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Rams rush past Tigers 29-12

Independent dent Sports Editor Editor

MASSILLON – How good is Akron Garfield’s football team? Nearly 12,000 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium found out Friday night for themselves.

The Golden Rams rammed the football down Massillon’s collective throats en route to a 29‑12 win. Head coach Bill McGee’s squad gained all of its 348 yards on the ground.

So effective was Garfield’s rushing attack that the Rams attempted only one pass and that was intercepted! However, that play turned out to be one of the game’s biggest.

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Garfield, which ventured to the Division I state finals a year ago, literally dominated the game ‑ save for a few moments in the second period when the Tigers took a 12-7 lead following a 62‑yard touchdown run by junior Cornell Jackson.

Although the Rams held a slim 19‑16 edge in first downs, the Akron visitors owned the ball for over nine more minutes than Massillon in terms of possession.

Garfield gained 6.2 yards every time it rushed with the ball, and they carried the pigskin 55 times for 348 yards. Bruising fullback Eric Finn totaled 142 yards, quarterback John Oster added 105 and tailback Nate Winfield chipped in with 83 more.

Obviously, there was no secret as to what Garfield would do with the ball ‑ run, and then run some more. When the going got tough, the Rams simply got tougher.

The 17‑point deficit was the second worst defeat suffered by a Mike Currence‑coached Tiger squad during the regular season. Back in 1981 Massillon dropped a 24-6 decision to Cincinnati Moeller.

And the 29 points were the most surrendered by a Currence team in regular season play as well. For that matter, there have been 11 Tiger teams who gave up less than 29 points in a season!

Garfield (2‑0) struck first in the opening quarter when Oster, who also handled all of the kicking duties, scampered five yards to paydirt to culminate a nine‑play, 74-yard march following a Tiger punt. Oster added the extra‑point kick at the 3:29 mark.

Massillon, which failed to sustain anything resembling a drive during its 12-0 opening-season over Akron North, came roaring right back on its next possession.

Taking over at their own 23, the Tigers drove 77 yards in 14 plays when junior fullback Derrick Newman bulled over from a yard out. Dan Kozan’s kick at the 11:18 mark of the second period was wide.

All of Massillon’s yardage during the march was generated on the ground with quarterback Wes Siegenthaler netting 28 yards on four carries, twice converting on third‑down situations.

The Tiger defense dug in on Garfield’s ensuing set of downs, holding the Rams to seven yards and forcing them to punt for the only time in the game.

With the ball nestled deep in their own territory, the Tigers picked up a first down behind two Siegenthaler carries to the 38. Then, Jackson broke free on his 62‑yard jaunt, highlighted by a wicked stiff‑arm of a Ram defender near the 12‑yard line.

With 8:35 remaining in the half, the Tigers went for two points. Siegenthaler, though, was knocked out of bounds at the one, but Massillon was on top, 12‑7.

Needing another stout effort by the defense, the Rams proved to be just too much in marching 62 yards on 10 plays. This time Finn crossed the goal line from a yard out with 3:32 showing in the half. Oster added a two‑point ran for a 15‑12 lead.

Despite trailing by three points at intermission, the Tigers had shown they could move the ball on Garfield’s defense. But the Rams also displayed the same tenacity on offense.

The third period belonged to Garfield as the Tigers ran off just four plays to the Rams’ 20.

Garfield took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards in seven plays with Finn bulling his way in to paydirt from 10 yards out. A 27‑yard run by Oster on a keeper moved the ball from Ram territory into Tiger land. Oster added the kick‑after to put the visitors up 22‑12 with 8:58 left.

The Ram defense then held Massillon to minus yardage before getting the ball back on their own 40 following a 40‑yard punt by Scott Byelene.

This time the Rams moved 60yards in 13 plays, with Winfield scoring from three yards out. The key play, and the biggest of the game, occurred when Oster was forced to pass for the first time when Garfield was faced with a fourth and seven from the Tiger 26.

Oster’s pass was intercepted by Jeff Smith, who took off to his right with the errant throw. With running room and some blockers in front of him, he was hit from behind and lost his grip on the ball.

A Garfield lineman pounced on the ball, giving the Rams renewed life and a first down at the Tiger 21.

Six plays later Winfield scored to make it 29‑12 with 37 seconds left in the third period.

If the Tigers were to make a comeback, they had to do it the next time they had the ball. And they did, driving from their own 21 to a first and goal at the Garfield seven after converting three third down plays into first downs.

Two running plays kept the Tigers at the seven. An incomplete pass in the end zone followed before Siegenthaler was stopped at the two, turning the ball over to Garfield with 5:44 left. The Rams chewed up the remainder of the clock.

For Massillon, Jackson finished with 95 yards on 11 carries while Siegenthaler added 53 on 11 totes. Siegenthaler completed six of 12 passes for 50 yards.

Siegenthaler was knocked silly late in the third period and sat on the sidelines gathering his wits for six plays while junior Paul Fabianich took over. Fabianich attempted only one pass.
Rudy Sutter celebrated his 89th birthday Friday. He hasn’t missed a home Tiger game since 1941.
Ron and Marilyn Wright entertained fans as they entered the stadium with their traveling calliope, which was perched on the back of their newly‑acquired pick‑up truck. Their son, Ron Jr., played on the 1978 Massillon team.

Prep gridsticks

First downs rushing 11 19
First downs passing 4 0
First downs by penalty 1 0
Total first downs 16 19
Yards gained rushing 201 356
Yards lost rushing 28 8
Net yards rushing 173 348
Net yards passing 70 0
Total yards gained 243 348
Passes attempted 14 1
Passes completed 7 0
Passes int. by 0 1
Times kicked off 3 5
Kickoff average 45.0 44.0
Kickoff return yards 77 49
Punts 3 1
Punting rules 37.0 41.0
Punt return yards 0 17
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 4 2
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 2 1
Yards penalized 20 15
Touchdowns rushing 2 4
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 49 56
Time of Possession 19:24 28:36
Attendance 11,666

GARFIELD 7 8 14 0 29
MASSILLON 0 12 0 0 12

G ‑ John Oster 5 run (Oster kick)
M ‑ Derrick Newman 1 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Cornell Jackson 62 run (run failed)
G ‑ Eric Finn 1 run (Oster run)
G – Finn 10 run (Oster kick)
G – Nate Winfield 3 run (Oster kick)

Mike Scott