Tigers Fight Back For 27-18 Victory
Whitfield Out With Injury As Orange Racks Up Its 5th
By CHARLIE POWELL
It was five down and five to go for the Washington high school gridders after a Friday night donnybrook in which our Tigers proved they have all the ingredients of a true champion.
Rallying behind a determined defense and their quick-hitting offense, featuring speed afoot, nimbleness, headiness and just plain high-octane power, the Orange and Black outlasted a Cleveland Benedictine club which lived up to expectations, and then some, by a 27-18 tune.
Some 13,000 fans, including 12,556 paid, were in Tiger stadium for the big battle and few Tiger followers, if any, held high hope for a fifth straight victory after the first two minutes and 18 seconds of play. It took the Bengals from the lakefront just that little bit of time to wheel out a 12-0 lead.
But this inexperienced Massillon club, outweighed, out-passed and minus tackle and
co-captain Dick Whitfield, was only momentarily stunned by the order of events – an
85-yard kickoff return, an intercepted pass and then a 40-yard aerial for a second touchdown.
Showing their mettle and living up to their reputation as an outfit content to parlay short gainers into gold-dust, Lee Tressel’s hustlers came roaring back. With 4:26 left in the opening chapter they hit pay dirt for the first time and with 4:22 remaining in the second period and they barged ahead.
The first drive involved 11 plays and 68 yards, the second 20 plays, 79 yards, two vital gambles and a 15-yard penalty. So it was Massillon by the margin of Mike Hershberger’s conversion at intermission.
* * *
THE TIGERS received the second half kickoff and went on the prowl again. The drive fizzled out at the enemy 15 but the next thing Benedictine knew was that Fancy-Dan, Ivory Benjamin hit them. His 50-yard TD jaunt on a punt return widened the gap and Massillon pulses returned to normal after a 72-yard march paid off early in the final quarter.
Benedictine battled back for another score but it meant nothing. In fact, it came as Coach Tressel was dotting his lineup with reserves.
When the Tiger celebration in their dressing room died down, Tressel and Co. started thinking about their next foe, the Tygers of Mansfield.
This may sound like a broken record but the Orangemen are facing a fourth straight toughie. If you don’t believe us, ask the local scouts who have put a “tougher than Benedictine” tag on the Tygers.
Before Tressel’s mind turned to next Friday’s road opponent, the Tiger tutor directed a verbal bouquet toward his charges.
“I guess I can’t say much about the first couple of minutes. Everybody knows what happened. But our boys were tremendous after that. It shows you what desire can do,” he said.
The Massillon mentor, whose personal win streak now stands at 39, declared it a team victory – “there were no real standouts” – and said the three boys who fitted into things as replacements for the rugged Whitfield; Bruce Bixler, Al Slicker and John Halter, indicated by their performances that the coaching staff may have little to worry about as long as Whitfield is out.
* * *
WHITFIELD, WITH HIS injured foot encased in a special shoe, was suited up in case of an emergency and Tressel was happy because he didn’t have to call on the spunky senior co-captain.
Dick received the foot injury Wednesday but said nothing about it. He couldn’t walk Thursday morning and X-rays taken yesterday morning showed a chip in the large bone of his right foot.
When Whitfield will be able to return to action is a real question. Tressel is hopeful he’ll be available in a couple of weeks.
The Tigers, with the “5-man” backfield of Bob Rinehart, Benjamin, Hershberger, Chet Brown and “Chuck” Beiter shining all the way, held the upper hand in most phases of the statistical department. They made 17 first downs to Benedictine’s nine and ground out 257 yards rushing to a total of 123 for the Bengals.
The Clevelanders enjoyed an edge in the passing game as Quarterback Paul Hriske, who doubled as a fine defensive performer, lived up to his press notices. The Bengals hit on seven of 13 for 102 yards while the locals connected on two of five for 61 yards. And both of Rinehart’s pitches helped no end – the first completion of 17 yards setting up Massillon’s second touchdown and a strike good for 20 aiding the drive that led to the fourth.
Another bright spot for the Tigers was in the ball-handling department. They fumbled only once, and recovered same. They had one pass intercepted with that interception paving the way for Benedictine’s second quickie.
Benedictine won the toss and elected to receive. The decision was just right for the Bengals as Halfback George Sefcik, sturdy and swift, hauled it back for a touchdown that rocked the locals on their heels. Sefcik eyed an alley up the middle, cut to his right and away from a couple of would-be tacklers and after getting free at the Tiger 22, zipped into the end zone, past the final stripe to wind up an 85-yard return. His placement sailed to the left but the Orangemen were trailing 6-0 with only 11 seconds gone.
Benjamin returned the ensuing kickoff from his 15 to the 24 and after Brown picked up a guard, Dame Fortune turned a cold shoulder on the Tigers. Rinehart’s pass intended for childers at the enemy 40 was the target for Childers, Benjamin and Sefcik. Ivory got a hand on the ball but it came to rest in Sefcik’s and the Bendictine scooter got to the Tiger 43.
* * *
AFTER GARY HANSLEY, right half, made three yards at right tackle, Hrisko and Hansley clicked for a second Bengal TD. Hansley was all by his lonesome at the 25 and when he grabbed the pass at the 25 and raced into the end zone, Massillon was really in trouble.
Sefcik’s placement was again wide. Then the Tigers got plenty mean.
Hershberger returned the kickoff seven yards to the 32 and then teamed with Benjamin, Brown and Beiter for two first downs to the Bengal 41. Brown put the ball in scoring position via a 36-yard blast featuring some sharp blocking and Chester’s fancy footwork. Benjamin made three and Hershberger one before Mike banged the middle to make it a
12-6 ball game. It was still that way after his placement was blocked.
Benedictine had to punt two minutes later and on the last three plays of the quarter the Tigers moved from their own 21 to the 35. Controlling the ball as Rinehart, the two halfbacks and the two fullbacks carried the load, the locals used up 17 plays and over seven minutes for the tying touchdown. Benjamin’s 10-yard sweep and Beiter’s 13-yard buck up the middle helped place the pigskin on the one from where Benjamin tallied at right tackle. This time Hershberger’s kick was good and it was Massillon 13, Benedictine 12.
Twice during this drive the locals gambled, and won. On a fourth and four situation Benjamin got off his 10-yarder and with fourth and one at the four, Hershberger slammed off tackle for three.
Besides all this action, the Tigers were halted momentarily by a 15-yard clipping penalty.
During the remaining time neither team mustered a threat.
The Tigers marched 48 yards after receiving the second half kickoff. Hershberger’s 14-yard scamper was the chief gainer as they moved to the 15 before an offside violation put a crimp in their hopes for a third touchdown.
* * *
HOWEVER, MASSILLON chalked it up just a few seconds later. Benedictine had to punt but actually Benjamin didn’t get the chance to get on the go until Guard Joe Chapon punted three times.
The first time Benedictine was offside and the Tigers elected to have the Bengals punt again and the second time the visitors were offside and Massillon was called for clipping on Hershberger’s return. Finally there was nothing to wipe out the play – for which Tiger fans were happy.
Benjamin fielded Chapon’s boot at midfield, faked a handoff, and shifted into high gear. He was in “daylight” at the Bengal 35 and the rest of the chore was easy for the
swivel-hipped halfback. Hershberger again converted to make it 20-12 at 4:41.
Benedictine got to the Massillon 28 before Benjamin broke up a fourth down pitch by Hrisko and from that point the Tigers moved goal ward again. After Brown made 11 (he would have been long gone had not the last defender tripped him), Hershberger slipped and fell for a one-yard loss but sub halfback Jimmy Bivings sneaked behind the secondary, grabbed Rinehart’s toss and the 20-yard gainer put the oval on the Bengal 18 as the final period got under way.
Beiter gained two, Brown nine, Ivory four and Hershberger lost one before Beiter, moving to left half, cracked tackle for the score from the four. Once again Hershberger booted the point-after.
After Benedictine’s drive was stopped at the Tiger 31 the Orange had to punt and from their own 29 the Clevelanders went all the way as Hansley (once for 21 yards) and Sefcik (once for 16) ran for the needed yardage and Hrisko hit on three straight passes, the last one a 3-yarder to End Tom Pacl for the six-pointer.
Massillon made one first down and then lost 10 on a fumble before the contest came to an end.
The Tigers came out of the clean-played encounter with some bumps and bruises while Benedictine’s chief injury was Center Frank Kozlevchar’s twisted ankle.
MASSILLON – 27
ENDS – Brenner, Elavsky, Wells, Childres, Mays, Hagan.
TACKLES – Mercer, Bixler, Halter, A. Slicker, Brownlee, Slabuagh.
GUARDS – B. Brown, Meldrum, Heine, Heimann.
CENTERS – Krier, Kiplinger.
QUARTERBACKS – Rinehart.
HALFBACKS – Benjamin, Hershberger, Washington, Bivings, Pledgure, Stewart.
FULLBACKS – C. Brown, Beiter, Reese.
BENEDICTINE – 18
ENDS – Pacl, Mayher, Marek.
TACKLES – Skufca, Jakubowski, Zmarsly.
GUARDS – Sczurek, Chapon, Pusateri, Misencik.
CENTERS – Halasz, Kozlevchar, Naymik.
QUARTERBACK – Hrisko.
HALFBACKS – Hansley, Sefcik, Davis.
FULLBACKS – Kuretz, Kucera.
Scoring by quarters:
Benedictine 12 0 0 6 18
Massillon 6 7 7 7 27
Touchdowns – Beiter (4-run); Hershberger (1-run); Benjamin 2 (1-run, 50-yard punt return).
Extra points – Hershberger 3 (placements).
Touchdowns – Sefcik (85-kickoff return); Hansley (40-pass from Hrisko); Pacl (3-pass from Hrisko).
First downs rushing 16 5
First downs passing 1 4
First downs by penalties 0 0
Total first downs 17 9
Yards gained rushing 257 123
Yards lost rushing 24 6
Passes attempted 5 13
Passes completed 2 7
Yards gained passing 61 102
Net yards gained 294 219
Times kicked off 5 4
Average kickoff return 8.8 30.6
Yards kickoffs returned by 35 153
Times punted 2 3
Average punts (yards) 33 32
Yards punts returned by 50 -5
Had punts blocked 0 0
Total fumbles 1 1
Times lost ball on fumbles 0 0
Penalties 3 4
Yards penalized 25 30