hair wave, shoe shine or suit press, you can’t appreciate the kind of night it was nor the job turned in by the football team.
* * *
THE MASSILLON gridders gave their all. The linemen charged as they haven’t before this season and to say they ate up the gridiron isn’t speaking figuratively. A look at their faces in the locker room after the game and you would know what we mean.

They were caked with mud as though prepared for a clay massage, except that they had it in their eyes and teeth too. But they were a happy bunch. It’s been a long time since a Massillon team let go with as much enthusiasm after a game as the Tigers did last night. They knew they had accomplished something – something many had said they couldn’t – and had won a big victory. They knew they were now the football team they have been striving to be, and they were happy about it.

No sooner had the last gun been fired until they made a rush for the bench, grabbed their young coach Tom Harp, hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him off the field.

In the dressing room they cheered, whooped it up, congratulated each other and accepted the congratulations of fans who poured in. For a time it was bedlam, and anyone in the dressing room during those minutes came out with a souvenir of the gridiron – badly soiled clothes from brushing against the slimy suits of the players.

The student body, whom we have thought has not been enthusiastic as it should be, warmed up – did it before the team ever left for Mansfield we were told – and went all out in its support of the eleven last night.

Students and band lingered around the stadium after most other fans had left to play and cheer.
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THE FIRST Massillon team to go into a game as underdog in years, the Tigers let it be known quickly that they shouldn’t have been placed there.

They scored the second time they came in possession of the ball with seven minutes and five seconds of the first period remaining to be played when Ron Boekel raced 54 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown, out-running (and we still can’t believe it) the fleet-footed Willie Mack and Wilmer Fowler, the track men of the Mansfield team.

They shoved over another from the two-yard line on the first play of the second quarter when Jerry Yoder carrying the ball after covering Fowler’s fumble on the 14. And the third came with only 30 seconds gone of the fourth quarter when Yoder did some fancy stepping around left end for 13 yards.

Bob Williams’ foot skidded off the ball on three extra point attempts but as it turned out it did not matter save to pull down his own conversion average.

That’s a thumbnail sketch of the TD’s, but what went into them and what preserved them calls for a lot more explaining.

Coach Harp had particular praise for the play of the line after the game was well as the defense and the ball handling of Quarterback Rich Crescenze. While Rich fumbled a few handoffs of the slimy ball, Harp thought he did “excellent all-around work, considering the condition of the pigskin.”
* * *
THE LINE, as we have said before, did play its best, and the defense put on some good
old-fashioned snowball tackling that many times stopped Mansfield players in their tracks, or off their tracks, and resulted in fumbles.

To hold three ball carriers like Mack, Fowler and Fullback Jim Witherspoon to 92 net yards on the ground, is doing a lot of tackling, and that’s what the Tigers did last night.

And the linemen opened enough holes to permit Massillon backs to romp 140 net yards.

The Tigers were opportunists last night. They were alert, recovering all six of their own fumbles and covering four Mansfield fumbles.

Their ball hawking ability stopped Mansfield drives including the latter’s first effort when in two first downs it moved the ball from its 28 to the Massillon 39. There it stopped when linebacker Bob Tracy pounced on a fumble on his own 42. Two plays later, Boekel was on his way to the first touchdown on the game.

Ball hawking by Yoder, who pounced on Fowler’s fumble of a lateral on the 14, set up the second touchdown and Joe Holloway ended another Mansfield effort when he covered a fumble by Fowler on the Tiger 45. A fourth Mansfield fumble of a punt was covered by the Tigers late in the fourth quarter, but by that time players were so daubed alike with mud we couldn’t tell who got on the ball.
* * *
AHEAD 12-0 at the end of the half, the Tigers were the fresher the second half and with victory in sight and their ambition realized, seemed to gain in strength the older the game got. At the end they were driving again, having just made their ninth first down of the game in midfield. Mansfield chalked up six first downs during the night.

Because of the wet conditions of the field and the slippery ball, the Tigers for the most part played close to the cuff. They got reckless a couple of times with laterals, one of which brought a much needed first down on the two-yard line, but they didn’t try a single forward pass. For that matter Mansfield only threw one and completed it for a gain of 24 yards.

In playing it safe, the Tigers for the most part punted on third down and, Tom Stephens the kicker, deserves a pat-on-the-back for the way he booted the muddy ball. He averaged 10 more yards than his Mansfield adversary and he got away one booming kick of 48 yards for the line of scrimmage early in the game.

Mansfield, previously undefeated and conqueror of Warren 42-7 last week, had high hopes of winning the state championship this year. The defeat, its first of the season was particularly disappointing to team and fans, one of whom said, “Massillon just has the Indian sign on us.”

The Tygers have only won one game of the series which began in 1936. That was a 16-12 victory in 1949 when Augie Morningstar, now of Massillon, was coaching the Richland county team.
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AT THE CONCLUSION of the 1953 season Mansfield had said it would play Massillon the week before the Massillon-Canton McKinley game or not at all. This wasn’t to the liking of ex-Coach Chuck Mather last year or Tom Harp this year. After Massillon had filled the usual Mansfield date for 1955 with Toledo Waite, Mansfield had a change of heart and suggested a game with the Tigers for the third week in October. A contract which the local team had planned to send to East Liverpool for that date was held up at Mansfield’s request. After last night’s game it is possible that Mansfield will have another change of heart.

At any rate, Coach Bill Peterson after the game told Harp, “we’ll play you the week before the Canton game or not at all.”

So, maybe last night’s game did break the chain of relations.

It was a cleanly played game and neither tam sustained any serious injuries. In fact, the Tigers had none. That’s what usually happens in football when you hit the other fellow harder than he hits you.

A brief resume of the quarters goes like this:
First Quarter
The Tigers received, bringing the kickoff back to the 36 but were forced to punt. Stephens got off a good boot to the Mansfield 28 and the latter rolled up two first downs before fumbling. Tracy covering on the Tiger 42. Boekel hit for four and then went 54 for a touchdown.

The Tigers kicked off and Mansfield got back to the Massillon 42, before a pitchout lost 15 yards and it was forced to punt. The kick went almost straight up, the Tigers getting the ball on the Mansfield 49. Homer Floyd raced to the 30, almost getting loose, but a 15-yard clipping penalty was slapped on Massillon to end the threat. Stephens was thrown for a
12-yard loss attempting to punt, but he got the next one away to the Mansfield 22. Fowler fumbled the first play and Yoder was on the ball for Massillon on the 14. Boekel hit for four and Yoder got one. Then Floyd on a pitchout went to a first down on the two-yard line and there the quarter ended.
Second Quarter
On the first play of the second period Yoder went over for the T.D.

The Tygers got the kickoff and worked the ball up to the Massillon 47, where they were thrown backward twice in a row with Holloway finally getting the ball for Massillon on a fumble.

The teams exchanged punts with neither threatening anymore in the period.
Third Quarter
Mansfield entered the third period without Fowler and he didn’t play the rest of the game.

The teams exchanged punts to start the period, the Tigers having the better of the exchange and getting the ball on the Mansfield 45. They got down to the 30, only to be penalized back to where they started from for clipping. Floyd went for 20, however, and with Boekel and Yoder helping got down to the 16-yard line as the period ended.
Fourth Quarter
Floyd picked up a first down on the 11 and Yoder went the rest of the way around left end with the help of a beautiful block that set him free.

Mansfield made its only serious scoring threat after that. A 25-yard pass, the only one of the night, Mack to Wilbur Hightower, produced a first down on the 28. The Tygers in three more plays got a first down on the 17 and here Massillon braced, threw back four running plays and took over the ball on the 10. The Tigers just kept it the rest of the game, moving to the Mansfield 46 as the game ended, thanks to recovery of a fumbled punt.

ENDS – Houston, R. Williams, Canary, Lorch, Francisco.
TACKLES – B. Williams, Hill, Schumacher.
GUARDS – Maier, Holloway, Tracy.
CENTERS – Spicer, morrow.
QUARTERBACKS – Crescenze, James.
HALFBACKS – Floyd, Yoder, Fromholtz, Stephens, Stavroff.
FULLBACKS – Boekel, Cocklin.

ENDS – K. Wilson, Franta, Burton, Beabout.
TACKLES – Elmas, Moore, R. Johnson, Cooks.
GUARDS – Komjenovich, Senokoslieff.
CENTERS – Gouge, Orosen.
HALFBACKS – Mack, Fowler, Hightower, Bonner, R. Thompson, Dillon, E. Wilson.
FULLBACKS – Witherspoon, Sherrer.

Score by quarters:
Massillon 6 6 0 6 18

Touchdowns – Yoder 2, Boekel.

Don Kock (Lima).
George Donges (Ashland).
C.H. Speid (Findlay).
Dave Kocker (Akron).

Mass. Mansf.
First downs 9 7
Passes attempted 0 1
Passes completed 0 1
Yards gained passing 0 25
Yards gained rushing 167 124
Total yards gained 167 149
Yards lost 27 32
Net yards gained 140 117
Times punted 6 4
Average punt (yards) 33 23
Yards punts returned by 0 26
Times kicked off 4 1
Average kickoff (yards) 25 52
Yards kickoffs returned by 8 38
Times fumbled 6 4
Lost ball on fumble 0 4
Times penalized 6 5
Yards penalized 50 45

Homer Floyd