Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Massillon wins 16‑ 6 to raise record to 8‑0
Defense rallies Tigers over Panthers

Independent Sports Editor


The crowd chanted it as the Warren Harding Panthers tried to move the ball at the start of the third quarter.

was how Tiger coach Mike’ Currence summed up his team’s eighth straight win of the season and first victory over Warren since 1976.

And plenty of it helped the Massillon Tigers pull out a 16‑6 win over Warren and take another big step toward their quest of qualifying for the state computer playoffs.

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The Tigers and Panthers were deadlocked 6‑6 at halftime, but the 13,285 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday night knew what they wanted.

They stood and cheered as the team took the field to start the second half. The Tigers kicked off and Warren took over at its own 28.

The crowd started its chant:

“Defense! Defense!”

Three plays later they were on their feet again as Jim Blogna intercepted a Panther pass at the Warren 43 and returned it to the one yard line.

Dave DeLong took it in on a quarterback sneak, and the way the Tiger defense was playing, that was just about the ball game right there.

“Jim Blogna,” Currence said, relishing his monster Lack’s name. “That was a big play, wasn’t it?”

That wasn’t the only big play, as the defense held Warren to 89 yards total offense the second half and pinned the Panthers with a total of 40 yards in losses during the game.

Currence said the enthusiasm of the crowd at the start of the second half was a real boost to his team.

“The crowd really helped us,” he said. “It took some of the vinegar out of them.

“We were uptight for this game. Tighter than we’ve been for any game this year. This win meant a lot to these kids, and to the coaching staff, too.”

Also giving the Tigers an emotional boost the second half was the return of defensive tackles Dave Geschwind and Bryant Lemon. Both players have missed games because of knee injuries and saw only limited action in the first half.

Lemon, in fact, wasn’t expected to play at all.

“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” Currence said. “Jim Blogna, Jeff Fry (who booted a 25‑yard field goal in the fourth quarter to boost the Tigers lead from 13‑6 to 16‑6) and Bob Simpson. Simpson was sick all week and didn’t even practice.

“And how about Lemon and Geschwind coming in there and playing so well?”

Bob James, the junior fullback who was switched to defensive tackle for this game because of all the injuries at that position, also did well. He recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter that set up Fry’s field goal.

The Tiger offense had an off night, but Currence put that into perspective.

“They did a good job on us. Warren is an aggressive football team. Nobody’s scored more than two touchdowns against them all year. Give them 13 points a game and they would have been undefeated (they are now 4‑4).”

Harding coach Tom Ross was distraught over his team’s loss.

“We were just a step away from breaking a run here and a run there,” he said. “All we needed to happen was for a couple of those big plays to break.

“I thought the kids hung tough with it. I think Massillon’s defensive front was every bit as tough as we thought it was coming in. But we knew what we had to do, we just didn’t get it done.

“We gave them the big turnovers. One resulted in a touchdown and the other in a field goal and that was the game. I wish them the best of luck.”

Both teams played the game without several key starters. The Tigers had injured fullback Sam McDew on the bench the whole game. Quarterback Bill Scott hurt his calf in the second quarter and didn’t return. And for most of the first half, Lemon and Geschwind saw little action.

Warren played without three defensive players, two of whom also start on offense.

It was a hard‑hitting football game from the opening whistle, and the outcome was in doubt until Fry’s insurance field goal early in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and managed to drive to the Panther 43 yard line before the drive stalled. Mike Hodgson punted the ball into the end zone and Warren took over on its own 20.

They were forced to punt from their own 24 and Dave Preston kicked the ball off the side of his foot for only 15 yards.

The Tigers took over at the Panther 39 and in nine plays drove to the three yard line.

On third and goal from the three, Scott rolled right and passed to Bill Beitel in the right corner of the end zone for a 6‑0 lead with 1:11 to go in the first period. Fry’s extra point kick hit the left upright and bounced back.

Warren took over following the kickoff and drove out to its own 41 early in the second quarter. On third and nine, Panther quarterback Two Freeman hit Pat Shannon with a short pass and the speedy wingback broke several tackles and scooted 27 yards before he was hit and fumbled the ball. Dan DiLoreto recovered for the Tigers at his own 32.

However, Scott lost the ball on a bad exchange from center on the Tigers’ first play and Hassan Hameed recovered for Warren at the 31.

Seven plays later, on fourth and sixth at the Tiger 12 yard line, Freeman rolled right and lofted a pass to Shannon in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Preston’s kick was wide right and the game was tied 6‑6 with 8: 11 to go in the half.

The Tigers took the kickoff and drove to the Warren 24, but Scott was sacked for a 10‑yard loss by Doug Carter.

On third and 20 from the 34, Scott threw a pass down the left sideline to a wideopen Bill Burkett but the ball was just off his fingertips.

Hogdson punted the ball intentionally short, trying to pin the Panthers deep in a hole, but Mike Golden picked up the rolling kick at the six yard line and almost broke it all the way. He was finally hauled down at midfield.

The Panthers tried a halfback pass on third down, but Len Robinson broke up the play near the goal line.

The half ended shortly thereafter.

When the Tigers came back out to open the third quarter, the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

Blogna made his interception when Fremman, looking to pass on a third and three play from the 35, was rushed hard and forced his pass.

Blogna raced for the goal line with the ball and was knocked out of bounds at the one. DeLong then scored the go‑ahead touchdown and Fry’s kick made it 13‑7 with 9:49 to go in the third quarter.

The defense got another standing ovation from the crowd when it stopped the Panthers on their next possession and forced them to punt.

Following a Massillon punt Warren took over on its own 22 yard line.

Jeff Rowe gained six yards on first down, but Simpson and Geschwind nailed Walt Campbell for an eight‑yard loss when he took a deep pitch on the next play.

A screen pass to Shannon netted 12 yards, but the Panthers were forced to punt again.

The Tigers managed a pair of first downs on DeLong passes of 11 yards to Greg Evans (he was shaken up on the play) and 16 to Marty Guzzetta.

The latter pass moved the ball to the Warren 30, but Mike Jones fumbled on the ensuing play and Warren recovered at its own 22.

Geschwind, Lemon and Simpson sacked Freeman for a five‑yard loss on first down, and the right side of the Tiger line nailed Campbell for no gain on second down.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Tom Mummertz and Simoson nailed Freeman at the 12 yard line and he coughed up the football, with James recovering at the Panther 14.

The Tigers advanced to the eight yard line when Fry was summoned on fourth down to attempt the field goal. His 25‑yard try from the left hash mark was good and gave the Tigers a 10‑point cushion.

Warren’s Aaron Pugh then returned Fry’s kickoff from his own nine yard line to the Tiger 35, but offsetting penalties (holding on Warren and face mask on Massillon) allowed the Tigers to kick over.

John Mayles Jeff Grove and Steve Tomasevich nailed Larren Morgan at his own 27 yard line this time.

The Panthers then went to the shotgun formation and Freeman completed his first pass for seven yards to Lamont Grant.

Freeman ran for a first down on the next play, but on first down from the Panther 40, Simpson used his great speed to chase Freeman down and sack him for an 11‑yard loss.

Mummertz pressured Freeman into an incompletion on the next play, and Hodgson batted down his next passing attempt behind the line of scrimmage.

Warren punted and the Tiger defense got another standing ovation as it left the field.

The Tigers couldn’t move the ball, but Hodgson boomed a 55‑yard punt to the Warren eight yard line.

The Panthers took over from there with 6:20 to go on the clock and drove to the Massillon six yard line with just under two minutes left.

On first down from there, Simpson and Geschwind nailed Morgan for a two yard loss, and on the following play, Lemon and Geschwind sacked Freeman for an eight‑yard loss.

Freeman then threw long for Shannon at the goal line, but Len Robinson knocked the ball away and almost intercepted the pass.

On fourth down from the 16, Freeman threw for Shannon again in the right corner of’ the end zone and the ball was tipped in the air. Before anyone could catch it, Robinson came crashing through, knocking the Panther receiver out of the way.

The Tigers then ran out the final minute on the clock.

The Tigers now have only games against Timken (at home) and McKinley (away) remaining, and a pair of wins should qualify them for the state computer playoffs for the first time since 1972.

Currence has said he will try to rest some of his injured players against Timken. They will have to be ready for the McKinley game, because the Bulldogs have been shooting for this game since last season’s 13‑10 loss in Tiger Stadium.

But right now, Currence and his Tigers will take a few days to savor their win over the Panthers.

First downs:
Rushing 4 8
Passing 6 4
Penalty 0 0
Total 10 12
Yds gain rush 95 137
Yds lost rush 15 40
Net yds rush 80 97
Net yds pass 90 91
Total yds gain 170 188
Pass attempted 18 20
Pass completed 10 8
Pass int by 1 0
Pass int yds 35 0
Kickoffs 4 2
Kickoff ave 55.0 31.5
Kickoff ret yds 21 58
Punts 5 5
Punt ave 35.0 26.6
Punt ret yds 1 45
Punts blocked 0 0
Fumbles 3 3
Fumbles lost 2 2
Penalties 2 3
Yds penalized 10 11
TDs rushing 1 0
TDs passing 1 1
TDs by int 0 0
Other TDs 0 0
No. of plays 50 53
Time of poss 23:12 24:48
Attendance 11,385

WARREN 0 6 0 0 6
MASS I LLON 6 0 7 3 16

Mass ‑ Bill Beitel 3 pass from Bill Scott (kick fail)
WH ‑ Pat Shannon 12 pass from Tom Freeman (kick fail)
Mass ‑ Dave DeLong 1 run (Jeff Fry kick)
Mass ‑ Fry 25 FG

Marty Guzzetta