Massillon Crushes Canton McKinley, Wraps Up Undefeated Regular Season
The 134th game between Massillon and Canton McKinley went to the Tigers by the score of 35-0. Simply put, Massillon dominated play on both sides of the ball and sent the game into a running clock situation midway through the third quarter. Offensively, they moved the ball with a multitude weapons, both running and passing, and only punted once throughout the game. Meanwhile, the defense held the 7-3 Bulldogs to a net 65 yards, with negative yards on the ground. McKinley never snapped the ball in the red zone.
The victory for Massillon marks the eighth consecutive win in the series and the twelfth in the last thirteen years. The margin of victory, 35 points, is the greatest on the Massillon end since 1960, when the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 42-0. It also ranks fourth overall in Massillon’s long history. Finally, it was the 24th time that McKinley was shut out in the game. Massillon now leads the series 76-53-5.
Statistically, no individual Tiger player stood out, although they all had great games. They do what they do. Da’One Owens completed 9 of 13 for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 52 yards. Braylyn Toles caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Jacques Carter caught three passes and Emy Louis Jr. scored on a pass of 30 yards. Ja’Meir Gamble rushed 13 times for 71 yards. Dorian Pringle rushed for 54 yards and scored twice. And Adonis Marshall intercepted a pass and recorded five solo tackles.
But if there was one player who rose above with his outstanding play it was “Big” Mike Wright Jr. The 280 lb. junior played on both sides of the ball and was an impact player the entire day. Playing on the defensive line, he harassed the McKinley quarterback again and again and managed to catch him three times for sacks that resulted in a loss of 22 yards. Then on offense, when Massillon was in the “jumbo” set, he rushed twice for 11 yards and scored a touchdown. He also tallied a PAT. And he was the lead blocker for Pringle when he found the end zone twice. “Big” Mike stepped up and what a game he had.
McKinley fumbled the opening kickoff, recovered and then lost seven yards in three rushing attempts to start the game. It was an omen of things to come for the entire day. After punting into the wind to their own 41, Owens on the first play from scrimmage unloaded a rainbow pass to Toles, who had comfortably beaten the defender on a post pattern. Toles easily secured the ball in the end zone and the Tigers were on their way. The PAT, which came following 30 yards in penalties, was wide.
On the next Bulldog possession, they fumbled at the Massillon 44 and the Tigers went right back to work. However, they were stopped on downs at the Bulldog 14. McKinley was playing good aggressive defense throughout the game and that meant Massillon needed to use the entire arsenal to move the ball effectively. This Massillon drive was halted on downs, but not the next four. For Massillon was able to find the right plays to beat this defense and move the ball effectively, while also overcome numerous technical penalties.
The next time the Tigers had the ball, they drove 39 yards in six plays with Pringle taking it in from the 18 off a great block by Wright. Wright then ran in the PAT to make the score 14-0. Now came a perfectly executed onside kick by Vinny Keller to kickstart yet another scoring drive. This time Wright ran the ball in from the eight at the end of a six play 49-yard effort that was keyed by a 21-yard, third down run by Owens. Finally, Owens hit a wide-open Lewis on a skinny post for a 30-yard score, upping the margin to 28-0 headed into the locker room. The drive was kick-started by a 24-yard burst up the middle by Gamble, with a facemask penalty tacked on at the end. Two plays later Gamble raced for another 28. Those two runs accounted for most of his yardage, as the Bulldog defense was taking that part of the game away.
The final score came following the second half kickoff when Massillon engineered a masterful 16-play, 74-yard drive that consumed most of the third quarter. It culminated in a 4-yard touchdown run by Pringle, again with a great block by Wright, and sent the game into a running-clock mode. Each time the Tigers were faced with short yardage during the drive the “jumbo” set entered the game. And they never failed to pick up the first down.
Interestingly, on McKinley’s final possession toward the end of the game, the referees huddled for at least two minutes to determine whether Massillon had recovered a fumble. Meanwhile, the clock continued to run. Perhaps, the referees had enough of the unsportsmanlike play that was evident throughout the game and they just wanted to get it over with. Once they agreed that the Tigers had the ball, Owens took a knee twice to end the game.
McKinley quarterback Keaton Rode was the catalyst of the offense and the Tigers did a great job of minimizing his production. He ended up completing 8 of 12 passes for 80 yards, with one ball intercepted by Adonis Vaughn. But nearly all were thrown under the coverage. He was also sacked five times. Four completions went to Keith Quincy for 35 yards. Backup running back Stephon Thomas was the leading ball carrier for the Bulldogs and he gained just 19 yards.
Unfortunately, the game turned into a flag fest, with 18 thrown on the Tigers and 14 on the Bulldogs. For Massillon, sixteen were of the execution variety, while two were for personal fouls. Eleven of the technical penalties were on the offense, but fortunately not enough to slow down the powerful Tiger offense. But several of the defensive penalties did aid the Bulldogs to the tune of five first downs. For McKinley, seven were technical and seven were 15-yarders. Six of the seven major ones occurred in the second and third quarters, after Massillon had essentially salted the game away. Losing is tough.
Overall, the penalty part of the game wasn’t pretty. But show me a team that played penalty-free and I’ll show you a team that lost. The physicality of play is not absent in this game and sometimes it spills over into extra-curricular activities. But both sides have that passion to win. And if that passion goes by the wayside, then this rivalry is surely gone forever. For the passion within a rivalry greatly outweighs any domination in the win-loss column.
That being said, the negativity spilled over into the handshake and continued when the Bulldog players chased the retreating Tigers to the opposite side of the field. Most of it was posturing, although a handful of players were looking for some action. Eventually, the coaches were able to separate the two groups and all departed to their respective locker rooms, foregoing the victory celebration and award ceremony. It was a sad ending to such a great rivalry and something both schools will need to address.
Massillon will now head into the playoffs where they will first host Grove City Central Crossing (4-6) next Friday at 7:00 pm. McKinley will host Strongsville (3-7).