Tigers are Legit; Down Ohio No. 1 Lakewood St. Edward in Powerhouse Showdown
It was billed as the second-best matchup in the country for this week. No. 9 Lakewood St. Edward vs. No. 20 Massillon. And it didn’t disappoint. Big offensive plays. Stifling defenses. Special teams highlights. And points left on the table. But most of all, it had heart. Lots of heart. By both teams. In the end, The Tigers came out on top 15-13, but the game itself showcased two of the best teams in the state, if not the country.
The Eagles got on the board in the second quarter following a pass interception at the Massillon 31 yard line. On 2nd down at the 31 quarterback Thomas Csanyi hit Brian Sullivan on a skinny post at the ten and he ran the rest of the way for the score. But the Tigers’ Dorian Pringle broke through the line and blocked the PAT attempt. Score, 6-0.
Massillon came right back and engineered an 8-play, 69-yard drive that ended with quarterback DaOne Owens running it in from the eight yard line. It came on the last of his eight carries on that drive that netted 42 yards. Vinny Keller’s kick was good and the Tigers took a 7-6 lead into the locker room.
Late in the third quarter Owens got loose again, outracing the St. Ed secondary around the left side for a 20-yard touchdown run. It capped a 4-play 62-yard drive. Now, seizing a point differential opportunity, the Tigers elected to go for two to make it a 2-score advantage. The gamble paid off when Owens found a seam up the middle and the margin improved to 15-6.
The score remained that way throughout most of the fourth period, with the clock continuing to expel precious time and thereby limit opportunities for the Eagles to find two scores. Eventually, Csanyi found Kyan Mason along the right sideline on a 38-yard pass to convert a fourth down and 32 with about a minute and a half left in the game. That placed the ball at the 15 yard line. Then on third down, Sullivan outjumped the Massillon defender in the corner of the end zone and came down with the touchdown pass. The PAT made the score 15-13 and all that now remained was the onside kick, which the Tigers’ Owens recovered.
The entire game can simply be described as a slugfest. Clean, but brutal. Massillon ended up punting three times, while losing the ball three times on turnovers. Meanwhile, St. Edward punted six times and was intercepted once.
The Eagle mantra for all of last season and up to this game was quarterback Casey Bullock running the read-option. Although he is considered an average but effective passer, his forte was running the ball. And he was instrumental in using his feet to lead his team to the Division 1 state title last year. But he was injured last week at the end of the game against Elder and was not available for this one. In stepped junior Thomas Csanyi. Although he is not the runner Bullock is, he is certainly a very good passer. Last week he led the Eagles to victory with his arm and against Massillon he threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns. St. Eds may have been hampered a bit with the loss of Bullock, but not too terribly much. Six of his catches went to Mason and another five to Sullivan.
Owens was the first Massillon quarterback on the field and he immediately drove the team near the goal line, on the heels of an explosive 42-yard run. Slaughter was on next and brought the air game. But it fizzled on account of a stiff Eagle pass rush, which included three future Power-5 players in their front-6. So, the coaching staff opted to remain with Owens for the rest of the game. After searching for what would work against a stout Eagle defense, they settled on an empty backfield set with three wide receivers and put the ball in Owens’ hands. He responded admirably by rushing 26 times for 176 yards (6.8) and scored two touchdowns. He also completed 8 of 11 passes for 50 yards, five of which went to Braylyn Toles for 30 yards.
The Eagles were able to completely control any ground game by the Tiger running backs. They held the combination of Peyyton Mitchell, Ja’Meir Gamble and Dorian Pringle to just 30 yards in 9 attempts (3.3). They also controlled the middle of the field in defense of middle and long-range passes. But the corners and safeties played a bit off the edge wide receivers and that’s where Owens exploited them with his passes, converting several third downs to move the sticks. Of course, they were not able to fully shut down Owens with his running. St. Edward switched to an uncharacteristic for them odd front defensive line for this game, although the Massillon offensive line was able to adequately adjust.
Meanwhile, the Tiger front-7 was facing one of the largest offensive lines in the country. The Eagles average 6’-5”, 299 lbs. They have two players going to Ohio State and one to Michigan, and all were 4-star recruits. On paper, it was an obvious mismatch. But someone forgot to tell Massillon. Especially, linemen Mike Wright Jr., Chase Bond and Malachi Card. And particularly, linebackers Dorian Pringle and Cody Fair. Collectively, along with a swift defensive secondary, they held the Eagle ground game to just 59 yards off of 39 carries. 1.9 yards per attempt. Not a bad night’s work. St. Edwards did find some modest success up the middle behind that massive line, with their running backs gaining 78 yards. And speedy Akron commit Kyan Mason ran four times in the jet sweep for another 15. But Csanyi was sacked three times for a loss of 34 yards.
Dan Tome, the Eagle punter, did a great job, several times pinning the Tigers back toward their own end zone. He finished the game with a 37.7 yard average and placed three punts within the 20 yard line. But then St. Edward had that extra point blocked and in the end it made all the difference.
The onside kick following the final St. Ed score took a nice hop over the first line of defense. But Owens was right behind to secure the ball and fall to the ground. It also locked up the win.
For St. Edward
- 3rd quarter – Drove to the Massillon 29 and was intercepted by Adonis Vaughn. Mike Wright was putting all kinds of pressure on the quarterback, which caused Csanyi’s pass to fall short in the attempt to throw it away to avoid the sack.
- 4th quarter – Drove to the Massillon 31 but lost the ball on downs when the running back was tackled in the backfield.
- 1st quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 7, aided by a 42-yard run by Owens to the Eagle 14. The Tigers were stopped on downs at the seven when Pringle was caught in the backfield on fourth and one.
- 2nd quarter – Da’One Owens completed a long touchdown pass to Jacques Carter, but called back for holding in an area remote from the play.
- 3rd quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 23 and fumbled the ball.
- 4th quarter – Drove to the St. Edward 31 and was stopped on downs.
It was the second consecutive season that Massillon knocked off St. Edward. Last year it ended up being the Eagles’ only loss enroute to a state title. So, with another potential undefeated season gone by the wayside, this year’s loss had to sting a little. But regardless, the Eagles are certainly not any less of a team after having lost and the Tigers have great respect for them. In addition, this game is beginning to turn into nice little rivalry.
Next week Massillon (5-0) will host Middletown, DE (3-0). Last year the Tigers came out on top, 42-24. St.Edward (4-1) hosts River Rouge, MI (1-3).