Massillon cruises past Buchtel 52-21 in opener
Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2012
MASSILLON – It was expected the Massillon Tigers would be able to score some points this season. And they didn’t waste any time in showing just how easy they could change the scoreboard.
The Tigers turned an early Buchtel turnover into a touchdown, then rolled from there in routing the Griffins 52-21 in Thursday night’s season opener at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I thought we moved the ball real well at times,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said after his team opened 1-0. “We got sloppy a little bit at times. We put some of our young guys in and they played like young guys. … We’ll get back to work and keep coaching them up.”
The tone was set in the first half, as Massillon scored on four of its first five possessions to take a 28-6 halftime lead. The only one of the five drives that didn’t result in points still crossed the Griffin 25, but ended with a missed field goal.
Massillon came into the season boasting of a new spread offensive scheme that spread the ball around to a variety of different weapons. But the key to that offense was to be senior quarterback Kyle Kempt’s ability to get the ball to those weapons.
Kempt showed why many expect him to thrive in the offense. He connected on eight of his first nine passes – with the only incompletion caused by a devastating hit by a Buchtel defender – and went into halftime already sitting with a stat line of 12-of-16 for 243 yards and a touchdown.
Those 243 yards were just four yards shy of his best passing game of the 2011 season, set in Week Seven against Delaware’s Red Lion Christian. Kempt would finish with a career-high 316 yards while completing 17-of-23 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Kyle showed why he’s a Division I quarterback,” Hall said. “He threw it as well as you could ask him to. He was under pressure at times … he threw a couple of deep balls under pressure that a lot of kids can’t make. Kyle Kempt showed why he’s Kyle Kempt.”
Not only was he efficient, he was also willing to spread the wealth. Out his first eight completions, seven different receivers caught passes, and by halftime, eight receivers had catches.
Kempt found the holes in the Buchtel defense often, hitting Marcus Whitfield on a 32- yard post pattern, Gareon Conley on a 46-yard go route or Zach Volzer on a nifty 20-yard slant pattern. But maybe the best throw came on his lone first-half touchdown, when — on fourth down — he rolled right, found a wide-open Brody Tonn for a 37-yard score to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead with 9:34 remaining in the half.
While the arm of Kempt and the deadly Tiger passing game would draw many of the oohs and ahhs, the Massillon running game would do the dirty work of picking up many of those tough final yards. The Tigers would have just 14 run plays in the first half — four by Kempt — but three would result in touchdowns.
Kentrell Taylor would score twice on the ground before halftime — on runs of 3 and 7 yards. Ernie Baez would add a 1-yard plunge in the first quarter, while Ryne Moore scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 52-21.
Taylor would finish with three touchdowns while rushing for 52 yards on eight carries. Moore would add 47 on 13 totes, while Baez gained 45 on six carries.
“I think one of our strengths is we can get multiple people to touch the ball,” Hall said. “We make the people defend the field. We have multiple running backs we can put in and carry it around.”
Taylor would help to set up the first Tiger score as well, when he recovered a Griffin fumble at the Buchtel 21 on the third play of the game. Three plays later, he ran it in for a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
“Anytime you can get a turnover early in the game and get the momentum, it’s going to help the first half go your way,” Hall said.
The senior linebacker would also keep Buchtel scoreless after its second drive reached the Massillon 5. It was his tackle on fourth-and-goal that stopped a potential touchdown, when he stuffed the Griffin ball carrier at the 1 to give the ball back to the Tigers.
Massillon wouldn’t be intimidated by the 99 yards between them and the goal line. The Tigers took eight plays and less than a minute to make it 14-0.
It would be 21-0 Tigers before Buchtel finally figured out the Tiger defense. The Griffins would go 80 yards in eight plays, scoring on Eean Jones’ 2-yard run with 3:04 left in the half to make it 21-6.
Buchtel’s second touchdown would come courtesy of its defense, which returned an interception against Massillon’s second-string offense for a score to make it 42-14 after the two-point conversion with 5:30 left in the third. Elijah Bell scored on a 68-yard pass with 3:20 left in the third to cut it to 42-21, necessitating the offensive starters — who had gone to the bench up 42-6 with around six minutes left in the third — to return to the game.