MASSILLON The last two games, Massillon’s defense has been like a brick wall for opposing offenses to try and penetrate. On Friday night against Benedictine, that defense had a little more give to it than previously, but it was still far from giving.
And when the Tigers needed a big play, that defense was more than happy to provide it as well. That was a big reason why Massillon was able to win its third consecutive game, a 28-10 victory over the Bengals at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 2-1 heading into next Friday’s game with St. Ignatius. “They really answered the bell from last week. … Defense played really well again. Ran to the football, physicality, tackling and picked up some turnovers, which were huge.”
Benedictine was able to post 285 yards of offense on 68 plays, both of which were season highs for Tiger opponents by a wide margin. The Bengals also scored the first points – a first-quarter Ivan Shuran 42-yard field goal – and first touchdown – a fourth-quarter 26-yard Ronnie Schultz-to-Christopher Gales pass to make it 14-10 – that Massillon had allowed since Week 1 against St. Edward.
However, none of that ultimately hurt the Tigers in the final tally. That’s because their defense was able to get the big takeaway when it needed to get one.
“They had 285 yards, which is more than we want,” said Moore, whose offense had 266 total yards on 49 plays. “It’s a huge number, but they ran 68 plays. That’s the biggest thing. Our offense has to protect our defense more. We have to retain possession more, keep the chains moving more and that will help our defense out.”
On three different occasions in the second half, the Tigers were able to come up with interceptions to keep Benedictine from making things more difficult for them. Not only that, but Massillon converted all three of them into touchdowns to turn a 7-3 halftime lead into the final margin.
Two of those interceptions were courtesy of Martavien Johnson on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions. The biggest, though, may have come courtesy of Isaiah Clark late in the third quarter.
Benedictine, which only trailed by four, had marched on 17 plays to the Tiger 10, where it faced third-and-goal. Clark jumped the route at the 5, picking off the pass and bringing it back to Bengal 43.
“Just a great break on the ball,” Moore said. “Played very aggressive.”
Three plays later, Raekwon Venson runs it in from the 3 to give Massillon a 14-3 lead with 1:41 left in the third. It was the second of what was three touchdown runs for Venson, who finished with 108 yards on 23 carries.
Johnson would set up Venson’s third scoring run with his first pick of the night, which was brought back 38 yards into Benedictine territory. Five plays later, aided by a Bengal personal foul, Massillon made it 21-10 on a 5-yard scoring run with 6:54 left.
“I just thought he came out and ran hard,” Moore said of Venson. “That’s all we’re asking him to do. He answered the bell. He came out and ran hard.”
Benedictine’s third pick in four possessions came when Johnson pulled one in on Massillon’s side of the 50. The Tigers would turn that into a game-sealing Jumacius Portis 6-yard run with 29 seconds remaining.
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