Tiger Gridders Defeat Akron South 28-0
Bengals Find Going Tough But Played Game Close To Vest
By CHARLIE POWELL
That Massillon Tiger football fans and all others among the crowd of 12,256 at Tiger stadium went home Friday night with mixed emotions just could be an under-statement.
After the 1958 band of Bengals clipped the wings of a spunky Akron South club 28-0, some folks seemed contented with a hot-and-cold running performance that marked the debut of Coach Leo Strang.
Others, like the good citizens of Missouri, want to be shown.
There were quite a few people, apparently, who were not satisfied with the margin of victory. They came expecting a real show of razzle-dazzle football and there were many, too, who pictured the Tiger clan running the Cavaliers right out of the stadium. Before too much second-guessing, fans perhaps should keep three things in mind:
(1) That the Tigers played it close to the vest; (2) that they need a little more time to
synchronize the attack; and (3) that South has a better team than lots of people figured.
* * *
STRANG’S GANG struck for three touchdowns in the first half and from there on out they played under wraps. True, the Tigers used several plays from the spread formation and kept things interesting with a sharp passing attack but as a whole, they didn’t reach into their bags of tricks. They didn’t have to.
South helped matters along, favoring the nattily-attired host crew with a fumble, a poor punt, a penalty and a deflected pass that paved the way for three Massillon TDs.
Aside from the gifts, the orange and black made many fans happy with a 63-yard march for their third touchdown. A 72-yard run by co-captains and Fullback Dave Dean had them buzzing too but after Dean rambled to the South 18, the Tigers could go no further than the 16 in four plays.
This run went to waste midway in the third period but before the fourth quarter arrived, a bad South punt made a fourth Tiger six-pointer possible.
Quarterback Joe Sparma, who hit on seven of 10 passes for the night, tallied the last touchdown. The others were made by Dean from the seven after Massillon recovered a fumble at the Cavalier 24; big Bill Zorn who was standing in the end zone when South’s Jim Turner deflected the ball into his hands (on a Sparma pass) in the first stanza; and the other giant end, Bob Vogel, whose catch of a Sparma aerial on a play covering 14 yards climaxed the 63-yard drive late in the second quarter.
* * *
VOGEL MADE the first two and only extra points and thus became the first Massillon player in history to rack up a two-point conversion. Under the new rule he scored four points, twice converting Dean’s touchdown by going across on an end-around play and then after Zorn’s score by hauling in a jump pass from Sparma.
Other “first” of the new campaign had Dean scoring the first touchdown and carrying the ball for the first time. Halfback Cornelius Clark making the first tackle on the game-opening kick-off, Zorn receiving the first pass on the second touchdown, Sparma throwing the first pass on the same play, and Clark recovering the first fumble on the second play from scrimmage.
Ultra-important, naturally, was the first digit in the win column. Victory No. 2 will be sought next Friday night when Canton Lincoln comes here. Lincoln will open its season against Cuyahoga Falls at Fawcett stadium this evening.
If everything goes right, the forward pass will be a big threat against the Lions and all other future foes.
Coach Strang, miffed at some of the mistakes the boys made but realizing the need for more work, found no blame with the air arm.
Sparma’s seven completions (two others were almost caught by Vogel who made an extra big effort both times) were good for 68 yards. The two touchdown plays and two other snags by Zorn gained over 12 yards each, while three shorter connections were made.
* * *
ZORN GOT his hooks on two pegs, one for 13 yards and the other for 14 during the
63-yard drive while another end, Jerry Mitchell, made a nifty catch for eight yards during a final quarter march that ate up 62 yards before it fizzled out due to a fumble.
The 68 yards through the air and 220 by rushing gave the Bengals a net of 288 yards. South collected 141 on the ground and 20 yards in its only completed pass. Most other statistics favored the local team with first downs being 12-9.
South ran the ball 38 times and for some strange reason, remained on the ground after it was three and four touchdowns in arrears.
The Cavaliers provided the Massillon offense with somewhat of a problem at times. Their defense was sparked by guard Mose Burrell who was all over the field much like South’s 1957 star, Owensby Pearson.
The Bill Hawkins-coached outfit suffered a cruel blow when Jim Brooks, a tough defensive end, sustained an injury in the third period. He had ligaments in his knee torn and apparently is through for the season.
Massillon came out of the fracas with two injuries.
* * *
THE DEFENSE of the Tigers wasn’t the same after middle guard Hase McKey retired in the second quarter because of a leg injury. He did not play at all in the second half. Guard and linebacker Gail Karrenbauer received a cut on the cheek, which required two stitches. Both boys should be in shape for the Lincoln contest.
The game was only about a minute old when the diminutive Clark pounced on a fumble at the South 24-yard line. In five plays and at 8:52 Strang’s combine clicked for its first touchdown of the season.
Dean ran three times for 17 yards and after Tailback Jim Hershberger was held for no gain. Dean cracked the middle for six points. On the conversion, the Tigers completely fooled the invaders with the end-around. Vogel made it good although he fumbled in the end zone.
On the kickoff that followed, South was penalized 15-yards for clipping but it got one first down before being forced to punt. A host of Tigers blocked the try by Halfback Danny Spencer and it was Massillon’s ball at the Cavalier 26.
* * *
THE TIGERS also took advantage of this break. Dean, Hershberger and Wingback Jim Wood made a first down and after an in-motion penalty, Dean and Wood carried to the 13 from which point the Sparma-Zorn combination worked for six – with a stroke of luck. The pass, coming on fourth and one, was knocked up in the air by Turner but Zorn, behind Turner and Leon Harris, was there to catch it as it came down. Vogel took Sparma’s jump pass and it was 16-0 with 1:54 left in the quarter.
The next time Massillon had possession Hershberger quick-kicked 33 yards. South moved from its own 28 to the Massillon 36 before a fumble, with Zorn recovering, ended the drive.
Mixing up pass plays and power slants, the Bengals went all the way in 10 plays. In addition to a catch by Zorn, for a total of 28 yards, Hershberger had a seven-run blast and Dean rammed for nine. At the 14 it was fourth and one when Sparma found Vogel all by his lonesome in the end zone. Dean was stopped shy of the goal line on the conversion attempt with only 38 seconds remaining in the half.
After an exchange in the third panel, it was Massillon’s ball at its own seven. Corky Pledgure, in at tailback, picked up three before Dean got loose.
Dave hit off the left side and saw daylight at the 25. He cut toward the sidelines and appeared to be going all the way but Harris caught him from behind at the Cavalier 18.
* * *
THE 72-YARD jaunt went for naught because of what happened in the next four plays. Hershberger made two. Sparma’s pass was just out of the reach of Vogel near the final stripe. Wood lost a foot on a reverse. On last down Sparma whipped a jump pass to Wood but the latter, boxed in as he made the reception, was stopped after a three-yard gain.
South made little progress due to a penalty and a fumble and the Akronites had to kick. Spencer’s poor punt was caught by sub Fullback Bob Morrow at the 25, where he was promptly earthed. But a 15-yard clipping call against South put the oval on the Cavalier 10.
Hershberger rolled to the one-foot line and then was held at the line of scrimmage before Sparma sneaked across as play in the quarter ran out. Pledgure swept to the left on the PAT attempt, was halted short of the Promised Land, and that was the final score, 28-0.
In the last session the Tigers went on the prowl in a fine way. They barreled from their own four (following a clipping penalty on a South punt) to the enemy 33. Enroute Pledgure checked in with a 13-yard pickup, Dean ran once for 10 and a pass, Sparma to Mitchell made eight. On third down at the South 40, Sparma fumbled with Spencer recovering for the visitors. That was that.
After a pushing penalty against South, a delay-of-game penalty against Massillon, three runs good for 31 yards and a pass which made 20, Strang’s debut and Assistant “Ducky” Schroeder’s 100 consecutive game here went into the history books.
First Downs – Rushing 8 6
First Downs – Passing 4 1
First Downs – Penalties 0 2
Total First Downs 12 9
Number of Rushing Plays 50 39
Yards Gained – Rushing Plays 228 141
Yards Lost – Running Plays 8 20
Net Yardage – Running 220 121
Passes Attempted 10 1
Passes Completed 7 1
Passes Had Intercepted 0 0
Yards Returned –
Intercepted Passes 0 0
Yards Gained – Passing 68 20
Net Yardage – Running and
Passing 288 141
Number of Kickoff Returns 1 4
Yardage – Kickoff Returns 31 57
Average Length of Kickoff
Returns 31 14.2
Number of Punt Returns 2 0
Yardage – Kickoff Returns 9 0
Average Length of Kickoff
Returns 4.5 0
Number of Punts 1 3
Total Yardage on Punts 33 102
Average Length of Punts 33 34
Number of Penalties 5 8
Yards Lost on Penalties 35 70
Number of Fumbles 3 3
Own Fumbles Recovered 1 1
Ball Lost on Fumbles 2 2