Irish stall Tigers’ momentum, rattle playoff hopes for third year in a row
BY CHRIS EASTERLING
Independent sports editor
MASSILLON Big plays were a big problem for Massillon on Friday night against St. Vincent St.Mary. Because of that, the Tigers’ precarious playoff hopes took a big hit.
The Irish once again jumped on Massillon early for a double-digit lead for the fourth consecutive year.
For the third year in a row, they had all the answers when the Tigers would challenge that lead as they won 56-31 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“It just seemed like, we’d get going and then we’d sputter,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “Everybody was taking turns making mistakes. You can’t do that against good teams. You have to put multiple good series in a row together on both sides of the ball.”
St Vincent-St. Mary, which jumped to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, led by as much as 18 in the first half. Massillon got within seven in the second quarter, and 11 early in the fourth, but couldn’t get closer.
The loss drops Massillon to 4-5 entering the Week 10 showdown at McKinley next Saturday. The Tigers – No. 9 in Division II Region 5 this week – could very well go into the game with no shot at the postseason, depending on other results. “We have good, tough kids who I think are resilient,” St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dan Boarman said. “We made some mistakes, obviously.
We’re going to have to shore some of those things up. Our kids keep playing.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary’s penchant for getting the big play started on the game’s first play, when Dom Davis hit DeAmonte’ King for a 48-yard pass to the Tiger 17- On the next play, Davis hit Myles Williams for a 17-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Irish lead 20 seconds into the game.
After Massillon was stopped on fourth-and-inches at the St. V 36, the Irish were pushed into a third-and-20 situation. But Davis and King connected again, this time a 45-yard pass to the Tiger 28.
Next play, Markus Hurd took off for a 28-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Irish lead. Massillon had its share of big plays also. The problem for the Tigers, though, was that they spent the remainder of the game trying to chase down the Irish after their big opening salvo.
The first five Tiger drives reached St. V territory, the last three of which resulted in points. Lee Hurst II caught a pair of touchdown passes – 50- and 21-yarders – while Klay Moll kicked a 28-yard field goal in the first half.
All of that, however, left Massillon staring at a 35-17 halftime deficit.
After the Tigers pulled within 14-10 on Moll’s field goal, the Irish answered with a six-play drive to take a 21-10 lead on Kurd’s 9-yard run. After Massillon got within 21-17 on Hurst’s second touchdown catch with 2:40 left in the half, St V answered with a six-play drive – aided by a Tiger personal foul – to make it 27-17 with 1:03 left in the half. On the very next play by Massillon, the Irish got the ball back at midfield on an interception. A 33-yard pass from Donte Taylor to Davis would set up a 21-yard Davis touchdown run with 20 seconds left in the half, followed by a two-point conversion for an 18-point cushion at the intermission.
Massillon would pull within 42-31 on a pair of Keyshawn Watson scoring runs, the last of which was a 47-yarder with 11 minutes left. However, Kurd’s 73-yard kickoff return set up Davis for a 1-yard scoring plunge to push the Irish back up to 49-31 just 19 seconds later.
Kurd added a 13-yard run with 3:58 left to provide the final margin.