No masterpiece Win not pretty, but Tigers down Central-Hower 17-7
By STEVE DOERSCHUK
Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON ‑ You want masterpieces? See you at the art institute.
You want wins? Meet you at Tiger Stadium.
The Massillon Tigers, playing like angry bulls but missing the matador fairly often, ran their record to 3‑1 Friday night by outlasting Akron Central‑Hower 17‑7 before 9,200 in P.B.’, Big House.
“It may not have been pretty,” John Maronto said. “But it was a win.”
Right on, coach.
The Tigers haven’t been especially pretty in any of their wins; yet, they’ve survived the early part of the season with hopes of getting better and making the playoffs.
The offense had its moments Friday but came away up feeling like a lotto player who keeps picking two out of three.
The Tigers continued their season-long syndrome of getting to the end zone without getting in. It was the factor that put Central‑Hower in position to repeat its dirty deed of 1984, when it came into the game with an 0‑2 record but knocked off the Tigers 20‑18.
In the first half, the Tigers had drives on which they pushed the ball to the 20‑ and 3‑yard lines without scoring.
They settled for a 10‑0 halftime lead.
Then the Eagles made things unsettling.
A 20‑yard touchdown pass from Eric Hill to Humphrey Hopson and a PAT kick made it 10‑7 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
Then, when the Tigers fumbled at midfield on their subsequent possession some bad dream deja vu crept in.
Central‑Hower was in position to come from behind for a win, as Akron Garfield had two Fridays earlier against the Tigers.
The Eagles punched the ball to the 11 on a 12‑yard run by sophomore Dwight Twitty.
On third and 10, a pass bounced off Hopson’s chest in the end zone. David Jones lined up for a 27‑yard chip shot that would tie the game. He hooked it wide left.
The Tigers played inspired defense after that and were never threatened again.
This time Central-Hower left town with an 0‑3 record.
“We kept our poise,” Maronto said. “We’ve been in situations this season when we didn’t score and it looked like the team was disappointed. That didn’t happen tonight.When it counted, we jelled.
“(Linebackers) Todd Perdue and Jerrod Vance were really tough down there. And the leadership of the captains, Wes Siegenthaler, Duane Crenshaw and Mark Harder was evident.”
Siegenthaler said the Tigers lost none of their fight when Central‑Hower was driving for a go-ahead score.
“All we were thinking about was stuffing ’em,” Siegenthaler said “The defense really came together tonight.”
“We never gave up,” added senior Ettore Scassa, who played a good game at nose guard. “I don’t think we ever will.”
It was pointed out to Central-Hower head coach Mike Kossuth that the Tigers might come in far criticism over having a tough time whipping an 0‑2 team.
“I don’t put any validity in that.” Kossuth said, “They’re a veteran team and we’re a young team. But we’re a good team. We just do the thing young teams do … make mistakes.
“Give Massillon credit. They’re a very, very aggressive team. They have a chance to be right up there with the state powers.”
The Tigers were on the verge of putting together that one strong game against a decent opponent. They dominated the first half, out-gaining the Eagles 152 yards to 69.
Mike Norris, getting his first start at tailback, was a horse, breaking loose for 76 yards in five carries.
The Tigers slipped in the second half, when they were out-gained 69 yards to 50. Norris slowed down, getting six more carries but only five more yards.
The Tigers had to be content escaping with the win.
Now they face a Saturday night test against Barberton (4‑0 after a 26‑18 win over Akron Firestone) in the Rubber Bowl.
“The road trip will be good for us.” Maronto, whose four games as the Tigers head coach have been at home. “Barberton has a very highly rated quarterback. Any team that’s unbeaten at this point of the season has to be doing something right.
“As for us, we’re building a foundation. All we have to do is rise from there.”
The Tigers came out like Larry Holmes in his prime. They began with the ball on their own 38 after taking the kickoff and Norris immediately went 15 yards over the left side.
On the next play, Paul Fabianich tossed a bomb to the right sidelines which Siegenthaler turned into a pretty, diving 35-yard reception at the 12.
But the Tigers stalled there, and on fourth and three from the five, Maronto opted to go for three. Todd Manion, seeing his first action at place-kicker after recovering from a baseball injury, drilled a 21-yarder, and it was 3-0 at 9:32 of the first quarter.
Matt Swank’s hit and Hoagy Pfisterer’s fumble recovery gave the Tigers the ball on Central-Hower’s 31 moments later. But they stalled at the 20 and Manion was wide right on a 37-yard field goal try.
The Eagles went one-two-three-punt, and the punt traveled only four yards, setting up the Tigers at the Eagles’ 29. The Tigers drove to the 2, where it was third and goal. On the next play, fullback Derick Newman lost the ball on the exchange, and Central-Hower’s Willie Jennings recovered on the 1.
The Eagles punched it out to the 21 before having to punt. The Tigers got good field position again when Bart Letcavits returned the boot 15 yards to the Eagles’ 36.
On fourth‑and-one from the 26, Newman bulled for the first down to the 25. On the next play, Norris got some earth‑mover blocks up the middle, made three crowd‑pleasing jukes in the open field and raced toward the left corner of the end zone, where he landed on the dive for a score.
Manion’s PAT kick made it 10-0 Tigers at 6:21 of the second quarter. That was the halftime score.
Early in the third quarter, Central-Hower linebacker Willie Johnson recovered a Norris fumble at the Tiger 25. On third‑and‑five, Hill dropped back in shotgun formation and popped a quick to Hopson, who streaked into the end zone untouched and then danced half way to Navarre.
Jones’ kick made it 10-7.
The Tigers took over after the ensuing kickoff with great field position as Jerome Myricks’ returned to the 43. But Fabianich lost the handle on the snap three plays later, and the Eagles got the ball back.
After the missed field goal attempt, the Tiger, stalled.
Ken Hawkins’ punt bounced in front of Steve Gray, who tried to field it on the bounce but fumbled it away to the Tigers’ Ron Patt at the Central‑Hower 21.
The Tigers ran out of downs at the 6.
Moments later, Lance Hostetler put a heavy rush on Hill, forcing a misfired pass that was tipped to Pfisterer.
The intercept gave the Tigers possession on the 21 and set up Newman’s five-yard TD smash. Manion’s kick gave the Tigers their 17-7 bulge at 1:46 of the fourth quarter, and the game was history.
No, it wasn’t a masterpiece.
Maybe the Tigers are saving one of those for the Barberton Magics.
First downs rushing 9 5
First downs passing 1 2
First downs by penalty 0 0
Totals first downs 10 7
Yards gained rushing 165 126
Yards lost rushing 13 16
Net yards rushing 152 110
Net yards passing 50 28
Total yards gained 202 138
Passes attempted 9 10
Passes completed 2 4
Passes int. by 0 2
Times kicked off 3 3
Kickoff average 52.0 48.0
Kickoff return yards 75 31
Punts 3 5
Punting average 38.7 30.4
Punt return yards 25 1
Punts blocked by 0 0
Fumbles 4 5
Fumbles lost 3 2
Penalties 4 4
Yards penalized 50 40
Touchdowns rushing 2 0
Touchdowns passing 0 1
Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0
Number of plays 51 40
Time of possession 22:54 25:06
CENTRAL‑HOWER 0 0 7 0 7
MASSILLON 3 7 0 7 17