Buchtel tames Tigers by taking advantage of turnovers
By CHRIS EASTERLING
MASSILLON, OH – The excitement was reaching a crescendo at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Thursday night. The long-awaited 2010 football season for the Massillon Tigers had finally arrived.
And it took the Buchtel Griffins all of 14 seconds to suck the air out of the crowd.
The Griffins took the opening kickoff in for a touchdown, silencing most of the orange-clad fans in attendance at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers would never entirely recover from that blow, as they were left shocked by the reigning Akron City Series champions, 29-13.
As staggering as Ernie Calhoun Jr.’s 90-yard return on the opening kick was, it was not nearly as shocking as the choppy performance by the Tigers’ offense.
While Massillon finished with a 295-235 edge in total yards, it struggled to get anything going consistently. The Tigers gave the ball up seven times, including six interceptions.
“We were inconsistent,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “Turnovers. At the end of the day, what did we end up with turnover-wise? You can’t win a game that way. We have to do better with play-calling. We have to work in practice to get our kids executing better. At the end of the day, that’s our job, to put our kids in a position to win.”
On Massillon’s second offensive play, an overthrown pass ended up in the hands of Buchtel’s Alex Arrington for an interception. On the Tigers’ third possession, Calhoun added to his evening by coming up with the Griffin defense’s second pick of the game.
Buchtel, meanwhile, was having its share of success moving the ball in the opening quarter, even if it was unable to punch it in the end zone. The Griffins had a 79-16 edge in first-quarter rushing yards, and a 93-19 advantage in total yards in the first 12 minutes of play.
But the Griffins didn’t have an offensive touchdown to show for it, in part because Massillon’s Tyler Miller came up with an interception in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter to thwart Buchtel’s best drive of the half.
That pick would lead to the first Massillon points of the season, as Alex Winters capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge at the 7:56 mark of the second quarter. The point-after try bounced off the right upright, keeping the score tied at 6-6.
Brody Tonn shook off a rough first quarter to hit Devin Smith on passes of 12 and 42 yards on the drive. He hit Justin Olack on a 4-yard touchdown pass on the next possession – gained after a Buchtel fumble – that gave Massillon a 13-6 lead after the PAT.
Tonn finished 16-of-35 for 211 yards. He threw the one touchdown, but also had all six interceptions.
“I don’t think you can sit here and put this game on Brody’s shoulders,” Hall said. “That’s not the case. He’s a sophomore. We have tons of seniors on this team and coaches. At the end of the day, you win and lose as a team.”
The second half seemed to start out well enough for the Tigers, who recovered an onside kick at the Griffin 48. But they turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the half – two interceptions and a fumble on fourth down.
The third turnover helped Buchtel take the lead when Tyler Jones hit Elijah Bell for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Marlon Oden then took the two-point conversion run in, giving the Griffins a 14-13 lead with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
Buchtel had a chance to add to its lead early in the fourth quarter, but Garrett Kreiger came up with an interception as he was falling to the turf.
Massillon gave the ball right back with its fifth interception of the night – which was brought back for a touchdown by Oden, only to be nullified by a personal foul penalty against Buchtel behind the play.
With 3:21 left, Jones would twist the knife into the Tigers’ hearts with a 37-yard score for a 21-13 lead after the PAT. Then Oden sealed the game with a pick-6 of his own with 3:06 left for a 29-13 lead.
“It’s hard handling adversity,” Hall said. “It’s the hardest thing in life, to handle tough times. That’s part of the reason we’re here. We’re trying to mold young men and teach them how to handle those situations.”
Buchtel 29, Massillon 13
At Paul Brown Tiger Stadium
Buchtel 6 0 8 15 29
Massillon 0 13 0 0 13
B – Calhoun 90 kickoff return (Kick failed)
M – Winters 1 run (Kick failed)
M – Olack 4 pass from Tonn (McCarthy kick)
B – Bell 12 pass from Jones (Oden run)
B – Jones 37 run (Brewer kick)
B – Oden 11 interception return (Jones run)
First downs 16 12
Rushes-yards 36-84 38-212
Passing yards 211 23
Comp.-Att.-Int. 16-35-6 4-14-3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-54 7-65
Records 0-1 1-0