Massillon Brings an End to Hoban Dynasty
by Chris Easterling
November 22, 2019
AKRON Style points can be for some sports. When it comes to ending a high-school football dynasty, though, the only points that matter come on the scoreboard.
The only points that mattered on Friday night in the Division II Region 5 championship game inside The University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium: Massillon 17, Hoban 14.
“We just wanted to score more points than they did,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “That’s all.”
Like that, the Tigers not only won a program-best third consecutive regional title, but also ended the Knights’ run as four-time state champions.
For Massillon, it’s off to its second consecutive 13-0 start. The Tigers will play Avon, also 13-0, in a state semifinal next Friday night. The likely site will be Brunswick, although that will be made official on Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
“Everybody came out and played hard,” Moore said. “Everybody played hard. I’m really proud of all of them.”
Hoban, which finishes 11-2, was denied a chance to join St. Ignatius as the only school to win five consecutive state playoff titles. The Wildcats had done that from 1991-95.
The Knights never led in the game, although they were able to tie it twice at 7-7 and 14-14. Alex Bauer’s 31-yard field goal for Massillon with seven seconds left in the first half provided the difference in the game, a play set up by one of two Hoban fumbles.
“Everything has to end,” Knights coach Tim Tyrrell said. “You don’t want it to end, but it has to end. Next year’s our time to restart our tradition and keep moving forward.”
Massillon made sure Hoban wouldn’t be able to keep moving forward because of a defensive effort, especially in crunch time. No time was bigger than with just over two minutes remaining and the Tigers holding on to their three-point lead.
Hoban faced a fourth-and-11 from the Massillon 19. A week earlier against Mayfield, the Knights had taken the lead for good when Shane Hamm hit Kharion Davis for a 13-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-6 play with just under 90 second remaining to erase the exact same deficit
Ben Krichbaum, though, made sure history wouldn’t repeat itself. The Massillon senior linebacker swarmed Hamm for a three-yard loss to give the Tigers the ball back with 2:05 left.
“Our kids held, man,” Moore said. “They held. Backs against the wall.”
Massillon would make sure that would be the final time Hoban touched the ball. Facing third-and-2 from its own 30, Zion Phifer would be given the ball and would fight his way forward to get the necessary yards to move the chains.
It was Massillon’s only first down of the second half. It was enough, though, to set off the celebration as the Tigers got into victory formation.
“A huge first down at the end,” Moore said. “That was huge. I’m just proud of them.”
Massillon’s ground game proved to be huge throughout the game. Terrance Keyes and Phifer combined to rush for 147 yards on 38 carries.
Keyes finished with a game-high 87 yards on 17 carries. The senior running back played despite a 30-hour period leading into the game of question surrounding his involvement in an August incident in Akron, one which came to the surface on Thursday.
Moore would not comment on the controversy.
“Everybody came out and played hard,” Moore said. “I’m really proud of all of them.”
As a team, the Tigers finished with 138 net rushing yards. They would have 80 passing yards on the night, 53 of those on Aidan Longwell’s touchdown pass to Andrew Wilson-Lamp to give Massillon a 7-0 lead with 6:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Longwell would also throw a nine-yard shovel pass to Phifer to give Massillon a 14-7 lead with 1:02 remaining in the first quarter. The senior quarterback was 4-of-12 with two interceptions.
Hamm would hit Brayden Fox for a 40-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:39 left in the third. Victor Dawson would add a four-yard touchdown run to tie it at 14-14 with 6:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE