Tigers Ready For Panthers; Warren Next As Altoona Falls 14-0
By CHUCK HESS, JR.
The “finest hour” is perhaps the best way to describe the Massillon Tigers’ performance at Altoona, Pa., Saturday night. But after the finest hour, off times come a stunning reversal of form.
Coming off a 14-0 win over one of Pennsylvania’s toughest, the Altoona high Mountain Lions, the Washington high eleven must guard against complacency. The Bengals will have another tough nut to crack Friday night when Warren Harding becomes the fourth straight to pit an undefeated record against Massillon this season.
The Obiemen took another big step in pursuit of a second straight state title Saturday night at Mansion Park before an estimated record standing room crowd of 16,000.
The Tigers got their 25th straight victory and gave Coach Earle Bruce his 40th in a row, including this year’s high school all-star game.
The Bengals’ running game operated to perfection. The blocks opened large holes in what must have been the finest up-front exhibition of the season for the Tigertowners. The backs did their best running of the season picking the holes just right. The defense hit about as hard as it ever has, diagnosing Altoona plays perfectly.
To do it, the Tigers had to beat a bigger team and one of the best they’ve played to date. The Lions battled down to the bitter end tenaciously but were thwarted at every turn by a gallant bunch of Ohioans determined to show the world that their brand of football is best.
The Orange and Black held the Altoonans to only 80 net yards rushing while picking up 255 yards themselves. Passing was almost even, 48-40. Total yardage 313 to 120 with first downs 18-7.
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ALTOONA got only one threat going. That was at the start of the second period when the Lions took over on their own 24-yard line after a punt and drove to the Bengal 17. But junior “monster back” Dale Gallion picked off a Dick Frasca pass in the end zone after it had been batted into the air and a touchback resulted. Massillon then moved for its first score of the night.
Altoona had seemingly lost the ball on downs at the Massillon 45 – the only time the Lions got out of their territory the whole night – but on the first play of the quarter, Massillon jumped off side with fourth and five, Altoona got a life.
Dick Beard, one of Pennsylvania’s finest halfbacks, took a pitchout from Frasca with third and 13 on the 43, cut right and raced to the 29 for a first down. Seven plays later came Gallion’s interception.
The Bengals went 80 yards to score, after the touchback, in 12 plays, chopping 6:35 off the clock. Key plays were passes from quarterback Dave Sheegog to fullback-halfback, Will Foster, playing on the wing this time, and right end Rick Paige and runs by Sheegog and left half Walt Lemon.
Sheegog ran right end for 10 yards and a first down from the Massillon 24. The aerial to Paige came on third down and carried to the 50. The pass to Foster covered 20 yards to the Altoona 20. Lemon ran straight ahead for 6 yards to the Lions’ 8 on a night when he amassed 132 yards in 22 times. All picked up first downs except Lemon.
Sheegog scored 2 plays after Lemon’s run on a first down play from the 7 on the option left. He tossed to Foster for the conversions with the clock showing 2:10 left in the first half.
After the touchdown, Frasca tried 3 straight passes from the Altoona 36, one to end Kevin Stitt, who was wide open, but that Lion aerial was too long. The third was intercepted by Paige on his 26 and run back to the Altoona 45.
With the help of an 8-yard run by Lemon and a 10-yard pass to Paige, Massillon got as far as the Altoona 30 when the first half ended.
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THE TIGERS had 2 promising drives stopped in the first quarter. They got a life on a fourth down, clipping penalty under a punt drive after the opening kickoff and drove to the Altoona 16 but ran afoul of holding and motion penalties.
After regaining the pigskin moments later following a punt, the Tigers got to the 50 but were slapped with a motion call.
In a touchdown drive, a procedure penalty set the Brucemen back 5 yards at one juncture.
Massillon’s other TD came early in the second half. The Tigers forced Altoona to punt after its first series. Paige ran back from the 40 to the Tiger 49, to start the drive.
The Obiemen took 8 plays and 4:45 to go the distance. Lemon got some more important yardage in this drive. “Sweet Walter,” having perhaps the finest night of his career, streaked off tackle for gains of 12, 11 and 14 yards, the last play taking the ball to the one from where Foster bulled over with 5:05 remaining. Sheegog faked to Foster, who had had a key, third down, 9-yard gain in the drive, and went left to make it 14-0.
The Tigers had a motion penalty during the drive, which looked like it was to have dire consequences. But then came Lemon’s run to the one.
Foster line-drived the kickoff into an Altoona player and recovered the rebound on the 50. However, Tony Lepore intercepted a pass on his 20 and returned to the 36.
On the second play from scrimmage, Paul Marks took his turn at intercepting, on the Altoona 40, and zipped down the sideline to the 25. Lemon came up with another sterling off-tackle run, this one for 7 yards. But Tommy James’ fourth down dive was inches short of a first down on the 4.
The fourth quarter saw only several changes of possession by both teams. Altoona came back from its 4 to its 38 after a Massillon drive fizzled, utilizing pass plays of 12 and 19 yards with Beard on the receiving end both times.
Late in the period, Mike Kraft grounded one of Rick Healy’s punts on the Altoona 5, putting the Lions deep in the hole. They got no runbacks at all off Healy’s fine punts, thanks to good coverage by the Tigers.
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BRUCE SAID of his team’s play, ‘They put forth a real good team effort! They were up for this one and had to be because Altoona had a great team, a club with a lot of talent.”
He went on, “We were about as well prepared for this game as any all season. The coaching staff really did a job.”
As to Lemon’s performance, Bruce exclaimed, ‘He played a great game!”
Bruce said that the quick pitch hurt early but then his team adjusted. Before the acclimation, Beard reeled off gains of 29 and 14 yards.
A dejected Altoona coach Earl Strohm said, “We just didn’t have it tonight. They were better than we were. We got one touchdown behind and when you do that on a muddy field, you’re in trouble. If the field hadn’t been wet, it might have been a high-scoring game all the way.”
Strohm thought things also might have been different had Frasca connected with Stitt at the end of the first half, because the Lions undoubtedly would have been back in the contest.
He praised the 2-way performance of halfback and linebacker Beard. “He’s a real good kid,” Strohm said.
Massillon came up with one injury. Sheegog sustained a bloody nose.
MASSILLON – 14
Ends – Paige, McGuire, Gallion, Healy.
Tackles – Hartley, Neago, Sherrett, Petroff, Campbell.
Guards – Whitfield, Rose, Richards, Kraft, Zorger.
Centers – Marks, Ehmer.
Quarterbacks – Sheegog, Doolittle.
Halfbacks – Foster, Lemon, James, Muhlbach, McFadden, McLendon.
Fullback – Manson.
ALTOONA – 0
Ends – Stitt, McGrath, Steinbugle.
Tackles – Traficante, Showalter, Ebersole.
Gaurds – Jeffco, Nedimyer, B. Geis.
Center – Thompson.
Quarterback – Frasca.
Halfbacks – Beard, Neaffer, Lepore, Speacht.
Fullbacks – Launchi, Madden.
Massillon 0 7 7 0 – 14
Touchdowns: Sheegog (7-yard run); Foster (one-yard run).
Extra points: Foster 1 (2-yard pass from Sheegog);
Sheegog 1 (2-yard run).
Referee – Lee Moyer.
Umpire – John Solic.
Head Linesman – Tony Senapole.
Field Judge – William Goodfellow.
First downs—rushing 14 4
First downs—passing 3 2
First downs—penalties 1 1
Total first downs 18 7
Yards gained rushing 269 93
Yards lost rushing 14 13
Net yards gained rushing 255 80
Net yards gained passing 48 40
Total yards gained 313 120
Passes attempted 7 15
Passes completed 3 4
Passes intercepted by 3 1
Yardage on passes intercepted 45 11
Times kicked off 3 1
Kickoff average (yards) 37.6 31.0
Kickoff returns (yards) 0 30
Times punted 3 5
Punt average (yards) 34.3 40.6
Punt returns (yards) 14 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 1 1
Lost fumbled ball 0 1
Penalties 5 1
Yards penalized 35 15
Touchdowns rushing 2 0
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous 0 0
Total number of plays 61 45