Ursuline uses strong running game to stop Massillon
YOUNGSTOWN The more physical team always was expected to be the team to emerge from Friday night’s showdown between Massillon and Ursuline with the win.
The Irish were the more physical of the two teams on this night inside Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium. That fact was reflected on the scoreboard, which read Ursuline 23, Massillon 14.
And no one was disputing that fact less than Tiger head coach Jason Hall, whose team dropped its second consecutive game – both to Youngstown area teams – to fall to 5-2.
“We got beat physically,” Hall said. “It is what it is. Their defense beat us up physically. There you go. We all got to look in the mirror.”
Massillon’s only two scores were set up by short fields. One came after a shanked punt set up their first possession at the Irish 26; the other after Jeff Koch’s interception started their final possession of the first half at the Ursuline 37.
Both ended with J.D. Crabtree touchdown runs. The first put Massillon ahead 7-0; the second gave the Tigers a 14-13 halftime lead.
Other than that, Massillon found next-to-nothing consistently go right for it against a stout Irish defense. The Tigers had their first drive of the second half end with a blocked 22-yard field goal, and their final drive of the game end with a 41-yard field goal go wide right.
Massillon’s running game was limited to a net of 77 yards, although Crabtree did run for 105 yards on 18 carries. The Tigers put the ball up 37 times, completing 14, for 223 yards.
“They got movement,” said Hall, whose team also was hurt by eight penalties. “They were able to get some penetration. It really cut off our cut-backs and our seams.”
The Tigers did have two other drives reach Ursuline territory, one to the Irish 39 and the other to the Irish 37. The first ended in a punt after the drive was short-circuited by a first-down sack in the second quarter; the latter saw the Tigers lose 31 yards on a bad punt snap to put the Irish in business at the Massillon 27 late in the third quarter.
The second one would set up Ursuline’s 26-yard field goal with 10:04 remaining. That gave the Irish the lead for good at 16-14.
“We’re growing up as a football team,” Ursuline head coach Larry Kempe said after his team improved to 5-2. “I’ve always liked our physicality defensively. We’re starting to understand that offensively up front, too.”
That was evident in the Irish’s patience with the running game. Of their 63 offensive plays, 60 were rushes, netting a total of 274 yards.
For the second week in a row, Massillon allowed a pair of 100-yard rushers, with one of those two being the opposing quarterback. This time, it was Irish quarterback Vito Penza leading all rushers with 168 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns.
Penza’s 32-yard run on the Irish’s second possession pulled them within 7-6 of the Tigers. His 1-yard plunge with 9:05 left in the second quarter gave Ursuline a 13-7 lead after the PAT.
His final score – a 55-yard run with 8:33 remaining – made it a two-score game at 23-14.
“We knew we had to play Ursuline football, Youngstown football,” Penza said. “We played really well as a team.”
Kimauni Johnson also topped 100 yards rushing for Ursuline, gaining 106 yards on 27carries