Little Giants give Massillon a big scare
Tigers remain undefeated with 20‑14 win

By MIKE KEATING
Independent Sports Writer

For the second time in their last three games, the Massillon Tigers were living on the edge at halftime. Playing before an inspired Fremont Ross team, the Tigers dug themselves a 14‑point hole in the first quarter. But just like they proved against Youngstown Chaney on October 1, the Tigers kept their poise and wore down the host Little Giants, rallying for a 20‑14 victory before an estimated crowd of 6000 at Harmon Stadium Friday night.

“We played against the Fremont Ross team we expected to see when we scheduled them,” Massillon coach Rick Shepas said. “They’re a good, solid athletic team with a great offensive mix.”

With the victory, the Tigers improved to 8‑0. None of their last three wins were decided until the second half. In those games against Chaney, Perry and Ross, the Tigers outscored their opponents by a combined 59‑7 over the last two quarters.

“We’re a second‑half team,” Shepas said. “We’ve been to able to keep our poise.”

The Tigers also tightened their belts defensively in the last three quarters. Operating out of a double wing formation that resembled former Massillon coach Mike Currence’s run‑and‑shoot offense.

Ross amassed 144 yards of total offense on its first two possessions. But in their last eight series, the Little Giants only picked up 170 yards.

“We got caught over‑pursuing the first two times they had the ball,” Massillon defensive tackle Ellery Moore said. “We didn’t change our (scheme), we just stayed at home and made the plays.”

As the game progressed, the Massillon offense managed to control the football with its running game. With tailback Jessie Scott leading the way, the Tigers exploded for 251 rushing yards, including 148 in the second half.

“We normally use the pass to set up the run,” said Scott, who finished with a game‑high 154 yards on the ground ‑ 92 in the second half. “But our coaches saw some things they did on defense that helped us with our running game. Our coaches told us at halftime that the linebackers were sitting back for the pass, and their defensive ends were rushing and that set up the sweep.”

Ross, which slipped to 3‑5, held a narrow 14‑12 lead entering the fourth quarter. But the momentum of the game changed on the first play when Ross attempted a pass out of a field goal formation from, the Massillon 15, and the Tigers broke it up in the end zone.

On its next possession, Massillon pounded the ball at Ross, marching 85 yards in 10 plays. With Scott‑breaking contain on off tackle plays and getting to, the outside, he played a major factor in the drive, picking up 50 yards on four carries. But Massillon didn’t entirely forget the pass on that drive.

Quarterback Dave Irwin hit Rocky Dorsey for 12 yards, advancing the ball to the Ross S. Two plays later, Irwin found uncovered tight end Jeremiah Drobney in the middle of the end zone and the five‑yard pass play gave the Tigers the lead for good with 9:04 left in regulation.

Irwin hit Scott for the two point conversion to complete the scoring.

Ross had two final chances to pull out a victory, but it went three‑and‑out on each possession.

While Massillon controlled the final three quarters, it was all Ross in the opening quarter. With elusive quarterback David Rhodes directing a balanced offensive attack, Ross stunned Massillon with two long scoring drives on its first two possessions.

Rhodes, a 6‑foot, 180‑pound junior, engineered a 60‑yard march on his team’s first possession. Fullback Aaron Hines capped the 10‑play drive with a five‑yard plunge at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter.

On their second possession, Rhodes marched the Little Giants 84 yards. The eight‑play drive was capped by a 15‑yard pass from Rhodes to 6‑4 wide receiver David Root, who made a diving catch in the middle of the end zone.

Brian McCord kicked the extra point, and Ross led 14‑0 with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Tigers answered quickly, moving 47 yards in four plays. Scott covered the final eight yards of the drive by cutting off left tackle and into the end zone at the 11:49 mark of the second quarter making it a 14‑6 game.

Massillon closed to 14‑12 when tailback Perry James scored on a one‑yard touchdown plunge with 1:08 left in the first half. The drive covered 90 yards in 10 plays.

Massillon missed both of its attempts for two‑point conversions, setting the stage for another second‑half comeback.

NOTE ‑ The Massillon defense played a good portion of the game without defensive back Jason Jarvis, who was on crutches at the end of the game. Shepas said the 6‑1, 189‑pound senior suffered an ankle injury, but was unsure of its severity.

MASSILLON 20
FREMONT ROSS 14

M F

First downs rushing 13….. 7
Fi st downs passing 6…… 7
First downs by penalty 0…… 0
TOTAL first downs 19…. 14
Net yards rushing 251.. 169
Net yards passing 137.. 145
TOTAL yards 388.. 314
Passes attempted 20…. 17
Passes completed 11….. 7
Passes intercepted 2 0
Punts 4…… 5
Punting average 35.5.. 37
Fumbles/Lost 1/0.. 0/0
Penalties 11….. 4
Yards penalized 95…. 19

MASSILLON 00 12 00 08 20
FREMONT 14 00 00 00 14

SCORING

F ‑ Heins 5 run (McCord kick)
F ‑ Root, 15 pass from Rhodes (McCord kick)
M ‑ Scott 8 run (Run failed)
M ‑ James 1 run (Run failed)
M ‑ Drobney 5 pass from Irwin (Scott pass f


Dan Studer