Clutch plays decided this one

Independent Sports Editor

For the first nine weeks of the 1993 high school football season, the Massillon Tigers made the big plays, evidenced by a 47 points per game average, a 9‑0 record and a number four statewide ranking.

But things went the other way at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, as the McKinley Bulldogs parlayed big plays into a 21‑13 upset of the Tigers.

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Making many of the big plays for McKinley was one of their smaller players, 5‑9, 140‑pound senior quarterback Josh McDaniels.

With the game at tied at 7‑7, and less than three minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs took over at their 34 yard line. On third‑and‑5, McDaniels kept the ball on an option, picking his way for 15 yards and a key first down.

On the very next snap McDa­niels rolled right and hit Jaivon­ne Richards along the right sideline for 18 yards to the Tiger 28, and the Pups were in range.

McDaniels found Tom Hast­ings for seven more to the 21. But it appeared the Tigers Chris Porrini had come up with the stopper, when he smelled out a middle screen to Kinta Mitchell for a three‑yard loss.

McDaniels barely overthrew Hastings along the left side on a perfectly run fade pattern, setting up fourth-and‑6 at the Tiger 24. It also set up what may have been the play of the game.

On the next snap, McDaniels and Hastings connected on a short curl in the left flats, and Hastings pitched the ball back to Denell Harris, who scooted to the Tiger five where Lonnie Simpson made a touchdown ­saving stop.

With a minute to go until the half, McDaniels rolled right but couldn’t find an open receiver. So the coach’s son tucked the ball and took off, finding paydirt, and giving the Pups a 14‑7 lead at half.

McKinley opened the after­noon scoring on its first posses­sion. Tailback Che Bryant car­ried the ball on the first three plays ‑ including a 27‑yard burst ‑ as the Bulldogs moved from their own 20 to Massil­lon’s 47. The Pups kept the foot­ball on the ground with Mitchell and Harris on the next two plays, moving it to the Tiger 27. Then Bryant found a gaping hole over left tackle. Defensive back Tim Menches made one of many fine stops at the 19.

Bryant then gained 10 more yards over right tackle on the next snap, making it first‑and-­goal at the eight. Three plays later, McKinley faced a deci­sion. It was fourth‑and‑goal at the three.

In came McDaniels, who didn’t start at quarterback. He lined up in field goal formation, but shifted to a conventional set at the last moment. He handed the ball to Harris, who went over left tackle for a TD. McDa­niels’ PAT made it 7‑0 with 6:50 to play in the first quarter.

The drive covered 80 yards in 11 plays.

Massillon came right back on its initial possession of the con­test. It looked like three downs and out, but a roughing‑the-­kicker call on McKinley, giving the Tigers new life on their 46. On the next play, a late‑hit‑penalty moved the ball to the 39.

Tiger fullback Mike Paul car­ried twice for 14 yards to the 25, then Mike Danzy ran around right end for 10 more. On third‑and‑6 from the 11, Paul carried on a draw play, cut off a fine block by Brock Her­ring, and picked up a first down at the four. Three plays later, Paul scored from the one to make it 7‑7 with 11:57 left in the first half.

The Tigers came out for the third quarter, and looked like they were ready to erase a 14‑7 lead, driving from their 36 to McKinley’s 16, as Dixon and Danzy took turns making plays.

Dixon picked up 13 on a coun­ter around left end to give the locals a first down near midfield, then ran another counter over right guard to the 33. Two plays later, he hit Merchant to the 21.

Danzy then found tight end Isaiah Jackson to set up first‑and‑goal at the six. But the Bull­dog defense stiffened and Mas­sillon turned the ball over on an in­terception by Richards in the end zone.

The Massillon defense stop­ped McKinley on the next pos­session. But the Tigers fum­bled, giving the Bulldogs back the ball at the Tiger 35. Eight plays later, Mitchell found the end zone from three yards out to make it 21‑7, 37 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But the Tigers came, back, getting a big play of its own on the next possession, as Danzy hit Jackson on the right sideline for 44‑yeard gainer to the McKinley 28. Two plays later, Danzy hit Merchant for a short pass on the left side. Merchant slipped two tackles, and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone, making it 21‑13.

Harris tipped away a conver­sion pass, intended for Jackson.

McKinley was forced to punt on its next possession. But the Tigers couldn’t do anything, giving it back to the hosts with 3:59 to play. McKinley ran out the clock without giving the Ti­gers the ball back.

The Bulldogs averaged 6.7 yards on first down plays, com­pared to under three yards for the Tigers.

M Mc
First downs rushing 8 10
First downs passing 4 2
First downs penalty 2 1
Total first downs 14 13
Net yards rushing 108 240
Net yards passing 101 44
Total yards gained 209 284
Passes attempted 15 10
Passes completed 5 6
Passes int. by 2 0
Times kicked off 3 4
Kickoff average 54 31.3
Kickoff return yards 10 28
Punts 2 3
Punting average 34 31
Punt return yards 6 0
Fumbles 2 1
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 4 7
Yards penalized 40 55
Number of plays 48 50
Time of possession 24:43 23:17

MCKINLEY 7 7 0 7‑21
MASSILLON 0 7 0 6‑13

McK. ‑ Harris 3 yard run (McDanielS kick)
Mass. ‑ Paul 1 yard run (Endsley kick)
McK. ‑ McDaniels 5 yard run (McDaniels kick)
McK. ‑ Mitchell 3 yard run (McDaniels kick)
Mass. ‑ Merchant 28 yard pass from Danzy (pass failed)

Individual statistics

Dixon 10‑38,
Paul 11­-28,
Danzy 5‑24,
Herring 2‑7,
Laughin 2‑5,
Spencer 2‑4,
Ashcraft 1‑2;
Harris 15‑101,
Bryant 8‑77,
Mitchell 8‑26,
Burns 4‑18,
McDaniels 4‑15,
Pukansky 1‑3.

Danzy 5‑15‑101‑2, 1 TD;
McDaniels 5‑8‑38‑0 0 TDs,
Pukansky 1‑2‑6‑0, 0 TDS.

Jackson 3‑65,
Mer­chant 2‑36;
Alkire 2‑3,
Richards 1­-18,
Harris 1‑16,
Hasting 1‑10,
Mitchell 1‑3.

This one is more than
just a game

Independent Sports Writer

For many of the Massillon fans at Fawcett Stadium Saturday afternoon, the McKinley game is the culmination of an entire season.

For others, it’s the one game they live for while growing up in Tigertown.

Some are former players or booster club members. Some are only part‑time fans. Others are just your everyday Massillon Tiger fanatics.

They all had something in common. They were pulling for the Tigers to come out on top.

The game is the pinnacle of the season for both teams.

The Bulldogs did their best to take the Tiger faithful out of the game early, surging to a 14‑7 halftime lead.

“I said I was worried about this game,” one fan decked out in orange and black said on his way to take his seat after a visit to the concession stand.

“McKinley’s better than most people give them credit for.”

Many fans spent part of the afternoon reliving the excitement leading up to “The Game.”

“Everything else ‑ the nine games before this, the practice before the sea­son ‑ is superficial, ” said Al Rogers Jr., who played for the Tigers in 1976.

“This is what playing Massillon Tiger football is all about. You throw all the records out. I remember when I was a junior we played McKinley and we were 5‑3‑1 coming in and they were 9‑0. We beat them and knocked them out of the playoffs.

“That’s what makes this game so spe­cial. The tradition is what sets this game apart from any other game in the country.”

Tiger Booster Club president Rollie Layfield will always remember the 1993­-94 season. Win or lose, the Tigers, according to Layfield, had a great team.

“If we get into the playoffs, I think we’ll be respectable,” said Layfield who is only allowed to serve one term a president. “This has been a great season. This group of young men have come together as a team, and that’s what this game is all about.”

Rob Maylor, who played offensive line for the Tigers in 1981 and ’82, is a staunch Tiger fan. Maylor was one of the booster members forming the man‑made tunnel before the Tigers took the field.

He hasn’t lost any intensity since his playing days.

Maylor was slapping helmets am screaming encouragement to the Massillon players.

“As a player, this game is something you live for,” Maylor said. “When I see the players come out of the locker room and head for that hoop, I get goose bumps every week.

“This game is special, It’s the pinnacle of the season.

Mark Fair