Independent Sports Editor
WARREN Three games into the season, Massillon coach Nate Moore is still waiting for a full four-quarter football game from his team.
The latest example came Friday night at Mollenkopf Stadium. Despite falling into multiple two-score deficits, the Tigers continued to fight back to take a lead at one point. They were also tied two other times in the second half.
The problem for Massillon was that the final counterpunch belonged to Warren Harding, which emerged with a 48-41 win to drop the Tigers to 1-2 on the season.
“We need to put a complete game together,” Moore said after his team saw a last-ditch attempt intercepted in the end zone by Warren with 45 seconds left. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Harding; they’re a good football team. They were the better football team tonight, the scoreboard shows that.”
The scoreboard showed that because Raider quarterback Lynn Bowden almost single-handily put his team on his shoulders in the second half. It was his 20-yard touchdown run with 3:04 remaining that broke a 41-41 tie.
Bowden, who rushed for 212 yards on 13 carries, scored all three Raider second-half touchdowns. One came on a 90-yard kickoff return 14 seconds after the Tigers had forged a 34-34 tie on a Seth Blankenship-to-Todd Fichter touchdown pass with about eight minutes left.
The transfer from Liberty finished with four touchdowns on the night, three rushing. He also threw a 31-yard scoring strike to Juwan Pringle to give Warren a 26-13 halftime lead.
“I would put him in the category of Mario (Manningham) and (Maurice Clarett),” said Warren coach Steve Arnold, whose team is now 3-0. “People who make plays and electrify the crowd.
Whatever adjective you want to use, he’s that. – He’s a fierce, fierce competitor.”
Twice Bowden hurt the Tiger defense by turning a broken play or a cutback into a long touchdown run. His 62-yard run that opened the game’s scoring in the first quarter came on a broken tackle, then a cutback against the grain.
His 63-yard run in the third quarter that gave Warren a 34-27 lead just over a minute after the Tigers had taken a one-point lead came on a broken play where he reversed field in the backfield and outran the defense.
“We knew what we were getting into going in,” Moore said. “He’s a very good player. He hurts us on a lot of broken plays.”
Bowden’s big night overshadowed Keyshawn Watson’s breakout performance at running back for the Tigers. Watson, who had lined up at receiver in the first two games, started at running back and finished with 239 yards on 37 carries.
Watson scored twice. His 1-yard run – plus Brian Corbin’s point-after kick- put Massillon ahead 27-26; his 2-yard run plus the PAT tied the game at 34.
“We thought he was a dynamic player and we needed to put him in the backfield where we could get him more touches on the football,” Moore said.
Massillon had plenty of chances in the game, reaching Warren territory on 11 of 13 possessions. However, only six of those results in scores.
The Tigers also turned the football over four times – including three interceptions – with two of those being turned into Warren touchdowns.
“We had opportunities,” said Moore, whose team travels to meet unbeaten Steubenville next week. “We just have to put a game together. That’s it.”