Tigers Battle Mansfield To 12-12 Tie
Massillon Knots Count In Last Two Seconds After 72-Yard March
By LUTHER EMERY
The Washington high school Tigers and Mansfield battled to a 12-12- draw Friday night and if you were one of the 13,244 fans who sat through that one you should live to be 100.
And fortunate was Massillon to come out with a tie. The clock on the scoreboard showed only two seconds of the game left to play when Halfback Don Duke threw himself over a pile of humanity to score the tying touchdown.
There was even a chance to win by kicking the extra point. The ball had height and distance but was a little to the right of the upright and the game ended on the following kickoff – deadlocked.
Put yourself in the shoes of John Kasunick, the kicker, and you can realize the pressure he was under trying to get that extra point. And disappointed as John and Massillon fans were that it didn’t go between the uprights, think of the anguish of Mansfield fans had it done so.
They were in despair as it was.
Their team with four regulars sidelined had completely outplayed Massillon the first half of the game. They had out-gained the Tigers 227 to 193 in net yardage, made 15 first downs to Massillon’s 10 and had the verdict wrapped up twice when breaks went against them. And there it was on the scoreboard 12-12 with only two seconds, left to play.
* * *
ACTUALLY nobody was happy.
The Mansfield gridders were disappointed they had not accomplished an upset even though they were the first team to tie the Tigers this year – and the Massillon dressing room was more sober than it has been since the defeat by Alliance last year – despite the Tigers’ gallant last second surge that gained the tie.
Many missed the crucial finish. Massillon fans began streaming out of the park when the Tigers had failed in what most folks thought was their last bid to tie the score when they lost the ball on downs to Mansfield on the latter’s 33 with less than five minutes to play.
And the hard hitting visitors banged away, consuming as much time as possible as they clicked off two first downs and moved the ball to the Tiger 33.
There the Massillon gridders covered a fumble by Bill Hightower, Tiger halfback, Jerry Kreiger getting on the ball on his own 38 with the clock showing two minutes and eight seconds left to play.
* * *
WHAT HOPES Tigers had, flickered out on the next’s play when on a statue play Willie Long was thrown for a 10-yard loss. It looked like the end of time on the next one when Hightower, redeeming his fumble, intercepted Johnny James’ pass and got back to midfield with a minute and 38 seconds remaining.
But here Mansfield defeated its own effort to win. The visitors were guilty of mauling James on the pass and a 15-yard penalty was stepped off.
That returned the ball to the Tigers and kept them breathing.
Things happened in rapid fire after that. James shot a pass to Charley Brown for a first down on the Mansfield 44. Then Charley gained four on a statue. Another pass, James to Jim Houston was good for eight and got a first down on the 32. James hit Houston again for 26 yards and a first down on the six. Only 51 seconds remained and the Tigers had consumed their timeouts. They had to go for it and quick. Wasting little time in the huddle, James handed to Don Duke for three yards. He stuck the ball into Archibald’s stomach and he leaned over for two more. Only 19 seconds remained: time for one more play and a yard to go. The ball went to Duke again. He hit hard. The momentum took him over and the Tigers had preserved their undefeated record for the season, though they failed to extend their victory string of 12 games.
Massillon stands went wild with joy. An audible groan was heard from across the field, because what a few minutes before had seemed a certain 12-6 Mansfield upset victory now read 12-12 on the scoreboard.
* * *
THE MASSILLON comeback in the face of defeat was the one bright spot in the Tigers’ play last night.
They were outclassed completely the first half when they gained only 11 net yards from scrimmage and failed to make a first down, while Mansfield was rolling up eight first downs and 124 net yards.
We have never seen a Tiger offense so thoroughly stopped in many a year.
Two Tigers had the ball but twice in the first quarter. They ran three plays each time, then punted for a net gain of 10 yards.
They had the ball but two times the second quarter. They ran three plays the first time, then punted. They ran only two plays next time, losing the ball on the second on an intercepted pass. Capitulating, they ran only 14 plays the first half, including three punts and an intercepted pass.
The second half was a different story.
Trailing 6-0 as a result of a 64-yard Mansfield march which ended with Willie Mack plunging over from the one-yard line for a touchdown, the Tigers changed their strategy when they came out for the third period and did more inside running.
They took the kickoff and in two plays got their initial first down of the game. Mansfield forced them to punt on the next series but, on the first play from scrimmage, Mack fumbled and Kreiger recovered on his 47.
* * *
THAT SET the Tigers in motion for their first touchdown drive led by Duke. He rammed for three and Archibald got four. Then Duke was freed for a 25-yard dash that took him to the 21-yard line. He just about went the distance but was caught as he was pulling away from the last Mansfield tackler.
Archibald got four yards and Duke in two more carries battled his way to a first down on the 10.
It looked bad for the Tigers when Duke got only one and James was tossed for a three-yard loss on the next play to put the ball back on the 12.
But the Tigers came out with their Statue of Liberty and it was the only time it worked all night. Willie Long took the ball and running hard to his left, did a tight rope walk down the sideline to go into the end zone standing up and tie the score at 6-6. Kasunick also missed this kick, the ball being high and long enough but lacing direction. Only two minutes and 43 seconds of the quarter remained when the T.D. was scored.
The Tigers tried to contain Mansfield, but there was no stopping All-Ohio Mack. Before the period was over Mansfield had taken the kickoff and Mack had ripped off runs of 21 and 14 yards which, coupled with 10 yards made by his teammates, had the ball on the Tigers’ 27.
It didn’t take long from there. Mack hit for one yard, then nine. Hightower got four and Quarterback Jack Ward banged his way through for seven more. That put the ball on the six and Mack took off like a jet to catapult himself into the end zone. He seemed to sail through the air for five of the yards and Mansfield was ahead 12-6. A bobbled pass from center for the extra point hit the ground and Ward picked it up and tried to run it over but was tossed out just short of his goal. So it remained 12-6.
* * *
THE TIGERS gamely surged back with the kickoff, went for three first downs with Archibald and Duke doing the lugging, but they didn’t get closer than the 28 and lost the ball on downs on the Mansfield 33. That set the stage for the dramatic finish we have already recorded.
We can understand Mansfield’s anguish at seeing the Tigers gain a tie.
The breaks were against the visitors. The 15-yard penalty was one and the loss of the ball three times on fumbles were others. One of these losses came on the visitors’ first offensive bid. They started with the kickoff from their 39 and marched straight through the Tigers for three consecutive first downs until Dave Canary pounced on Bob Thompson’s fumble on the Massillon 13-yard line to end the threat. As already mentioned, Jerry Kreiger covered two other Mansfield fumbles.
Mack scored Mansfield’s first touchdown in the second period with two minutes and 34 seconds left after a drive of 64 yards. He carried the ball eight times in the march, gaining 49 of the yards himself.
The Tigers made a great defensive effort to contain the visitors after they had gotten a first down on the three-yard line. They gave Mack a yard on his first attempt, stopped him without gain the second time and allowed Ward a yard on a center buck, Mack barely getting over for the last yard and T.D.
Mack was easily the outstanding man on the field. He was by far the best back the Tigers have faced this season, and was almost as outstanding on defense. He carried the ball 24 times and personally gained 152 net yards which is an average of slightly more than six yards per try. Thompson gained 24 net yards in 11 tries, a fraction over two yards per try.
The average is far below what the two visiting ball carriers had made prior to last night’s game. They had averaged better than 10 yards per carry against five previous foes.
Hightower gained 34 net yards and Ward 17.
* * *
LEADING the Tigers in rushing was Duke with 65 net yards in 13 carries. He was given the ball only once the entire first half, gaining three yards on that first quarter play. Dave Archibald gained 50 net yards on 12 carries, Willie Long five net yards on four carries and Brown one on four carries.
The Tigers threw six passes but only five actually counted in the game, since the one which was intercepted was nullified by the 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Of the five that counted, three were completed in the tying T.D. drive for 47 yards. One was incomplete and one was intercepted. Mansfield didn’t complete a pass in four attempts.
Asked by the Tigers did not pass earlier in the game, Coach Tom Harp said, “We didn’t have a chance. We tried the one and it was intercepted. After all we only had the ball the four times the first half and lost it on one of these times on the interception. Then in the third period we found we could gain on the ground so we stayed there.”
The Tiger coach expressed disappointment over the tie score but added “we were fortunate to get the tie.”
“We feel Mansfield played a tremendous ball game. We couldn’t move the ball the first half and couldn’t contain them. I think Willie Mack played a great game. The one bright spot was the desire and determination by our kids when defeat stared them in the face and they came back to gain the tie.”
Harp said Mansfield’s heavier line was strong enough to permit spreading of personnel on defense to stop the Tigers’ end sweeps which have been gaining most of the ground for the locals this season.
Mansfield played the game with four regulars sidelined. Kermit Wilson, regular end has been out since the Middletown game. Rock Hinkel, tackle and Earl Roth, guard, were hurt in an auto accident last Saturday and Dave Guiher, halfback, who was slated to start last night was kept out because of an old injury that was aggravated in the same accident.
The line-up and summary:
ENDS – Canary, Houston, Welcher.
TACKLES – Graber, Maier, Kreiger, Schumacher, Whitfield, Hofacre, Allen.
GUARDS – Fisher, Roan, Tracy, Ertle, Kasunick.
CENTERS – Spicer, Gentzler, Dowd.
QUARTERBACKS – James, Brenner.
HALFBACKS – Duke, Brown, Long, Radtke, Harrrison, Cocklin.
FULLBACK – Archibald.
ENDS – Travis, Franta, Ackerman.
TACKLES – Beabout, Johnson, Jones, Bill Franta, Calver.
GUARDS – Mayer, Lutz, Hood, Bell.
CENTERS – Orosan, L. Johnson.
QUARTERBACKS – Ward, Carver, Bair.
HALFBACKS – Hightower, Mack, Zivkoff, Philpott, Wilson, White.
FULLBACK – Thompson.
Score by periods:
Massillon 0 0 6 6 12
Mansfield 0 6 0 6 12
Massillon – Long, Duke.
Mansfield – Mack 2.
Referee – Machock (Elyria).
Umpire – Rupp (Cuyahoga Falls).
Head Linesman – Murphy (Cleveland Heights).
Field Judge – Stewart (Smithville).
First downs 10 15
Passes attempted 5 4
Passes completed 3 0
Had passes intercepted 1 0
Yards gained passing 47 0
Yards gained rushing 146 227
Total yards gained 193 227
Yards lost 33 12
Net yards gained 163 215
Times punted 4 2
Average punt (yards) 36 35
Yards punts returned by 0 29
Times kicked off 3 3
Average kickoff (yards) 36 42
Yards kickoffs returned by 40 40
Times fumbled 1 6
Lost ball on fumbles 0 3
Times penalized 2 3
Yards penalized 10 25