Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo

Another Rout
Tigers start fast before Going into cruise control

Chris Easterling
The Independent

MASSILLON The Massillon Tigers weren’t focusing so much on H.D. Woodson (D.C.) this week as they were focusing on themselves and making themselves better. Turns out, they gave just enough focus to the Warriors to come away with a win.

The Tigers scored on their first four offensive possession to remove all doubt early, then put it in cruise control from there in beating Woodson, 35-14, Friday night in front of 6,172 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Massillon came into the week with very little to go on with regards to its visitors from the nation’s capital — just a few clips off YouTube and some of last year’s films. Turns out, that was all the Tigers would need in running their record to 3-1 heading into next week’s home game against Firestone.

“It got kind of sloppy at times,” Tigers coach Jason Hall said afterward. “Sometimes, that can be expected when you don’t know much about people. The end of the game, we got a lot of young guys out there playing.”

By the time Woodson gained its first first down of the game — on the first play of the second quarter — Massillon already held a 28-0 lead. The Tigers also had a 203-8 edge in total yards at that point.

From there, it became a matter of Massillon trying to get through the final 36 minutes without sustaining any critical injuries while trying to maintain a measure of sharpness. The Tigers dipped into their second-unit defense to start the second half, while the reserve offense made its first appearance on the second possession of the third quarter.

“All in all, we came out pretty hot in the first quarter there,” Hall said. “We’re pleased.”

Massillon got the scoring started with 7:48 left in the first quarter when Alex Winters hauled in an over-the-shoulder, one-handed grab on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Kempt for a 7-0 lead. But the Tigers would add three more scores before the quarter was over, spreading the wealth to just about everybody in the offensive backfield.

Ryne Moore got into the act on the next Massillon possession, scoring from 8 yards out with 4:53 remaining in the quarter. Kentrell Taylor got his turn next just 41 seconds later on an 18-yard touchdown run for a 21-0 lead.
The final Tiger back to find the end zone before the first quarter ended was Eric Copeland, who provided the second Tiger touchdown catch of the game when he made a wide-open 2-yard catch with 15 seconds left in the quarter.

The Tigers took a 35-0 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to Gareon Conley’s 45-yard interception return for a score. It was one of two second-quarter interceptions for Conley, and part of a four-takeaway game for Massillon, which also recovered an onside kick in the first quarter.

Still, despite the lopsided score, there was plenty for Hall to critique his team about. And that started from the very first moment of the game when Massillon muffed a pooch kick to give Woodson the ball at the Tiger 34.
Massillon’s offense also found itself grinding its wheels after jumping out to the 28-0 lead.

After gaining 203 yards on 19 first-quarter plays, the Tigers netted minus-5 yards on just five second-quarter snaps.

The offense continued to have its share of struggles in the second half. Massillon finished the game with 226 total yards, but a net of 23 in the final three quarters.

“There was some sloppy stuff,” Hall said. “We had some negative plays. We had a mishap on the goal line on a run play. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t have to practice.”

Woodson’s offense, though, could not get any consistency going against Massillon’s defense, whether it was the Tiger first-stringers or their backups. The Warriors finished with 159 yards, 104 of those coming in the fourth quarter when they got on the scoreboard with a pair of touchdowns — one a run with 9:09 left and the other a punt return with 7:03 left.