Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Conversion pass trips Tigers 8-7
In hard-hitting contest with Golden Bears


The Massillon Tigers and the Upper Arlington Golden Bears battled Friday night in one of the hardest hitting games seen at Tiger Stadium in recent years and as Tiger Coach Chuck Shuff said, ‘We came out on the short end of the stick.”

Over 12,000 spectators watched Arlington win, 8-7.

It was a shame somebody had to lose.

FOR THE most part the game was a brutal defensive struggle – resulting in three incapacitating injuries and several other lesser injuries.

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Arlington’s star halfback and punter Kyle Mercer suffered a broken leg and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. Massillon’s Jeff Lab received a leg injury and will be out for the next few games. Arlington end Bob Sorrell injured an already weak knee and will probably need several weeks to recover.

“Losing Mercer is a terrible blow to our offense,” Bears Coach Pete Corey said following the game. “We were thin in experienced backs already.”

Mercer was carried off the field on a stretcher, as were Lab and Sorrell.

Mercer made an outstanding punt from inside the Bears’ 30-yard line in the second quarter and most fans watched the ball sail down to the Massillon 18. On that play Mercer was injured and the game was delayed several minutes until he was carried off the field. During that period Corey went onto the field and argued with Referee James Keffer because there was no penalty for roughing the kicker.

COREY SAID he was told the punter’s momentum carried him into the rushing defenders. He quit arguing with Keffer and talking to the Bears’ trainer about the injury when Keffer interrupted, Corey said.

“I told him to shut up and he said ‘I don’t have to take that’ and he called a technical on me for 15 yards,” Corey stated.

Shuff said his understanding of the play was that the Tiger defender was blocked into Mercer’s path as he kicked the ball.

In the locker room after the game Shuff expressed pride in the over-all performance of the Tigers.“The kids played good football. That was the best hitting in two years…There were a few mistakes that hurt us, but it was a spectacular effort,” he said.

EVEN THOUGH Massillon lost, Shuff was obviously more pleased with the Tigers’ performance against Arlington than he was with the team’s performance against Nordonia last Friday.

“We spotted a weakness in the secondary,” Corey said and that’s how Arlington won

Quarterback Scott Immell completed 6 of 11 passes, one for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and one for the two-point conversion that gave the Bears the 8-7 edge.

Corey said his staff noticed the Tiger secondary was making more tackles on rushing plays than it should, getting out of position, “So we passed.”

Shuff said of the Arlington scores, “We expected the pass and signaled to the kids, but they didn’t respond.”

The first half ended scoreless. Arlington got inside Massillon’s 40-yard line once in that half, on a fumble recovery at the Tigers 37. The Tiger’s got inside the Arlington 40 once in that half, driving the ball from their 37 to the Bears’ 26, where an illegal procedure penalty halted the drive.

MASSILLON’S scoring drive in the third quarter started at the Tiger 35-yard line. Bill Harmon took the ball up the middle for a couple yards and then Jay Harper, a 5-5,
147-pound junior, ran through the line and scampered to the Bears’ 39.

Quarterback Todd Keller pitched back to Harper on the next play, but the ball went past Harper and he jumped on it at midfield. After he jumped on the ball some over-eager Arlington defenders jumped on Harper, and a 15-yard penalty was stepped off against the Bears.

Harmon carried twice and then Harper took the ball again, but the only thing he gained was a headache. After a crunching tackle Harper stood up, fell down and was assisted off the field.

Tom Grizzard split through the right side of the line next and got to the 17. Harmon ran for one yard and a first down and when the pile of players was unscrambled, Sorrell remained on the turf and had to be carried off.

Grizzard ran to the two-yard line and Harmon took the ball to the goal when Massillon was caught on another procedure infraction. Grizzard went from the five to the one and then Harmon pushed over the goal with 1:47 left in the third quarter. Keith Harmon’s kick was good and the score was 7-0.

IN THE FOURTH period, a punt by Mercer’s replacement David Webb, rolled to the Massillon one-yard line and the Tigers ran the ball out to the 21 before punting it back. Arlington started at the Tiger 43 after the punt return and in 10 plays the Bears’ crossed the goal.

Bill Piccinini, who was playing only defense until Mercer’s injury, ran for 15 yards on first down and was tackled hard by Tom Grizzard on the next play and left the game. He returned on fourth-and-two and picked up the first down at the 17, fullback Ben Tenita went to the 12 and Piccinini ran to the six.

On third down at the five, Immell faked to Tenuta up the middle, rolled to his right and lofted the ball to end Duke Dahlen, who was all alone and caught the pass for six points. Immell did the same thing for the conversion, except the receiver who was all alone was halfback Larry Self, another Mercer replacement. He caught the pass and the score was
8-7 with 1:47 left to play.

Seconds later Keller completed a 23-yard pass to Keith Harmon and on second-and-10 at the Massillon 43 Keller threw to tight end Mark Matie. The ball left Matie’s hands at the Arlington 47, the Bears recovered the ball and ran out the clock for the victory.

The pass to Matie caused some discussion in the locker room. “It was an incomplete pass, no doubt about it,” Shuff said. Matie had to turn around to catch the ball and never had possession when he dropped it, Shuff explained. But it was ruled a fumble and Arlington’s coverage killed the Tigers’ last chance.

“BUT ONE PLAY doesn’t make a ball game,” Shuff said, “there were so many plays that came so close…”

Corey said Massillon was the toughest team the Bear’s have faced and will probably remain so through the rest of the season. As for his athletes, he said, “This was the truest team victory I’ve ever been associated with. It was reminiscent of the 1967 game.” (Arlington also won that contest by a single point, 7-6).

Summing up, Shuff said the Tigers know they did their best and “they’ll definitely be ready” for Niles McKinley next week.

U. Arlington 0 0 0 8 8
Massillon 0 0 7 0 7

Massillon – B. Harmon, 1 yard run (conversion kick by K. Harmon).
U. Arlington – Dahlen, 5 yard pass from Immell (conversion pass from Immell to Self).

Ends – Ransom, Webb, Costin, Dahlen, Dewitt, Dugger, Conie, Sorrell, Hoyl.
Tackles – Lewis, Jacobs, Cunningham.
Guards – Drake, Solomon, Checkles, Triplehorn, Boggs, Hall, Gunderson, Hohman.
Centers – Rayo, Thompson.
Quarterbacks – Immell, Gray.
Running backs – Rechel, Mercer, Bigham, Cecutti, Tenuta, Piccinini, Self, Shaw.

Ends – Arner, Conley, Chovan, Bammerlin, Matie.
Tackles – Genet, Drobney, Easter, Mike Lauber.
Guards – King, Schumacher, Christoff, Bettilyon.
Center – Nagle.
Quarterback – Keller.
Running backs – B. Harmon, K. Harmon, Stewart, Warthen, Simpson, Harper, Lab, A. Grizzard, T. Grizzard, Ellis, Parson, Dorsey, Martin.

Referee – James Keffer.
Head Linesman – Roger Thompson.
Back Judge – Ronald Giacomo.
Umpire – Jack Werkowitz.
Field Judge – Hugh Davis.

First downs-rushing 8 9
First downs-passing 1 3
First downs-penalties 1 0
Total first downs 10 12
Yards gained rushing 181 141
Yards lost rushing 22 33
Net yards gained rushing 159 108
Net yards gained passing 32 52
Total yards gained 191 160
Passes attempted 8 11
Passes completed 2 6
Passes intercepted by 0 0
Yardage on passes intercepted 0 0
Times kicked off 2 2
Kickoff average (yards) 53.0 56.5
Kickoff returns 9yards) 20 21
Times punted 5 7
Punt average (yards) 35.6 39.1
Punt returns (yards) 18 0
Had punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 2 0
Lost fumbled ball 2 0
Penalties 4 4
Yards penalized 35 60
Touchdowns rushing 1 0
Touchdowns passing 0 1
Touchdowns by interception 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Total number of plays 47 68
Total time of possession 19:53 28:07

Bill Harmon