This is the third part of a 7 part series that relives some of the greatest Massillon Tiger victories in the Massillon vs. Canton McKinley rivalry. These games were chosen by the writers as critical games throughout Massillon’s football history.
Blizzard like conditions, a soaked and muddy field played into the Tigers hands as they handed Canton McKinley a 21-0 shutout at Fawcett Stadium.
WHAT A DAY! Tigers romp 21-0
By ROLAND A. DREUSSI
Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers may not be going to the state football playoffs, but they’re number one in the hearts and minds of all their fans.
The Tigers simply tore apart the playoff-bound Canton McKinley Bulldogs by a 21-0 score before 20,339 snow capped fans Saturday afternoon on a muddy, waterlogged Fawcett Stadium field.
A NEAR blizzard in the second-quarter threatened to turn the game into a “Snow Bowl,” but a flurry of passes from Tiger quarterback Brent Offenbecher and complete domination by the Massillon offensive and defensive lines simply turned it into a rout.
Offenbecher scored the Tigers first TD on the first play of the second quarter when he bootlegged 11 yards around right end and literally dove over a Bulldog defender at the goal line, falling into the end zone.
He then hit Curtis Strawder with a 50-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and hooked up with Greg Carpenter for a 48-yard TD toss early in the fourth quarter.
Offenbecher finished the day with 7 of 9 passing for 162 yards on a field that no one thought he would be able to pass on. He ends the year with 1,369 yards passing on 84 of 146 passes, all Tiger records.
“Bridey (McKinley head coach John Brideweser) forgets he has to run in the mud when he lets the field get wet.” Tiger head coach Mike Currence chided in the jubilant Massillon locker room after the game.
HE WAS referring of course to the fact that Brideweser had declined to put the tarp on the field after the Tiger Booster Club brought it over Thursday.
“The big thing,” Currence said on a serious note, “was that we were able to throw in the mud and that we controlled the line of scrimmage. They weren’t able to run in the mud and they couldn’t throw either.
“Our lines were super,” he continued. “We beat them on the line. Their backs ran hard but they had nowhere to go.”
Brideweser’s explanation was simpler. “We just got our ass kicked,” he said. “They’re a good football team. They’re as good as anybody in the state. How they lost two games I’ll never know.”
BRIDEWESER said his players never thought about the computer poll even after Barberton eliminated itself completely by losing to Cuyahoga Falls Friday night, assuring the Bulldogs of a berth even if they lost to Massillon.
He did agree that the loss to the Tigers would make it tough for his team Friday night at 7:30 when the Bulldogs play Cleveland St. Joseph in the Class AAA semifinal game in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
The 21-0 score Saturday wasn’t indicative of the game the Tigers played. It could have been worse. Massillon completely outplayed the Bulldogs in every facet of the game, not even allowing a first down until 6:51 was left in the game, and not many McKinley fans left in the stands.
All the Tiger fans were there though. Glued to their seats – when they weren’t standing to cheer – by a performance many just hadn’t expected to see. Sure, they new the Tigers could win, but few expected such a performance.
The condition of the field before the game was so bad that you had to wonder if the Tigers’ run and shoot offense might not turn into a slip and slide. It looked like a defensive battle might be waged.
“AT THE beginning,” Offenbecher said, we came in and saw the field and thought there was no way we could pass. Then we got out there, and it was bad, but it wasn’t real bad.”
Offenbecher showed the Tigers weren’t afraid to pass when he threw twice in the first series. One was complete to Mark Pringle for the Tigers first first down of the game and the other fell incomplete. The first drive, which included a 13-yard bootleg by Offenbecher and some good running and blocking by his teammates, ended when Mark Westover’s 34-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
The Tiger defense forced the Bulldogs to punt and Mike Hickey returned the ball five yards to midfield with 5:38 to go in the first quarter.
After one first down, the Tigers faced a third and six at McKinley’s 39 yard line. Offenbecher found Pringle open for 11 yards and a first down.
The Tigers then stuck to the ground and an eight-yard run by Carpenter gave them a first down at McKinley’s five. He then lost six yards on the last play of the first quarter, and the Tigers faced a second and goal from the 11.
Offenbecher took to the air again, this time by running 11 yards around right end and diving over a Bulldog defender into the end zone. Westover’s kick was no good and the Tigers look a 6-0 lead.
Following another Bulldog punt, Massillon took over on its own 43. Offenbecher fooled everybody, including his coach, when be took the ball and ran 24 yards around a wide-open left end.
That gave Massillon a first down at the McKinley 33. The Tigers drove to the eight when Offenbecher was hit and fumbled the ball attempting to pass on third down. McKinley recovered and ran out the clock, trailed only 6-0 at the half.
The Tigers kicked off to open the second half and like clockwork, the Bulldogs punted four plays later.
The Tigers took over at their own 40 and after four running plays and an offside penalty, faced a third and 11 at midfield.
OFFENBECHER dropped back to pass and spotted Strawder cutting across the middle at about the 25. He threw him the ball and the junior sprinted to the zone untouched, after his defender fell down.
Offenbecher then rolled right and hit Pringle with a two-point conversion pass to make it 14-0 Tigers.
Following several punts by each team, the Tigers took over at the McKinley 49 early in the fourth quarter.
Following a holding penalty against the Tigers, a run for no gain and a 19-yard pass to Mike Grove, the Tigers faced a third and nine at the Bulldog 48.
Offenbecher dropped back to pass again and hit Carpenter on the left sideline at about the 25. The senior wingback then broke down the sideline and didn’t stop until he crossed the goal line. Westover’s kick was good and the Tigers had a 21-0 lead with 8:34 left in the game. Many McKinley fans headed for the exits.
IT WASN’T until 6:51 left that Rick Asberry broke off a 14-yard run for the Pups’ initial first down. They made three more in the drive, but Kevin Gowins kept them out of the end zone when he picked off a Mike Brown aerial inside the Massillon 10.
The Bulldogs, who lost 7 3 to Massillon last year, have yet to score a touchdown against Currence.
The statistics bear out the fact that it was a super team effort by the Tigers. They gained 162 yards passing and 115 rushing while allowing the Bulldogs 81 rushing (51 of which came in their last drive) and six passing.
First downs rushing 8 4
First downs passing 5 0
Total first downs 13 4
Yds. gained rushing 160 101
Yds. lost rushing 45 20
Net yds. gained rushing 115 81
Net yds. gained passing 162 6
Total yds. Gained 277 87
Passes attempted 9 5
Passes completed 7 1
Passes intercepted by 1 0
Times kicked off 4 1
Kickoff average (yards) 54 5 47 0
Kickoff returns (yards) 17 68
Times punted 2 7
Punt average (yards) 39.0 23.4
Punt returns (yards) 11 1
Fumbles 1 1
Lost Fumbled ball 1 0
Penalties 3 0
Yds. Penalized 25 0
TD’s rushing 1 0
TD’s passing 2 0
Total number of plays 52 47
Total time of possession 25:51 22:09
MASSILLON 0 6 8 7 21
McKINLEY 0 0 0 0 0
MASS – Brent Offenbecher 11 run (kick failed);
MASS – Curtis Strawder 50 pass from Offenbecher (Mark Pringle pass from Offenbecher);
MASS – Greg Carpenter 48 pass from Offenbecher (Mark Westover kick).