1951: Massillon 54, Akron South 13
Tigers Repel Akron South Invasion 54-13
Sophomore Back Scores Six Touchdowns As Local Team Wins 18th In A Row
By LUTHER EMERY
The Washington high school Tigers found a new star Friday night as they rolled up their season’s largest score to smash Akron South high school 54-13 before 10,832 fans in Tiger stadium.
The new flash was Johnny Francisco, picked from the sophomore ranks, who raced to six of the eight touchdowns, with a brilliant bit of ball carrying.
His first score was a token one yard effort, but after that he delivered with runs of 22, 23, 8, 25 and 31 yards, to surprise even his sophomore teammates who had helped him dash his way to many touchdowns as a member of their team. He only carried the ball nine times – six touchdowns in nine runs – not bad. He also caught a 14-yard pass from brother Paul.
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HIS PLAY in sophomore games earned him the honor of starting last night and he did so well the coaches just left him fill in for Bobby Grier, the regular left halfback, for most of the game.
Sharing the ball carrying spotlight with Francisco were Lee Nussbaum, fullback, and Tom Straughn. The former also became of age when he went 59 yards for one of the touchdowns and his 111 net yards represented the most made by any Tiger back. Francisco’s net total was 109 and that of Straughn 110.
Just as everyone had predicted and as the Tiger coaching staff had expected, South unleashed an aerial bombardment at the start of the game, that almost had Coach Chuck Mather calling out the civil air patrol to halt the invasion.
Certainly his Tigers had their troubles in a very exciting first half, when South twice led them 7-0 and 13-7. Only a gallant defensive stand kept the visitors from scoring a third touchdown in the second period which ended 27-13, while a fumble stopped them in the fourth quarter just a few yards short of the Tiger goal.
When a team’s passing attack is clicking there isn’t much you can do to stop it as the Tigers learned in the first half. Frequently they had good position on the South receivers, but football coaches will tell you a perfect pass can’t be stopped and that’s what happened.
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THE VISITORS’ air raids were not nearly as effective the last two periods, however, largely because the passer was rushed and didn’t have the time to take the deadly aim with which he had previously hit his receivers.
All in all, however, South in rolling to two touchdowns and almost a couple more, gained 259 yards through the air, by completing 12 of 29 passes.
Fortunately the visitors were not nearly as effective on the ground, gaining but 40 yards in their ball carrying efforts.
It was in this department that the Tigers excelled although they too made use of the forward pass at times. They gained 409 yards carrying the ball and 116 with the pass.
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THE SHARPEST blocking of the season made it easier for the ball carriers to gain around than in past games. Francisco, for instance, seldom had a hand laid on him, a tribute to the blocking and also to his ability to set up his blocks and thread his way through the open field. Nussbaum and Straughn both ran harder and shook off many tacklers in making their yardage.
The Tigers did all of their scoring in the first three periods, seven points in the first, 20 in the second and 27 in the third. They couldn’t get the ball over in the fourth when Coach Mather was filling his ranks with substitutes. He used 40 players in all, as far as we could count, and we may have missed one or two along the way.
The game had its misfortunes. Big Jim Geiser was carried off the field with a bruised back muscle and Willing Longshore sustained what may be a cracked collar bone on the last play of the game.
The victory was the Tigers fourth of the season and their 18th in a row. They were last defeated by Mansfield in the middle of the 1949 season.
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THE TIGERS won without the services of two of their biggest men, Glenn Tunning and Henry Ace Grooms who were hurt in the 13-7 squeeze over Steubenville last week. Grooms got in long enough to toss two passes just before the end of the game. Some friends who drove all the way from Brownsville, Pa., went home disappointed at not having seen him play more.
South didn’t wait long to show the Tigers what a forward pass looked like. On the first play Larry Boyer hit Jerry Ford for a 40-yard pass and a first down on the Tiger 37. Tony Roppolo pegged to Halfback Jess Campbell for another on the 24 and then found Boyer in the flat for a pretty toss that went the rest of the distance. The game was only two minutes and 47 seconds old.
The Tigers lost the ball on a fumble on their first ball carrying efforts but they got it back when Roppolo gambled on fourth down and failed to make yardage on the 35. Then the Tigers struck, the big blow being a 58-yard pass from Paul Francisco to Bruce Brenner who went to the South four before he was caught. Two plays later Johnny Francisco was over the goal and the Tigers had tied it up at 7-7.
The touchdown by no means broke South. The visitors came right back with Jim Gleasten intercepting Paul Francisco’s pass on his 37 and Roppolo tossing a five-yarder to Ford and another in the flat to Jess Campbell who took the ball on the 50 and went the rest of the way. Roppolo kicked the extra point the first time he tried it but South was caught holding and was penalized 15 yards. He missed the second attempt and his Cavaliers led 13-7.
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THE TIGERS’ offense began clicking after this one. They took the kickoff on their 37 and Straughn raced to the South 32.
He overcame a five-yard penalty to lug it to another first down on the 22 and John Francisco hit around his left end for the rest of the distance.
Rubio also missed the kick which left the score tied at 13-13.
Though the half ended 27-13, South gave the Tigers a score toward the end of the period by passing the ball from its own 31 to a first down on the Tiger four. Here the locals dug in and stopped four ball carrying efforts to regain the ball before the end of the half.
The third period was a nightmare of points for the Tigers as they crossed the South goal four times. First it was Nussbaum racing 59 yards to score. Then came Johnny Francisco to wind up a 64-yard march with a 25-yard dash into pay dirt. Next it was Paul Francisco bucking the ball over from the one yard line after Straughn had been denied a 37-yard T.D. jaunt because of a penalty. A 14-yard pass from Paul to John Francisco had put the ball on the one yard for the former to get his points.
The final score was made as the third period closed after Weldon Younkers recovered Boyer’s fumble on the South 22. Two plays lost nine yards but John Francisco more than made up for them as he was shaken loose for 31 yards and six points.
Two Tigers, Chug-Chug Stewart, and Bobby Joe Johnson were not permitted to dress last night for having missed practice without a legitimate excuse.
Today 35 members of the squad were taken to Columbus to attend the Ohio State-Michigan football game.
ENDS – Corbett, Keen, Gable, Brenner, Shilling, Climo, Sweasey.
TACKLES – Kraus, Youngers, Gibson, Strobel, Takacs, Chapman, Gumpp, Rubio, Geiser.
CENTERS – Roderick, Corral, Fabianich.
GUARDS – Milncek, Sapia, Grunder, Glinage, Moyer, Crone.
QUARTERBACKS – Longshore, P. Francisco, Misere, Dommer.
HALFBACKS – Khoenle, Traylor, J. Francisco, Straughn, Millar, Grier.
FULLBACKS – Vilet, Nussbaum, Grooms, Tasseff.
ENDS – Ford, Spicker, Johnson, Beesley, McLeod.
TACKLES – Litz, Carson, Vanatta, Skiles.
GUARDS – Robert, Anthony, Hickman, McGardy, Burton, Biettle.
CENTERS – Long, Sues.
QUARTERBACKS – Roppolo, Foster.
HALFBACKS – Boyer, Campbell, Williams, Gleasten, F. Ford, Sellers.
FULLBACKS – Doakes, Slappy, Gukic.
Score by periods:
Massillon 7 20 27 0 54
Akron South 7 6 0 0 13
Massillon – J. Francisco 6; Nussbaum; P. Francisco.
Akron South – Boyer, Campbell.
Points after touchdown:
Massillon – Rubio 6 (placekicks).
Akron South – Roppolo (placekicks).
Referee – C.W. Rupp.
Umpire – Tony Pianowski.
Head Linesman – Verlin Jenkins.
Field Judge – Joe Morbito.
First downs 9 15
Passes attempted 13 29
Passes completed 5 12
Had passes intercepted 1 0
Yards gained passing 116 250
Yards gained rushing 409 40
Total yards gained 525 299
Yards lost 30 44
Net yards gained 495 255
Times kicked off 9 3
Average kickoff (yards) 39 40
Times punted 1 5
Average punt (yards) 40 45
Yards kickoffs returned by 20 55
Yards punts returned by 77 5
Times penalized 5 6
Yards penalized 25 60
Times fumbled 4 3
Lost ball on fumbles 2 3