MASSILLON It must be something about season openers that brings out the best in Massillon receivers.
Junior Andrew Wilson-Lamp set a single-game school record with 232 receiving yards on 11 catches, helping the Tigers to a season-opening 44-14 win over St. Vincent-St. Mary on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. It breaks the old record of 222 yards, set by Austin Jasinski in the 2016 opener at Mentor.
“I just came out ready to play,” Wilson-Lamp said after his record-setting performance. “I wasn’t expecting to break anything.”
It didn’t take long for Wilson-Lamp to get into the groove, as he hauled in a 51-yard catch on Massillon’s third play to set up its first touchdown, 13-yard Terrence Keyes touchdown with 7:15 remaining in the first quarter. By halftime, he would have six catches for 163 yards and a score, a 45-yard catch to give the Tigers a 21-0 lead.
In between that catch and his record-setting 17-yard catch-and-run late in the third quarter, his final catch of the game, however, Massillon would go from on its way to a rout to a close game back to a rout. The Irish would score two touchdown in the final 56 seconds of the first half to cut it to a 21-14 halftime deficit.
“The first post I caught, I was like, ‘This is going to be a good game,'” Wilson-Lamp said.
The Tigers, though, would come out of the locker room by scoring 16 points in the first 4:45 of the third quarter to open up a 37-14 lead. They would get a opening-drive Preston Hodges touchdown run, as well as a safety on a bad punt snap by St. Vincent-St. Mary.
On the subsequent free kick, Jayden Ballard return it 66 yards for a touchdown with 7:15 remaining in the third. Ballard, who had 63 yards on five catches on the night, added a 33-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“We just coached them up,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said of the halftime talk. “The coaches just got together, made the adjustments we needed to make, tried to take care of it. We just came out and played better.”
Or, essentially, play much like the Tigers did to start the game.
Not only that, but the Tigers were doing just about what they wanted on offense, especially in the passing game. Aidan Longwell connected on 12 of his first 13 passes for 215 yards, including the 45-yard touchdown pass to Wilson-Lamp to give Massillon a three-score lead.
Included in Longwell’s start was a run of eight consecutive passes to open the second quarter, all but one of them to either Wilson-Lamp or Jayden Ballard. Longwel was 20-of-23 for 322 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Beyond the passing, Keyes was making the most of his Massillon debut. Playing against the team for which he played his first three seasons, Keyes had a the Tigers’ initial two touchdowns on runs of 13 and one yard.
Keyes would finish with 58 yards on 14 carries.
“I really like how we spread the ball around,” Moore said. “We take pride in getting the ball to all of our athletes.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary, however, would find life in the final 56 seconds of the first half. Enough life to turn what appeared to be heading to a halftime blowout into a one-score game.
The Irish cracked the scoreboard with a 10-yard Luke Lindsay-to-Josh Nickerson touchdown with 56 seconds left in the half to make it 21-7. Then, after Quinn Knox came up with an interception for St. V-St. M at the Irish 49, Lindsay hit Darrian Lewis for a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-14 with 21 seconds left.
“We showed a lot of resiliency,” said Irish coach Bobby Nickol, whose team finished with 179 total yards. “We could have fell behind 28-0 at halftime and hung our heads. We made a few plays there at the end of the half.”
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