Tigers shake off Buchtel
Massillon overcomes four turnovers to end two‑game losing skid
By CHRIS EASTERLING
It was anything but an Instant Classic, but when you’re trying to fight your way into the playoffs, anything will work.
Certainly, the Massillon Tigers aren’t about to give back the 27‑12 victory they secured over the Buchtel Griffins on Friday night in front of 7,728 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I’ll tell you what, when you’re playing our schedule, you’ll take them anyway you can get them,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “I thought our kids really played hard. Obviously, the turnovers kept it from being a lopsided game, and our inability to score in the red zone again. We have to continue to work on that. But I thought our kids played hard.”
The win snaps a two‑game-losing streak for Massillon, which is now 4‑3 heading into next Satur day’s road test at Warren Harding. It is also the Tigers’ first win against an Ohio team this season.
But it didn’t come easy, as Massillon turned the ball over four times ‑ three on fumbles. The Tigers also were just 2‑of‑5 in red‑zone scoring chances.
“It feels good, but we’re looking to next week now,” said Tiger senior Brian Gamble, who rushed for a game high 135 yards while also catching a touchdown pass and intercepting a pass. “It’s over with.”
The first half set the tone for the whole game, as both teams struggled with .turnovers ‑ the Tigers had ,.three while Buchtel turned it over once ‑ and missed chances.
Still, the Tigers were able to muster the biggest offensive play of the half when Bobby Huth hit Giorgio Jackson for 62‑yard touchdown with 3:42 left in the first quarter to put Massillon ahead 10‑6 after Steve Schott’s extra point. Jackson caught the pass at about the Buchtel 40, side‑stepped a defender or two, then outran the rest into the end zone for the score only offensive touchdown of the half.
Jackson had 135 yards on eight catches. Many of those were simple out patterns in which he was able to turn it up field and get yards after the catch.
“I love getting the ball to Giorgio,” said Huth, who threw for a season‑high 261 yards. “I can throw that five‑yard out, and he can turn it up for 20 yards. He’ll break a couple of tackles.”
The only other touchdown before the intermission gave Buchtel a 6‑0 lead just 2:17 into the game. On the first play of the Tigers’ second possession, the ball squirted free and was picked up by the Griffins’ Johnny Adams, who simply outran everybody to the end zone for the score. The extra point was missed, keeping it at 6‑0 Buchtel.
The Tigers would hold onto the football on their next drive, which consumed 4:07 off the clock and moved them from their own 33 to inside the Griffin 1. However, while Massillon was lining up to try to punch it in on fourth down, it was flagged for a false start, moving it back past the Buchtel 5. Schott was called to boot the 23‑yard field goal, which he did to cut it to 6‑3 Buchtel with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
With the Tigers up 10‑6, Massillon’s Mike Sampson would force a Buchtel fumble with less than eight minutes remaining in the half, and his teammate Steve Yoder would fall on it at the Griffin 38. The Tigers would pickup 13 yards on the drive to the Griffin 25, but stalled again. Schott padded the Massillon lead by hitting a 42‑yard field goal for a 13‑6 edge with 6:02 left until the band show.
The Tigers would get two more possessions in the half, both of them reaching Griffin territory. But both would result in turnovers, once on a fumble at the Buchtel 40 and the other an interception at the Griffin 5.
“I think it’s a matter of some of them, we were forcing the play,” Stacy said. “Instead of throwing it away and going to the next down, we’re trying to force the ball in there and trying to make something out of nothing. You can’t do that, especially in the red zone. You can’t take points off the board.”
Buchtel would reach Massillon’s 30 on its next‑to‑last possession of the half ‑ the only time in the first half it ran more than one offensive play in Tiger territory ‑ but turned the ball over on downs.
“I think our defense just played hard,” said Tiger linebacker Cody Colly. “I think that’s what it was. We just knew we had to get the job done because there was a lot on the line. We just played our hearts out and that’s what got it done.”
Things would change on Massillon’s first drive of ‑the second half , which started at the Buchtel 40 following a punt. On the fourth play, Huth hit a wide‑open Gamble down the right sidelines, and Gamble ran into the end zone for the touchdown. Schott’s PAT made it 20‑6 Tigers with 9:29 left in the third quarter.
Gamble would give the Tigers good field possession for their second drive when he came up with an interception at the Griffin 49. Four plays later, Huth hit tight end Josh Cross just inside the front right pylon for a 15‑yard touchdown and 27‑6 Tiger lead after the PAT with 7:28 left in the third.
Adams tacked on an offensive touchdown when he caught a 15‑yard scoring pass from Glen Campbell on a fourth‑and‑5 play. The score cut it to 27‑12 with 2:55 left in the third after the PAT kick failed.
Buchtel would get the ball right back at the Tiger 48 after a fumble following a reception. But the Griffins fumbled it right back five plays later at the Tiger 36, a drive which would end in a missed field goal.
“We fought hard,” said Buchtel coach Claude Brown, whose team falls to 3‑4. “We made a couple of mistakes there. We’ve got to catch the ball, we have to hold our blocks and we have to make plays.”
Buchtel 6 0 6 0 12
Massillon 10 3 14 0 27
B ‑ Johnny Adams 28 fumble return (Kick failed)
M ‑ Steve Schott 23 FG
M ‑ Giorgio Jackson 62 pass from Bobby Huth (Schott kick)
M ‑ Schott 42 FG
M ‑ Brian Gamble 30 pass from Huth (Schott kick)
M ‑ Josh Cross 15 pass from Huth (Schott kick)
B ‑ Adams 15 pass from Glen Campbell (Kick failed)
Massillon rushing: Gamble 27‑135; Tommy Leonard 5‑31; Andrew Dailey 1‑0.
Buchtel rushing: Kameron Alexander 12‑58; Ernest Pitts 15‑43; Norman Wolfe 1‑10; Adams 2‑6.
Massillon passing: Huth 16‑25‑261 3 TDs, INT.
Buchtel passing: Campbell 6‑21‑46 TD, INT.; Pitts 1‑1‑25.
Massillon receiving: Jackson 8‑135 TD; Cross 2‑43 TD; Gamble 2‑37 TD; Bryan Sheegog 2‑23.
Buchtel receiving: Adams 2‑25; Ronald Peake 2‑12; Pitts 2‑9; Ken Henderson 1‑25.