MASSILLON There was a certain amount of uncertainty surrounding Massillon as it came off of a first-round bye on Friday night. There was a question of rust after having a week off while Columbus Walnut Ridge had played a game.
Turns out, it was unfounded uncertainty.
The Tigers scored early and often, rolling to a 56-0 win over the Scots in a Division II Region 7 second-round game at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Massillon (6-1) advances to next week’s home regional quarterfinal against Hoover (5-2), which defeated Lake on Friday.
“They did everything we asked them to do,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “Good performance. Pretty clean game. Very efficient. Did a good job.”
Massillon had already topped its season high in points at halftime, at which time it led 42-0. The previous high for the Tigers this season was 35 points against Columbus Bishop Sycamore in Week 2 and McKinley in Week 6.
It also was Massillon’s third shutout in seven games. It blanked Bishop Sycamore and Warren Harding in back-to-back games in Weeks 2 and 3.
“How about our backups and JVs holding the shutout?,” Moore said. “That doesn’t happen all the time. I’m really proud of those guys. The starters did their job in the first half, went into the locker room at halftime 42-0, and our younger guys or backups or whoever was playing in the second half, the non-starters, put two scores on their No. 1 defense.”
The question of rust was put to bed in just over a minute of play. On the Tigers’ third play, Zach Catrone hit Jayden Ballard for a 63-yard touchdown pass, putting them in front 7-0 only 1:09 into the game.
Just 1:44 later, it was 14-0 Massillon after Catrone’s second touchdown pass in as many attempts, this one a 32-yarder to Andrew Wilson-Lamp. The score was set up by Jaidan Wise’s interception at the Walnut Ridge 37.
Catrone was 5-of-8 for 121 yards with two TDs and an interception in a quarter-and-a-half of work. Sophomore Jay Crable played the final two-and-a-half quarters.
The Tigers made it 21-0 with 3:43 left in the first quarter on Cam Beasley’s 5-yard scoring run to cap their third possession. Beasley finished with 108 yards on 15 carries.
“Cam did a nice,” Moore said. “Really happy for him. The offensive line and fullbacks blocked it up well for him.”
Massillon added another 21 points in the second quarter. Two scores came on runs by Jumacius Portis (3-yarder) and Willtrell Hartson (47-yarder).
Hartson finished with 65 yards on six carries, while Portis added a fourth-quarter scoring run to make it 49-0. The Tigers rushed for 199 yards for the game.
The other score, sandwiched between the two runs, came when T.J. Williams picked up a fumbled pitch at the Scot 21 and raced untouched to the end zone. The fumble recovery was one of five turnovers the Tiger defense came up with in the game.
“Happy for T.J.,” Moore said. “He deserved that. He’s doing a great job for us. He’s a senior. I’m really proud of him.”
Massillon’s defense limited Walnut Ridge to just 43 first-half yards on 33 plays, including minus-11 rushing yards on 15 attempts. For the game, the Scots had 56 total yards, including just 2 net rushing yards.
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