Tigers whip Warren Harding 36‑6
Offense awesome as Tigers trample hapless Harding

By MIKE HUDAK
Independent Sports Editor

WARREN ‑ The door to the Warren Harding coaches’ office had been closed for a long time. Reporters stood outside wondering if they should dare enter.

“I wouldn’t walk in unless it’s very important, ” said a middle‑aged lady wearing a Panther jacket.

Most of the media walked away, cause they knew that Harding head coach Frank Thomas, a former Massillon defensive coordinator, had called Friday’s game “a big one for our team, our season, our program and myself.”

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So, nothing could be important enough to bother Thomas after his team had been humiliated 36‑6 by the Massillon Tigers. The score was misleading; the Tigers led 33‑0 at halftime, and seemingly could have won 100‑0 if they desired; instead, Massillon coach Mike Currence was content to use the second half as a long workout for the reserves.

The Tigers would have registered their first shutout of the year if Harding’s all purpose senior Greg Bumbu hadn’t picked up a meaningless fumble in the fourth quarter and raced 60 yards for the final score of the game.

Needless to say, Currence was impressed by the offensive explosion which set the Panthers into early comatose shock.

“I’ve shed many a tear in this lockerroom; this was certainly a welcome victory.

But did he expect the overwhelming proportions of the landslide?

“You always hope for a game like this, but it was one of those nights when everything clicked, even the halfback option,” he stated. “But I was especially pleased by the way we capitalized on our opportunities. That’s the sign of a champion, and hopefully a sign that we’ve come of age. But as good as we were tonight, we have to start all over again next week against Central Hower.”

The first half was a sight to behold. It was the biggest mismatch since Chuck Wepner stepped into the ring against Mohammed Ali.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched 72 yards in eight plays. The first two plays saw Tiger tailback Chris Spielman run off gains of 14 and 35 yards, immediately panicking a defense whose previous two game defensive totals had been halved in Massillon’s first two plays from scrimmage!

The drive ended at the 8:32 mark when junior quarterback Brian DeWitz hit senior receiver Jim Geiser with an 8‑yard scoring pass, with Bronc Phisterer’s conversion kick good.

In was three plays and punt for Harding, and the Tigers revved up again. Started successfully on the ground, the Tigers caught the Panthers napping as DeWitz hit receiver Gary Conley with a 44‑yard bomb to the Panther one. Sampsel then smashed over for the score, with the ensuing kick no good.

Harding started to mount a drive when senior co‑captain Greg Bumbu caught a 41‑yard pass from quarterback Tom Butler for good position at the Tiger 37, but then Tyrone Nelson fumbled and the Tigers’ Speilman recovered.

The Tigers had to actually punt the ball once before getting it back and scoring again with 9:20 remaining in the half. With a drive starting on their own 37, it ended shortly later with a 25‑yard pass from DeWitz to Conley. The conversion failed, but the Tigers led 19‑0.

Again the Panthers were stopped without a first down. This time the Tigers marched 40 yards in five plays, with Spielman taking scoring honors with a 17‑yard run. The kick was good and the margin had jumped to 26‑0 with 5:50 remaining in the half.

The snake‑bitten Panthers connected on another bomb to the Tiger 40, but then the quarterback promptly fumbled twice on the same play with the Tigers recovering on the Harding 45.

The Tigers then reached into the magician’s bag of tricks and connected on a halfback option play from Spielman to Geiser which almost hit paydirt. Tiger fullback Tom Gruno shortly thereafter plunged, over, the kick was good and the Tigers led 36‑0.
Tigers now 3‑0 and a power
Warren promptly fumbled the ensuing kickoff back to the Tigers, but the visitors graciously allowed the clock to expire without further bombardment.

The game was over at halftime for all intents and purposes. Second half scoring consisted of a 25‑yard field goal by Pfisterer and Harding’s fumble return off a quarterback sack.

The halftime stats were incredible. At that point, the Tigers led in total yardage 279‑65, despite only holding the ball for two more minutes. In the final totals, the Tigers outgained the Punters 406‑96, gaining 231 yards rushing and 175 through the air. Harding’s success came through the air; the Panthers ‑ were negative‑10 rushing on the night.

Spielman led Tiger rushers with none carries yards, while Jim Bushe carried 11 times for 78 yards. DeWitz wasn’t needed much but he was an effective four‑of-seven for 88 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, the talented junior has yet to have anything but a fine game. Conley led the team in receptions with four four yards; Conley and John Pierce hauled down three passes each.

All in all it was a great night for the Tigers who rose to 3 and did nothing to jeopardize their computer or UPI rankings. Harding fell to 2‑1 with the loss and must attempt to pick up the pieces.

Was there anything at all about the game which wasn’t fine from the Tigers’ standout?

“We, we looked flat in pre‑game drills,” chuckled Currence who hopes he’s on the road to something special here in 1982.

MASSILLON 36
W. HARDING 6
M W
First downs rushing 14 1
First downs passing 5 5
First downs by penalty 0 1
Totals first downs 19 7
Yards gained rushing 252 37
Yards lost rushing 21 47
Net yards rushing 231 -10
Net yards passing 175 106
Total yards gained 406 96
Passes attempted 13 16
Passes completed 7 9
Passes int. by 0 0
Yardage on pass int.
Times kicked off 7 2
Kickoff average 53.7 29.5
Kickoff return yards 19 109
Punts 3 6
Punting average 34.5 30.6
Punt return yards 16 0
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 2 4
Fumbles lost 1 3
Penalties 5 2
Yards penalized 45 17
Touchdowns rushing 3 0
Touchdowns passing 2 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 1
Number of plays 55 42
Time of possession 25:36 22:24

Massillon 13 20 0 3 36
W. Harding 0 0 0 6 6

M ‑ Geiser 6‑yard pass from DeWits. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Sampsel 1‑yard run. (Kick failed.)
M ‑ Conley 25‑yard pass from DeWits. (Run failed.)
M ‑ Spielman 17‑yard run. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Gruno 1‑yard run. (Phisterer kick.)
M ‑ Phisterer 25‑yard field goal.
W ‑ Bumbu 60‑yard ran with a fumble recovery. (Pass failed.)

Jeff Boerner