Quick strike gives Massillon momentum to down Harding
By CHRIS EASTERLING
Independent sports editor
WARREN Massillon had seen a two-touchdown lead completely disappear in the second quarter of its first road game of the season on Friday night at Warren Harding.
But instead of allowing the momentum to continue to move away from them, the Tigers took all of one play to swing it back in their favor. Buoyed by the late first-half score, the Tigers put their foot on the accelerator coming out of the half to run away from Warren 35-14 at Mollenkopf Stadium.
The Tigers, who were tied with the Raiders 14-14 with 3:41 remaining in the half, scored just 10 seconds after Warren had tied the game on a 32-yard Danny Clark to Reggie Rogers touchdown pass. They then scored on their first two second-half possessions to pull away to improve to 3-0 on the season.
“I knew right away that I wanted to come right back after they had a good little drive there and tied it up,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “We got that good return (by Marcus Whitfield). It was definitely a chance to come out and take the home-run shot to Reggie. … It was a good play.”
Clark, making his second start of his career, finished the game 8-of-13 for 145 yards with the one score. He didn’t attempt a pass in the fourth quarter after the Tigers took the 21-point lead.
After the touchdown pass, Warren — which was playing as the “Panthers” on this night in honor of the former Warren Harding teams — only threatened one other time, reaching the Massillon 1 midway through the fourth quarter. But by that point, the game was all but decided.
Warren, now 1-2, was also hurt by a pair of second-half turnovers, including a Mike Smith interception at the Warren 43 that turned into the Tigers’ final touchdown, a 7-yard run by J.D.
Crabtree with 5:21 remaining in the third. Lyron Wilson also had a 16-yard scoring run in the quarter.
“We got that 14-0 lead in the beginning, and they came back,” said Crabtree, who scored three times on the night. “We made a few mistakes. We came in at halftime and we really made some adjustments and came out and we were ready.”
Massillon came out of the chute determined to take command of the line of scrimmage. And that’s just what the Tigers did on their first drive, marching 62 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead when Crabtree powered in from a yard out with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
The third Massillon drive ended the exact same way, with Crabtree going in from a yard out to close out a four-play, 30-yard possession. The second Andrew David point-after kick gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 2:38 remaining in the half.
“They (the coaches) were really rough on them the whole week,” Crabtree said of the Massillon line, which helped the Tigers rush for 147 yards on 29 carries. “They were in full pads. I have all the respect in the world for them. We couldn’t make plays without them.”
Keemari Murry got loose to get Warren back into it, scampering for a 34-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Murry, a sophomore tailback, had 82 second-quarter rushing yards and 107 yards on the ground in the first half.
Murry finished the game with 193 yards on 34 carries with the one score.
“You have to take your hat off to them,” Hall said. “They ground and pound it a little bit in there.”
Warren tied the game up at 14-14 by showing just how valuable the return of Lamar Carmichael at quarterback is to the offense. Carmichael, hampered by a foot injury the first two games, eluded the Tiger pass rush and found Nate Walls for a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6 with 3:41 remaining in the half.
That led to Whitfield’s big kick return to the Warren 32, which led to the touchdown pass that gave Massillon the lead for good.