Massillon Cruises to 3-0 with a Dominating Win Over Mansfield

Game Statistics

The Mansfield Tygers rolled into Paul Brown Tiger Stadium fresh off a 24-14 victory over defending Division 3 champion Canfield.  But they were no match for a Massillon team that appears headed for another deep run in the state playoffs.  The Tigers led at the half 35-10 and never looked back enroute to a running clock finish of 51-10.

Mansfield’s football capability appeared to be somewhere between Valdosta and Canton GlenOak, the Tigers’ previous two opponents, in that they had many skilled athletes within a very potent offense.  They were led by 6’-4” quarterback Duke Reese, who finished the night passing for 136 yards, while rushing for another 54, tops on the team.  On the receiving end was the very dangerous Amarr Davis, who has incredible speed and can catch the ball in traffic.  Also used as a runner in spots, he caught six passes for game-high 109 yards.

Massillon countered with a constant blitz from the linebackers, rather than sitting back in coverage and permitting Reese to target Davis unopposed.  As a result, Reese spent most of the night running away from would-be tacklers in the backfield.  Forty-one times he dropped back to pass.   And on nearly every occasion he was forced to scramble out of the pocket to either keep the ball or attempt to throw while on the run.  Twice he was caught for a sack.  Reese did manage to get off 28 passes, while completing only eleven, with very few originating from the pocket.

Defensively, once again the Tigers held the running backs in check, this time limiting them to a negative 19 yards in 13 carries.  The Massillon front-7, and particularly the constantly-rotating front-3, just played in the Tyger backfield.

On the other side of the ball the Tygers just didn’t match up, surrendering 320 yards rushing on 37 attempts for an average of 9.0 yards per carry.  Junior Peytton Mitchell rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Da’one Owens got loose for two good runs, of 72 and 23 yards, both for scores.  He finished with 130 yards.

Massillon continues to alternate quarterbacks.  Jalen Slaughter connected on 6 of 9 for 84 yards and two touchdowns, while Owens completed 2 of 5 for 34 yards and one score.  Slaughter also had a nice called-run for 17 yards.  On the receiving end, Braylin Toles caught three for 23 yards and Ja’Meir Gamble grabbed two for 39 and a TD.

The Tigers jumped on Mansfield early, like they did in the previous week against GlenOak.  After holding their foe to a 3-and-out on their first try, Massillon drove 65 yards in four plays for their initial score, a nifty 32-yard pass from Slaughter to Emy Lewis Jr.  Vinny Keller’s PAT was good, the first of seven he connected with on the night.  Owens came in next and he needed just one play to skirt through the center of the line following a fake jet sweep and traverse the necessary 72 yards.

Slaughter’s turn, following a Mansfield fumble.  Four plays covering 15 yards, with Dorian Pringle doing the honors from the three.

One quarter.  21 points.  Game over.  Well, not quite.  On Massillon’s next possession Owens telegraphed a 10-yard sideline pass that was picked by Ja’ontay O’Bryant at the 28 and returned for a touchdown.  Fortunately, the Tigers came right back with an 8-play, 54-yard drive, ending when Owens hit Gamble on a 31-yard strike.  After that the Tigers simply extended the lead, taking a 35-10 advantaga into the locker room, aided by Owens’ 23-yard jaunt for a score.

The Tigers put two more on the board in the second half.  The first was a 1-yard run by Mitchell and the second off a 28-yard pass from Slaughter to Jadyce Thigpen, after the ball deflected off the hands of Ricardo Wells at the goal line.  The safety came when Mansfield snapped the ball over the punter’s head and after the kicker retrieving the ball in the end zone conceded the safety rather than punt.

In spite of the lopsided score, it wasn’t perfect game for Massillon.  Two areas need to be improved upon.  The first is in the passing game, where the two quarterbacks combined for three interceptions.  The first was a pick-6, the second was a long pass thrown up for grabs and the third appeared to be off-target.  The other area is with the pass rush.  The blitzers seemed to always pinch in rather than contain to the edges.  That allowed the QB to constantly escape the rush from either side.

Next week the Tigers (3-0) will entertain Elkhart, Indiana (1-2).  Mansfield (1-2) will play league rival West Holmes (2-1) in a match that may determine the eventual Cardinal Conference champion.