Tigers lose 3rd straight
By STEVE DUNGJEN
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ Ugh! What next?
It seems the Midas Touch has left the Massillon Tiger football camp these days.
Rather than turning to gold, things have been going so poorly in Tigertown that … well, everything is turning to rust.
They don’t talk defeats around here, but lately there hasn’t been much else to discuss over supper.
And you can forget the dessert, Tigertowners. Massillon has lost another one, this one a 20‑18 setback to visiting Akron Central‑Hower Friday nigh at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The defeat was the third straight for the Tigers, who haven’t tasted victory since a 12-0 opening night win over Akron North.
Not since 1966 has Massillon had to go longer than two weeks without a win. Not even, the newly‑installed “Tiger Stripe” could help lift the spirits of the players and fans alike.
Things got so bad against Central-Hower that the Tigers saw a 12-0 advantage turn into a 20‑12 deficit. At that point, the stands began to empty.
Even Tiger head coach Mike Currence was at a loss for words to explain what happened.
“I really don’t have any comments,” the disgruntled veteran coach of nine years said in the hosts’ grim locker room. “I don’t have any answers. We need some time to re-group.”
And with that Currence closed the post‑game interview. He was not a happy man, and in no mood to share his thoughts with anybody but his players and coaching staff.
For the second straight week the Tigers held the upper hand in the game’s statistics, holding a 21‑9 edge in first downs and a 404‑314 edge in total yardage.
And for the second straight week, you couldn’t buy the paper the statistics were printed on. The one figure that counted the most – found on the scoreboard – told the sad but true tale.
Things started out regally enough for Tiger fans as the hosts took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards in six plays to pay dirt, Derrick Newman following a convoy of blockers to the end zone from 12 yards out.
Big plays in the drive were, a 37‑yard run by newly‑installed fullback Duane Crenshaw and a 13‑yard gain on third and four by Newman.
However, the first of two missed extra-point kicks, one by Todd Manion and another by sophomore Mike Norris, would come back to haunt the Tigers.
The Eagles (1‑2) then strung together a 13‑play drive of their own, but the march was stopped when John Fresh recovered a fumble caused by the tackle of teammate Darren Radtke.
Both teams took turns punting on their next possessions, with the Tigers taking over on their own 31 following a 15‑yard return by Wes Siegenthaler, the starting quarterback.
Massillon chewed up over five minutes of the clock and despite three 15‑yard penalties drove 69 yards to the end zone, scoring on an eight-yard run by Siegenthaler. The extra point kick this time sailed wide left.
Siegenthaler, who completed nine of 13 passes on the night for 61 yards, hit his favorite target ‑ Bruce Spicer ‑twice for long gains in key situations on the drive.
With 7:11 remaining before halftime, the Tigers held a 12‑0 lead and the fans were whooping it up.
Central‑Hower took over the ball on its own 17 following a fine open field tackle by Ed Wentzel on the kickoff.
The Eagles, running out of a wishbone offense, gained one yard on two running attempts when halfback-turned‑quarterback Verdell Rice (remember his name) found tight end Mike McMullen on a 23‑yard gain. McMullen did a juggling act on his reception.
On the ensuing play, Steve Martin gained eight yards then Rice, who would gain 206 yards on 19 carries, turned a quarterback keeper into a 53‑yard touchdown ran down the left sidelines. Kelly Clark added the first of two extra‑point conversions.
Massillon was forced to punt on its next set of downs, Hower taking over at the Tiger 45. Seven plays later, the Eagles lined up for a 42‑yard field goal by Clark with 40 seconds left. Clark never got a chance, as the visitors tried a bit of trickery with the holder throwing an incomplete pass.
After an entertaining halftime show by the Tiger Swing Band, the Eagles took the second‑half kickoff and found themselves faced with a fourth and one at their own 40.
Confident they could get the necessary yard, Rice promptly ran the bootleg 60 yards down the right sideline to paydirt. Clark added the point after, and Central‑Hower led 14‑12 with less than three minutes elapsed in the third quarter.
Once again both teams exchanged punts, and on Massillon’s second possession of the half the Tigers took over on their own 45.
Crenshaw, who rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries, picked up 30 yards to the Eagle 25. Two more runs pushed the ball to the 18 where Massillon was faced with a third and three, but the Tigers were guilty of illegal procedure.
Faced with a third and eight now, a Siegenthaler pass was incomplete. On fourth down, Norris tried a 40‑yard field goal that fell way short of the intended mark.
But, the Tigers were given new life when a Central‑Hower punt on the following set of downs traveled just 13 yards, putting Massillon on the Eagle 38.
Crenshaw ran twice for 10 yards and a first down. Newman picked up seven more to the 21. Crenshaw’s number was called again, and the braising runner‑blocker picked up six yards when he fumbled the ball away, Central‑Hower’s three‑year starter Raheem Reid pouncing on the loose pigskin.
Again the Tiger defense held its ground, forcing another weak Central‑Hower punt. With 8:58 remaining in the final quarter, Massillon had the ball at the Eagle 43.
Three straight runs put the Tigers into a fourth‑and‑one situation where Crenshaw was knocked off his feet at the line of scrimmage by Reid.
Seemingly inspired by the linebacker’s alert defensive play, Rice shook off three tacklers on the ensuing down and scampered 66 yards to the end zone. Clark’s kick was wide right, but the Eagle, owned a 20‑12 advantage.
Then the excitement began.
With Siegenthaler taking to the air, the Tigers moved from their own 20 to a first down at the Central-Hower 28 in seven plays, aided by a 15‑yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the Eagles.
On first down, Siegenthaler launched an apparent TD pass to Newman. But the junior couldn’t find the handle on the throw as he crossed the goal‑line. Siegenthaler was then intercepted by Greg Chatman on the next play.
The Tiger defense again held Hower to three runs and a punt, with the offense getting the ball back at the Massillon 30. Enter Mike Scott as the quarterback.
Scott, who had been banged up with a back injury, hit Spicer on three straight pass, for 11, 10 and nine yards. He the, found Cornell Jackson downfield on 35‑yard pass play to the Eagle four where Newman went over left tackle two plays later for a touchdown.
Just 1:18 was left and the Tigers had to go for two points and the tie. Scott took the snap and pitched to Jackson, who in turn tried to hit Siegenthaler. But Jackson was swarmed under and his pass fell harmlessly to the ground.
The Tigers attempted a halfback pass earlier in the game. That time the pass was intercepted by Hower’s Willie Jennings in the first quarter.
Rice may have gained 206 yards, but three of his runs totaled 178 yards and three touchdowns.
First downs rushing 12 8
First downs passing 7 1
First downs by penalty 2 0
Total first downs 21 9
Yards gained rushing 294 309
Yards lost rushing 17 18
Net yards rushing 277 291
Net yards passing 127 23
Total yards gained 404 314
Passes attempted 18 7
Passes completed 13 1
Passes int. by 2 0
Times kicked off 4 4
Kickoff average 48.3 58.8
Kickoff return yards 20 42
Punts 2 5
Punting average 32.0 31.6
Punt return yards 28 0
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 1 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 7 6
Yards penalized 75 76
Touchdowns rushing 3 3
Touchdowns passing 0 0
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 63 50
Time of possession 21:40 26 20
CENTRAL‑HOWER 0 7 7 6 20
MASSILLON 6 6 0 6 18
M ‑ Derrick Newman 11 run (kick failed)
M ‑Wes Siegenthaler 8 run (kick failed)
C ‑ Verdell Rice 53 run (Kelly Clark kick)
C ‑ Rice 59 run (Clark kick)
C ‑ Rice 66 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Newman 1 ran (pass failed)