Massillon offense shines in 62-27 rout of Firestone
MASSILLON – It was a memorable defensive effort that helped carry Massillon to a big win over Steubenville last week. On Friday night, it was the Tigers’ offense that carried the day as they cruised to their fourth win in a row.
The Tigers scored on nine of their first 10 possessions – all touchdowns – as they rolled up a 62-27 win over visiting Firestone at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Massillon improves to 5-1, but the task figures to get much, much tougher next Friday night, when state-ranked and undefeated Austintown Fitch comes to town.
“I thought offensively, we played well,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “It seems like we either play really good offensively, or really good defensively. Next week’s game, if we don’t come out and play a complete game, we’re not going to put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
No doubt the Tigers would love to bottle up a little bit of the offensive fireworks they put on display against the Falcons of Firestone when they go up against the Falcons of Fitch.
By halftime, Massillon had rolled up 281 yards of offense and had turned a close game into a rout. What was a 15-13 Tiger lead with just less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half after turned into a 36-13 advantage by the time the bands hit the field for intermission.
Massillon finished the game with a season-best 585 yards of offense.
The catalyst for Massillon was a familiar face. Senior quarterback Kyle Kempt completed 15-of-17 passes in the first half alone – with four of those going for touchdowns – and had 194 yards through the air.
Kempt finished the night 20-of-25 for 313 yards with five touchdowns. Two of those went to Gareon Conley, while Zach Volzer, Ryne Moore and Marcus Whitfield each caught one.
“Kyle has been a consistent football player for us all year,” Hall said. “That’s what we expect out of him. He’s a captain; he’s a leader. He’s a Division I football player. Kyle Kempt managed the offense, like he always does. I thought we did a great job of spreading the ball around. You couldn’t ask for much more offensively.”
Conley finished the game with eight catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns – six for 120 and both scores came the first half. The 176 receiving yards were second-most in a single game in school history.
But Kempt also showed off a little bit of his scrambling ability. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder helped to open up the lead with a 16-yard run that put Massillon in front 22-13 with 8:27 left in the first half.
That score broke the dam wide open for the Tigers, who outscored Firestone 28-7 in the second quarter. They added a 20-7 third-quarter explosion.
Firestone may have come into Friday night’s game with only a 2-3 record and an offense that had scored more than 13 points just once in its first five games, but the Falcons also boasted some big-play ability behind a Division I college running back in Jerome Lane Jr. and a Nebraska recruit in wide receiver Kevin Gladney.
And thanks to two big plays, Firestone found itself within two points with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.
The first was a 58-yard touchdown pass to Gladney that pulled the Falcons within 8-6 with 4:12 left in the first quarter. Gladney simply beat the Tiger defender on a post pattern, caught the ball in stride and ran untouched into the end zone for the score.
The second was a 40-yard scoring strike to Reggie Rogers that once again cut it to a 15-13 Tiger lead. That Firestone score was set up by an interception on a screen pass by Falcon defensive linemen Brennan Williams, the only time in the first half Massillon did not score when it had the football.
“We had a good game in the first half,” Firestone coach Tim Flossie said. “The second half, we just fell apart. (Massillon) did a nice job. They found a way and just kept going to it.”
Despite the lopsided result on the scoreboard, the Falcons still rolled up 474 yards, 227 of those in the first half. They added a 26-yard scoring pass to Lane with less than 90 seconds left in the game to provide the final margin.