Tigers’ explosion not enough
By CHRIS EASTERLING
The numbers were mind-numbing Friday night: 66 points, 668 yards of offense, 463 rushing yards, two 160-yard rushers and nine touchdowns.
And then halftime arrived in Massillon’s game against Mentor at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
By the time the smoke finally cleared, some three-and-a-half hours after it all began, the last big play was made by the Cardinals, who scored on an 8-yard Bart Tanski-to-Steve Orkis pass with 24 seconds left in a 56-52 Massillon setback.
“The fans got their money’s worth,” said a dejected Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team is now 2-3 headed to next Saturday’s game at St. Ignatius in Parma. “That was a heck of a high school football game, that’s for sure. Their offense is just a juggernaut. … We knew they were good, we just didn’t have a whole lot of answers for them.”
Massillon took the lead – the eighth lead change of the game – with 1:52 remaining when fullback Steve Yoder crashed through the line for a 21-yard touchdown. Steve Schott’s extra point made it 52-49.
But Tanski was an efficient 7-of-7 for 71 yards on the winning drive. The only running play on it was an 8-yard scramble by the Mentor quarterback.
“You have to score when you can,” Stacy said. “You have to punch it in when you can.”
After scoring just 30 points in its last three games combined, Massillon came out with a different look to the offense, lining up in the power-I with Torrence at tailback and K.J. Herring at a halfback next to the fullback. With both Torrence and Herring in the game at the same time, they were able play off of each other with big-time results for the Tigers.
Torrence finished the game with 283 yards and four touchdowns – 168 of those yards and two of those scores in the first half. His 200-yard effort was matched by Mentor’s Tom Worden, who ran for 226 yards – 176 in the first half – and three scores on the night.
Herring added 109 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run which gave Massillon a 10-7 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
“We wanted to get K.J. more involved in the game,” Stacy said. “We felt we needed another weapon in there to help take some of the pressure off of DeVoe.”
The problem was, the scoring wouldn’t end at that point. In fact, there were still 49 points and three lead changes to go – just in the first half.
The first defensive stop didn’t occur until just over a minute was left in the first quarter, and even then points were scored. Massillon would punt the ball away to Mentor, only to have Dorie Irvin strip the Cardinal return man, while J.B. Price swooped in to recover the fumble and return it 35 yards for a touchdown. Schott’s extra-point kick made it 17-14 Tigers with 1:09 left in the quarter.
Massillon’s biggest pain was Tanski. With the precision of a skilled surgeon, the senior calmly led the Cardinals down the field on drive after drive.
Tanski was 7-of-13 for 69 yards in the second quarter, with a pair of touchdown strikes to Orkis. He added a 15-yard touchdown run, a run which gave Mentor a 35-24 lead with 2:00 left until the band show.
Tanski finished 25-of-38 for 299 yards and three scores. He also ran for 56 yards.
The Tigers, not to be outdone, managed to change the scoreboard one final time before the half, with Torrence scoring from a yard out with 27 seconds left to slice it to 35-31 after the PAT.
The two teams would each score once in the third quarter – Worden scoring from 2-yards out with 8:48 left in the stanza, and Torrence from 9-yards out with 20 seconds left – keeping the Mentor lead at four, 42-38.
Torrence gave Massillon its first lead since the second quarter on a 24-yard run with 7:25 left – 45-42 after the PAT. But Tanski’s second scoring run, a 2-yarder, put Mentor in front 49-45 with 4:01 remaining.
A 40-yard kickoff return by Justin Turner, with an added 15 yards on a Mentor penalty, put the ball at the Cardinal 34. Massillon then was added by a key offside penalty against Mentor on a fourth-and-4 play at its own 28, extending the drive. Two plays later, Yoder scored to give the Tigers – momentarily – their final lead.