By William R. Sanderson
Massillon wanted to establish a ground game at Findlay. It’s safe to say they did just that after Ramon Kelly ran all over the Trojans for a 36-16 Tiger victory at Donnell Stadium on Friday night.Kelly, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound senior, ran for 288 yards and two touchdowns on only 24 carries. Caleb White added 82 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries to help the Tigers improve to 2-2 on the season. Findlay drops to 0-4.
The success the Tigers had running the ball came in an odd-looking package – a tight, I-formation set. “In this case we were trying to build off the running game we had last week,” Massillon coach Rick Shepas said. “We are a similar offense to Findlay. We both line up in the spread. I know we like playing against other spread teams because we see it so much in practice. So, I wanted to see how the guys would respond when we packed it in.”The Tigers responded pretty well. They established a 9-0 lead in the first
half and then maintained the advantage in the second half.Kelly showcased tremendous speed on several carries. He would appear destined to be stopped behind the line but would simply outrun the defenders to the corner. “There is no question about it,” Shepas said, “Ramon has a great burst.” While he didn’t get the same gaudy numbers as Kelly, Shepas praised his other running back – Caleb White, a 5-11, 178-pound senior. “Both our backs really ran the ball hard,” Shepas said. “Ramon ran the ball hard and Caleb did too. He broke some tackles.”
On the other side of the ball the Tiger defense had Findlay under control for the majority of the contest.Findlay struggled to muster 53 yards in the first half and 120 yards for the game. Wide reciever Zach Kraus started at quarterback for Findlay after one quarterback had been benched and another was injured last week. That forced Findlay into a largely ground-oriented attack.Massillon’s ground game kicked into high gear from the very start of the game, but a couple of mistakes kept the halftime score from being any larger than 9-0 Tigers.On the opening possesion, Kelly and White took turns gouging yards. Massillon got as far as the Findlay 2 before a fumbled snap forced the Tigers to settle for a 24-yard Steve Schott field goal to make it 3-0 with 8:21 on the clock.Schott had another chance in the opening minute of the second quarter, but just missed a 47-yard opportunity wide right. The defense would share credit for Massillon’s next score when Alex Dahlquist intercepted a Findlay pass and gave the Tigers the ball on the Findlay 22. A few plays later White ran in for a two-yard touchdown. A bad snap cost Massillon the extra point and the score was 9-0 with 7:08 to go in the second quarter.Massillon came five yards away from adding to its lead at the end of the first half. With under a minute to go, Massillon advanced to the Findlay 5 when Findlay’s Andrew Leddy and Jason Inbody brought down Tiger quarterback Quentin Paulik for a big loss. A screen pass from Paulick to Kelly brought the ball back to the five and the Tigers spiked to ball to stop the clock with :14 left. On
fourth-and-four, the Trojan defenders held fast.
“We had some opportunities we didn’t take advantage of,” Shepas said of the first half. “Still our defense played fantastic and we had the advantage going in the second half.” That Massillon defense came up big again in the third quarter when Lorenzo Grizzard jumped on a fumbled pitch. A little while later Paulik threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Brett Huffman. The extra point was blocked to make the score 15-0 at the 7:57 mark of the third quarter.For a brief moment, Findlay looked like it might make the finish an exciting one when Greg Mills broke a return 95 yards for a score on the ensuing kickoff, but Massillon answered promptly with touchdown runs by White and Kelly to make the score 29-10 before the end of the third quarter.The Findlay offense finally had some measure of success in the fourth quarter with the matter essentially decided. Mills and Kraus both ran the ball to set up a 10-yard Andre Strzempka touchdown catch from Jeff Foltz. The kick made it 29-16 with 4:53 remaining.Kelly had one final score for good measure when he broke a 38-yard jaunt for a touchdown at the 2:38 mark. Schott’s kick made it 35-16.Massillon will go into next Saturday’s game with Washington D.C. Coolidge with a 2-2 record, not that Shepas places a whole lot of importance on the .500 mark. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We take it one game at a time.”