Tag: <span>Aidan Longwell</span>


2019: Massillon 35, Avon 10

Backs, line answer the bell for Massillon
Nov 29, 2019 10:18 PM


PARMA Massillon coach Nate Moore believes in a workmanlike approach to a game.

To the fifth-year Tiger mentor, it’s all about punching the clock on game night and putting in a full 48-minute effort. That’s regardless of who the player is or what may be their perceived role.

On Friday night in a Division II state semifinal against Avon at Parma’s Byers Field, those business-like approaches helped the Tigers run their way to a 35-10 win and a second consecutive berth in the state championship game.

Massillon, 14-0, will face Cincinnati La Salle on Thursday night in Canton for the state title.

The approach started with senior running back Zion Phifer, who stepped into the starting role due to an injury to Terrance Keyes Jr. Phifer clocked and helped to knock out the Eagles thanks to a 146-yard, four-touchdown performance on 20 carries.

“He went out there and did his job,” Moore said. “I’m proud of him for it.”

Phifer’s four touchdown runs came in a variety of styles. There were runs where he was virtually untouched and others where he ran over defenders.

Then, there was his final run, a 25-yarder in the third quarter, in which he spun out of the pile and ran into the end zone. That provided Massillon with a 28-10 lead.

The final score came thanks to Raekwon Venson, a one-yard run with just over seven minutes remaining. Venson ran for 54 yards on nine carries.

“They’re physical, obviously,” Avon coach Mike Elder said of Massillon’s running game. “If you’re going to win these games, you do it in the offseason, you do it in the weight room. You do it with genetics, that’s part of the deal. They’re a physical football team.”

That physicality started up front with a Massillon offensive line which was forced to shuffle a bit when guard John Kouth went down with an early injury. Dylan Garretson, however, came in to fill the void.

It wasn’t the first time Garretson has been called upon to help fill in a vacancy. Like Phifer and Venson, though, the performance was exactly what Moore expected to see when he went in the game.

“He did his job when called upon,” Moore said. “That’s not something, that’s the expectation. That’s the expectation. I’m not going to make it into something it’s not.”

That line helped Massillon rush for 185 net yards on 32 carries. Both Phifer and Venson averaged at least 6.1 yards a rush.

“I’m proud of them,” Moore said. “I’m super proud of them. But I’m proud of everybody.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE


2019: Massillon 35, Massillon Perry 7

Massillon airs it out to topple Perry
Nov 15, 2019 10:12 PM


LAKE TWP. The one thing Massillon didn’t want to have happen in Friday night’s Division II Region 5 semifinal was Perry to get an early lead. To fall behind early to the Panthers meant potentially dealing with their ability to constrict the game behind their run-heavy offense.

So, the Tigers made sure they didn’t fall behind. At all.

Massillon scored on its first five possessions to take control of things almost from the start in rolling to a 35-7 victory over Perry in front of a capacity crowd at Lake High’s Blue Streak Stadium.

The Tigers will now take a 12-0 record into next Friday’s regional championship game against four-time reigning state champion Hoban in a rematch of last year’s state title game at a site to be determined. The Knights, 11-1, rallied late to beat Mayfield 21-17 in the other Region 5 semifinal.

“We’ll figure that out later,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “The coaches will be in working all weekend. We’re going to celebrate this tonight. We’re going to enjoy it.”

The Tigers got the party started early by taking the opening kickoff and turning it into a 14-yard Aidan Longwell-to-Andrew Wilson-Lamp touchdown pass with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter. The two would hook up against to close out the second Massillon possession of the quarter, this time on a 36-yard strike to make it 14-0.

Longwell and Wilson-Lamp would connect eight times for 142 yards. They would hook up for a third touchdown, this time a 48-yarder with 25.6 second remaining in the half to give Massillon a 35-7 lead.

“We had some matchups on the outside,” said Longwell, who was 14-of-15 for 300 yards with five touchdowns in the first half alone, “They were giving us a different look than they were showing us on film. We took advantage of it.”

Longwell would finish the game 19-of-26 for 337 yards. While Wilson-Lamp caught three of his five touchdown tosses, he didn’t forget about the other star receiver on the team, Jayden Ballard.

Ballard had a game-high 10 catches for 186 yards. He also caught a pair of touchdowns as well on virtually the same play, albeit a little different the second time around.

Ballard’s first scoring catch was a 57-yarder just 45 seconds into the second quarter. That put Massillon in front 21-0.

His next touchdown catch, though, was a demonstration in concentration. On third-and-3 from the Tiger 18, Ballard ran a similar post pattern deep, although the ball was deflected by Perry’s Amir Betts.

That deflection, though, was enough to give Ballard a chance to bring in the pass. It would end up being an 82-yard scoring play to put Massillon ahead 28-0.

“We always do tip drills in practice,” Ballard said. “It just gets our hands better for what we do on Fridays.”

That big lead was enough to put Perry in a bind from which it never could really recover. That was especially true after back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, followed by a punt on its third possession.

The Panthers would finally put together their best drive of the night to get on the board late in the first half. With Dion Cundiff and Josh Lemon leading the way, Perry would march 80 yards on 13 plays to pull within 28-7 on Lemon’s five-yard run with 1:10 remaining in the half.

Lemon would finish with 92 yards on 18 carries. Cundiff would add 77 yards on 17 carries.

Perry would finish with 208 rushing yards in the game, a season low. The Panthers would have 261 total yards, with three of their nine possessions reaching Massillon’s side of the 50.

“Listen, they’re a well-coached football team,” Massillon defensive coordinator Craig McConnell said. “I respect what they do and what those kids have done. They play hard. Our kids were ready. We were patient with our calls and our kids read their keys and tackled. We were lucky enough to get ahead of the chains in a lot of situations.”

Just like Massillon was able to get ahead of Perry on the scoreboard early.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE


2019: Massillon 55, Warren Harding 0

Twice as nice: Massillon opens with another rout of Warren
Nov 08, 2019 9:58 PM


MASSILLON The concern going into Friday night’s Division II Region 5 playoff opener for Massillon was two-fold

There was the concern about a potential letdown coming off of the previous week’s emotional win over archrival McKinley. There was also a worry about potentially coming out lacking in focus due to the 42-point Week 3 regular-season win the Tigers had registered back over their first-round opponent, Warren Harding.

Those concerns proved to be unfounded. Very unfounded.

Massillon would use big plays and stifling defense to roll to a 55-0 victory over the visiting Raiders in Friday night’s regional quarterfinal at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“Obviously, you have to come out playing hard against a team like Warren,” said Massillon senior defensive lineman Manny McElroy, who forced a fumble which was returned by Caiden Woullard for a third-quarter touchdown. “They’re a great team. They’ve got great players and they’re able to make big plays. When we all do our jobs, we can make big plays. Everybody did their one-11th.”

The Tigers improved to 11-0 on the season. They will advantage to next Friday’s regional semifinal against Perry, a 37-27 winner over Hudson Friday at a site to be announced Sunday afternoon by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

It will be the first time the two schools, located less than three miles apart, have played since the 2015 season opener, Nate Moore’s first game as head coach at Massillon. It will be the fourth playoff meeting between the two, the first since a 41-20 Tiger win at Perry in the 2006 first round.

“It’s Week 12,” Moore said. “It’s Week 2 of the playoffs. It’s the next step. We’re happy to still be in it.”

After leading 27-0 at halftime, Massillon would use a 28-0 third-quarter advantage to take a 55-0 lead into the fourth quarter. The Tigers would force fumbles on three consecutive Raider possession to help create that bulge, including a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Woullard.

For the game, Massillon would force five turnovers, while limiting the Raiders to just 107 total yards, including three net rushing yards. That included one on Warren’s first possession, which helped kick-start the Tiger rout.

“It definitely boosts our confidence more,” Woullard said of the turnovers. “It definitely gets us more confident. We just want to get back at it.”

On the fourth play of the game, Massillon’s Isaiah Roberson deflected a Raider pass and teammate Luke Murphy came up with the interception, which he brought back to the Tiger 46. Seven plays later, Terrance Keyes Jr. ran 11 yards for a touchdown to give Massillon a 6-0 lead – the point-after try failed after a misplayed snap – with 8:13 left in the first quarter.

Keyes would make it 13-0 with 1:17 remaining in the first quarter when he took off on a 75-yard jaunt on the first play of the Tigers’ fourth possessions. His third touchdown run of the night, a 3-yard jaunt, would make it a 34-0 Massillon lead with 8:27 left in the third.

Keyes would rush for 154 of his 188 yards on just eight first-half carries. Zion Phifer and Raekwon Venson would each add a second-half rushing touchdown.

“We like picking up yards,” Moore said. “We like scoring points. How that happens doesn’t really matter.”

Aidan Longwell would tie the Massillon career completions record when he hit Jayden Ballard for a 58-yard touchdown 17 seconds into the second quarter to make it 20-0. Longwell, who would go 5-of-11 for 110 yards with a score in the game, broke the mark on a screen pass on the next possession.

Longwell now has 440 career completions. The old mark was 437, set by Justin Zwick in 2000-01.

Zach Catrone added a 30-yard touchdown pass to Eric Thurman in the third quarter.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

Massillon vs. McK - Throwback (Large) History

2019: Massillon 24, Canton McKinley 14

Late plays help Massillon answer the bell, defeat archrival McKinley
Chris Easterling
Nov 02, 2019 8:00 PM

CANTON Two passes by two teams with two different results.

However, there was just one ultimate result from both of them: A 24-14 Massillon victory over McKinley in their 130th meeting, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday afternoon, giving the Tigers their second consecutive 10-0 regular season.

The first pass came with just over three minutes remaining and the Tigers clinging to a 17-14 lead. McKinley had moved the ball to the Massillon 17, where the Bulldogs faced fourth-and-4.

Elijah Wesley threw toward tight end Jasper Robinson. However, Andrew Wilson-Lamp, who played his season high in defensive minutes, deflected the pass to turn the ball over the Tigers on downs.

“(Cornerbacks coach Jason Jarvis) always talks to us about staying ready,” said Wilson-Lamp, who did not have a pass break-up all season entering the game. “I stayed ready. My time came today.”

The fourth-down stop still left Massillon with three minutes to burn off in order to preserve a fourth consecutive win over its archrival. The Tigers managed to burn about half that off, but still were left with about 80 seconds and a third-and-6 from their own 21.

With both teams still owning a timeout, conventional wisdom suggested running the ball to force McKinley to use its final timeout. The Tigers, though, threw conventional wisdom — and the ball — into the wind.

The result was a 79-yard game-sealing touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Jayden Ballard. It provided Massillon with the first two-score lead of the day at 24-14 with 1:13 remaining.

“We’ve got matchups,” said Longwell, who shook off an injury both in last week’s win over Louisville as well as in the second quarter Saturday to throw for 206 yards and two TDs. “We had Drew and Jayden on that play, just looking for the better matchup. Jayden was the one who had the matchup. We trust him to go make the play.”

It was the perfect book-end on the day for the Tiger passing combo, who had connected on a 12-yard score with 2:21 remaining in the first half to tie the game at 7-7. Ballard finished with nine catches for 114 yards and the two scores.

McKinley, which saw its six-game win streak come to an end to finish the regular season at 8-2, gave Massillon everything it could handle throughout the game.

“It was a great environment,” first-year head coach Marcus Wattley said. “The fans were great. We did some stuff that was out of character and made some mistakes, but the atmosphere was electric. It’s nice that it’s not over, that the season didn’t end on that note. We’ve got to get over it and move forward.”

The Bulldogs, who likely will host Solon in the Division I playoffs Friday, capitalized on a pair of Tiger turnovers for each of their leads.

After a punt bounced off the back of a blocking Massillon player, McKinley recovered at the 50. Seven plays later, Wesley threw a perfect 34-yard strike to Xavier Black in the end zone for a 7-0 lead with three seconds left in the first quarter.

After Massillon had milked the first 7:20 of the third quarter, Harold Fanin came up with a fourth-down interception at the McKinley 20. Eight plays later, Lameir Garrett ripped off a 48-yard TD run to give the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead with 1:28 remaining.

That lead lasted all of 16 seconds. That’s how long it took for Terrance Keyes Jr. to get loose for a 63-yard TD run on the first play of Massillon’s next possession, giving the Tigers the lead back for good at 17-14.

“It was just getting a feel of it,” said Keyes, who rushed for 141 yards and a score on 21 carries. “Like I said, the atmosphere, it was just crazy. It was kind of nerve-wracking. … I just had a mindset that, I don’t care if I score, I don’t care about the stats, I just want to get the win.”

Garrett’s 48-yard run helped him rush for 159 yards on 25 carries, the most rushing yards by an individual against Massillon this season. Of McKinley’s 300 net yards, 179 came on the ground, which also was a season high allowed by the Tigers.

However, it still wasn’t enough to prevent the Tigers from extending their hot streak in the series to 8-1.

“We did some things that were out of character a little bit,” McKinley senior linebacker Joseph Saipaia said. “The effort was there, but we just didn’t execute.”

Massillon has won 21 consecutive regular-season games as it heads into the Division II state playoffs.

“Our mentality has always been there’s going to be big plays,” Massillon linebacker Benjamin Krichbaum said. “This is a big game. Big plays are going to happen because these are both two good teams. When they do, we focus on next play. Go to the next play.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 24, Louisville 0

Injuries, Louisville not enough to slow down Massillon
Oct 25, 2019 10:43 PM

MASSILLON Massillon’s undefeated season remains intact. The Tigers, though, head into their biggest game of the year with a couple of big injury concerns.

Massillon emerged Friday night with a 24-0 win over visiting Louisville. However, in the process, both Tiger quarterback Aidan Longwell and center Cole Jones departed the game in the third quarter with injuries.

After the game, Massillon head coach Nate Moore declined to comment on the nature of either injury. Instead, he focused on the performance his team put forth in improving to 9-0 for the second consecutive season entering the annual rivalry game at McKinley.

“It’s a good ballgame against a good team,” said Moore, whose team has won 20 consecutive regular-season games. “We just kept playing ball.”

The injuries came in the midst of a penalty- and injury-filled third quarter that saw the Tigers pick up seven flags for 57 yards and the Leopards draw four for 30 yards. Louisville also saw running back Nathan Guiley leave the game with a leg injury as well in the quarter.

Massillon had fought its way to a 14-0 lead after it took the second-half kickoff and marched 48 yards to the end zone, with Terrance Keyes Jr. rushing the final 11 yards for the touchdown with 9:44 remaining in the third. The Tigers got the ball on the Louisville side of the 50 after it had unsuccessfully tried an onside kick.

It was on Massillon’s second third-quarter possession in which Longwell was injured as was hit while delivering an incomplete third-down pass. He left the game, with Zach Catrone coming in to play the final quarter and a half.

Catrone would throw a fourth-quarter touchdown to Andrew Wilson-Lamp, a 22-yarder, to give Massillon a 24-0 lead with 2:41 remaining. He was 2-of-4 passing with 33 yards in relief of Longwell.

Longwell was 11-of-19 for 114 yards with an interception in his time.

“I’m proud of him,” Moore said of Catrone, who had also come in for Longwell in last season’s regional-semifinal win over Columbus Whitehall-Yearling. “He did a great job.”

Louisville’s defense, while it would give up 17 second-half points, was stout for much of the game in not giving Massillon too many big plays. While the Tigers finished with 377 yards in the game, the Leopards were able to force a pair of missed field goals – one of which was blocked – while also limiting Massillon to just 5-of-11 on third-down conversions.

The biggest area where Louisville was able to succeed was at the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends Jason Goard and Tony Brahler combined for nine solo and six assisted stops, with Goard recording the Leopards’ lone sack.

“Our kids played hard,” said Louisville coach Jeff Twiddy, whose team falls to 5-4. “They’re really fast. I thought we were physical. I thought we played a good ballgame.”

The problem for Louisville was it was unable to take advantage of any opportunities it had to put points on the board. The Leopards had three drives inside the Tiger 40, two of which ended on downs and the third squelched by an interception by Massillon’s Preston Hodges.

Massillon’s defense limited Louisville to 192 total yards on 62 attempts. The Tigers held the Leopards to just 43 rushing yards on 30 carries.

“We played really well defensively,” Moore said. “I would’ve liked to get off the field a little sooner on a couple of drives. Other than that, it was a great ballgame by our defense.”

While Louisville couldn’t sustain its running game, Massillon’s running game thrived to a tune of 230 yards on 44 carries. Keyes finished with 157 yards on 26 carries for his fourth consecutive 100-plus-yard game.

Zion Phifer added 78 yards on 14 carries. He gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with a 1-yard run with 9:41 remaining in the second quarter.

“Both of those guys grounded out a lot of really tough yards,” Moore said. “Zion is a great back and did a heck of a job.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 48, Monroeville Gateway (PA) 12

Turnovers turn into touchdowns as Massillon rolls Gateway
Chris Easterling
Oct 11, 2019 11:30 PM

MASSILLON It’s all about the opportunities provided for a football team. More importantly, it’s all about taking advantage those opportunities when they’re presented.

That’s what Massillon did when it faced Gateway (Pa.) on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers turned a blocked punt and three first-half Gator turnovers into 17 points, helping to kick-start them to a 48-12 victory.

“It’s taking advantage of mistakes,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose 7-0 team heads to Barberton next Friday. “That’s really what turnovers are. We came up with a couple and were able to capitalize on them.”

Massillon would end the game with 21 points off four Gateway turnovers in improving to 7-0 on the season. The Tigers recovered two fumbles, while T.J. Williams and Luke Murphy came up with interceptions.

Those turnovers turned into touchdowns turned what was expected to be a tight battle into Massillon’s sixth running-clock game in seven wins. The Tigers had won its first six games each by at least 21 points, while the Gators had outscored their opponents 213-7 over their five-game win streak since their loss to Penn-Trafford on Aug. 30.

Penn-Trafford’s only loss was Massillon’s Week 4 conquest, which is also its closest game of the season at 42-21.

“Going into practice this week, we practiced like any other week,” said Tiger senior linebacker Ben Krichbaum, who had a fumble recovery along with four solo and five assisted tackles. “We don’t really look at the offers guys have. We don’t really care about that type of stuff. We just go into each practice going hard and we carry that out to the game.”

After trading punts to open the game, the Tigers would start to see their chances appear. For Massillon, that first opportunity came on Gateway’s second possession, as it blocked the punt at the Gator 25.

The Tigers would turn their fourth blocked punt in the last three games into their first field goal of the season. Alex Bauer would connect from 25 yards out for a 3-0 Massillon lead with 5:01 left in the first quarter.

Bauer would add a 31-yard field goal to make it 20-0 Massillon with 2:19 remaining in the first half.

Massillon would open up a 17-0 lead in the second quarter thanks to two fumble recoveries on botched Gateway handoffs. The first, recovered at the Gator 35, ended with Terrance Keyes Jr.’s 10-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second quarter.

Keyes would finish with 142 yards on 24 carries. His third touchdown run, a 1-yarder, made it 41-6 with 5:25 remaining.

The second opportunity came up as Gateway was itself trying to capitalize on a Massillon fumble. On a first-and-goal play from the Tiger 2, Krichbaum fell on another missed handoff at the Massillon 4.

Two plays later, the Tigers turned that turnover into an historic touchdown. Aidan Longwell hit a wide-open Jayden Ballard down the right sideline, and Ballard raced for a 95-yard score with 6:16 remaining in the half.

The hookup was the longest pass play in Massillon history. The previous mark was a pair of 89-yard plays, by Jason Stafford (Lee Hurst) against Austintown Fitch in 1988 and Austin Jasinski (from Seth Blankenship) against Dublin Scioto in 2016.

“It was good protection,” Moore said. “A great throw. Aidan trusted it and Jayden did a good job of tracking the ball and made a good catch for us.”

Ballard finished with 145 receiving yards on five catches. Longwell would finish 10-of-21 with 223 yards and two touchdowns, as he added a 59-yard scoring strike to Andrew Wilson-Lamp to make it 34-6 Tigers in the fourth quarter.

The Wilson-Lamp touchdown catch was the third Massillon touchdown off of a Gator turnover. That was after Murphy’s interception.

Gateway would get on the board on the final play of the first half, cutting the deficit to 20-6. Derrick Davis went up and over the pile for a 1-yard scoring run, but the point-after kick was missed.

Davis added a 98-yard touchdown run with four minutes left to make it 41-12 Massillon. That run accounted for 85 percent of the highly-touted junior’s 115 rushing yards on the night.

“We bottled him up pretty good,” Moore said of his defense, which allowed Gateway 288 total yards on 67 plays. “A good job by our guys.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 55, Austintown Fitch 7

Keyes keys yet another Massillon runaway at Fitch

Oct 04, 2019 9:34 PM

AUSTINTOWN Attention has been paid through most of the first half of the season to the way Massillon’s offense can throw the football. A record-setting receiving performance on the opening night and a quarterback rewriting career marks virtually every time out can bring such notoriety.

On Friday night against Austintown Fitch, the Tigers showed they aren’t too bad running the football, either. Especially when Terrance Keyes gets his hands on the football.

With Keyes running wild through the first half, Massillon ran roughshod over the Falcons in a 55-7 victory at Greenwood Chevrolet Falcon Stadium to improve to 6-0 on the season.

“We’ve got a great passing game,” Keyes said. “We just have weapons all over. I just feel like (quarterback) Aidan (Longwell), with him having all the success he’s having in the passing game, I feel like it opens it up a lot for me. The running game, it’s just there. I was rolling today.”

Keyes carried the ball 16 times in the first half for 185 yards, scoring four touchdowns. That included a stretch of 14 plays where the 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior carried it 12 times, the 12th of those a 15-yard run in which he leaped over a Fitch defender at the Falcon 4 on his way to his third score of the night.

Keyes’ fourth touchdown run of the night, a 5-yarder with 2:01 remaining in the first half, gave Massillon a 48-7 lead. It marked the third time the Tigers have hit the 40-point mark in the first half, and the fifth time they played with a running clock in the second half.

“They were staying two high (with the safeties),” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team finished with 264 rushing yards and 423 total yards on the night. “They were giving us great run looks. Our offensive line played really, really well.”

Massillon, which ascended to No. 1 in the Division II state poll this week, will return home next Friday to meet Pennsylvania visitor Gateway. The Gators went into this week’s game against Franklin Regional (Pa.) with its only loss having come in their second game of the season against Penn-Trafford, the team the Tigers beat in Week 4.

Massillon’s starters will go into the Gateway game having spent another second half on the sidelines as its backups played from the start of the third quarter. Of course, it was the starters’ performance which gave them the opportunity to get some more rest.

“I was real pleased with the effort,” Moore said.

It wasn’t just the running game which did it for the Tigers, either. They made plays in seemingly all three phases.

Caiden Woullard’s punt block started Massillon’s first possession at the Fitch 42. The very next play, Aidan Longwell hit Jayden Ballard for a touchdown to make it 7-0 with 9:10 remaining in the first quarter.

Longwell, who was 5-of-7 for 99 yards in the game, also connected on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Wilson-Lamp to make it 34-7 Tiger with 6:52 left in the second quarter. The senior now has 6,155 yards and 68 passing touchdowns in his career, extending both marks.

That was one of two blocked punts the Tigers came up with in the first half. Austin Brawley blocked one which Isaiah Clark picked up inside the Fitch 5 and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown to make it 41-7 with 4:45 remaining in the half.

Fitch’s lone score, a 2-yard Devin Sherwood run to make it 14-7 late in the first quarter, was was partially set up by one of the few first-half miscues by Massillon. The Tigers were called for a personal foul after making a tackle out of bounds after a third-down stop around the Massillon 40 to keep the drive alive.

The Falcons would finish with 167 yards of offense. Of those yards, 123 came on the ground.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 56, Akron Firestone 0

Longwell sets Massillon’s passing mark in rout of Firestone
Chris Easterling
Sep 27, 2019 11:15 PM

MASSILLON With one flick of his left wrist, Aidan Longwell removed any doubt that existed in Massillon’s game Friday night against winless Firestone.

On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, Longwell dropped back and hit Jayden Ballard for a 40-yard touchdown pass. That pass, just 1:59 into the game, gave the Massillon senior quarterback the school’s all-time record for passing yards.

“It’s special,” Longwell said after passing Kyle Kempt as the Tigers’ career passing leader in the 56-0 victory over the Falcons. “I can’t put it into words. Just everything that’s happened at Massillon, all the history behind this program, it’s special to be a part of that.”

Longwell came into the game needing just 31 yards to pass the 6,034 career yards Kempt had compiled from 2010-12. He needed just one throw to pass that mark, the second career record he set in as many weeks after breaking the passing touchdowns mark in Week 4.

That one record-setting throw would be half of Longwell’s output on the night, as he only threw the ball twice – completing both – for 53 yards. His career total now stands at 6,056 yards with still plenty of football to be potentially be played.

“I think it takes a little pressure off,” Longwell said. “Not really for me, I wasn’t really thinking about that stuff. Everybody talking about it, it can be over now.”

There wasn’t much football for Longwell, or any of Massillon’s first-unit players, to play on Friday night against a completely over-matched Firestone team. The Tigers ran just five plays and had the football for just 52 seconds in the first quarter, yet still took a 35-0 lead in that time.

Of Massillon’s five first-quarter plays, three went for touchdowns. Beyond the Longwell-to-Ballard scoring strike, Terrence Keyes and Zion Phifer would each run for scores.

The Tiger special teams would get into the act to help with that lead. Preston Hodges would block and punt and recover it in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

Hodges also had an interception to set up the Tigers’ third touchdown, a 10-yard run by Keyes. It’s the team-high third pick for the senior outside linebacker.

“We want to come out and get better every week,” said Hodges, who was part of a defensive performance which limited Firestone to 45 net yards and three first downs on 28 plays. “We just come out and do our jobs. We play the way we were taught.”

Ballard would add a 87-yard punt return for a touchdown as well to make it 28-0 Tigers. It’s the second time this season Ballard returned a kick or punt for a score, having brought back a kickoff for a touchdown against St. Vincent-St. Mary.

The final two quarters were shortened to just eight minutes after the Tigers took a 49-0 halftime lead. The teams played the final three quarters under a running clock, with the coaches agreeing to start it a quarter earlier than it is required to be implemented.

“They did a good job” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team will take a 5-0 record and a 16-game regular-season win streak into next Friday’s road game at Austintown Fitch. “They came out and took care of business. They played well, executed.”

Phifer and Raekwon Venson added first-half rushing touchdowns for Massillon, which had 158 of its 293 total yards in the first half. Tanner Pierce threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Daymiere Adams in the third quarter.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 42, Penn-Trafford, PA 21

Record-setting night by Aidan Longwell helps Massillon top Penn-Trafford
Chris Easterling
Sep 20, 2019 11:00 PM

MASSILLON There was only record Aidan Longwell cared about as he walked off the Paul Brown Tiger Stadium turf on Friday night. That would be Massillon’s 4-0 record.

The Tigers, though, earned that record in part because of Longwell’s ability to set a new school career passing touchdown mark in their 42-21 victory over previously-undefeated Pennsylvania visitor Penn-Trafford.

“I think a lot of people are trying to pressure us into things this year,” the Massillon senior quarterback said. “We’re overcoming it. We’re just taking it one game at a time and we’re doing a great job of it right now.”

Longwell threw four touchdown passes in the victory, giving him 65 for his career. He broke the old mark of 63 set by Justin Zwick in 2000-01.

His record-tying 63rd career scoring pass, a 54-yard strike to Andrew Wilson-Lamp, gave Massillon a 28-14 lead with 4:10 remaining in the first half. His record-setting strike, an 8-yarder to Jayden Ballard in the front left corner of the end zone as time expired in the half, gave the Tigers a 35-21 halftime lead.

For the game, Longwell was 14-of-15 for 225 yards. He goes into next Friday’s home game against Firestone needing just 31 yards to break Kyle Kempt’s career passing record of 6,034 yards set from 2010-12.

“It’s special, especially at Massillon,” Longwell said of the record. “The quarterbacks and great players who have played here. I just have to give a great shout-out to my offensive line, present and past, and my receivers. Everybody’s kind of balled for me as part of this.”

Penn-Trafford was impressive in turning the game’s first drive into a methodical 17-play, 82-yard scoring drive that took the initial 9:38 off the clock. The Warriors converted all five third downs on the possession, including a 6-yard run by quarterback Gabe Dunlap to give them a 7-0 lead.

Dunlap would prove to be a handful all evening, gaining 90 of the Warriors’ 110 rushing yards, while throwing for 257 yards and two scores. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.

“He’s a field general,” said Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane, whose team falls to 4-1. “He’s an underrated football player. He continually makes plays for us in the passing game, and more importantly, in the run game sometimes. There’s a lot of times where it’s tough to get him down on the sack with one guy, and he kind of showed that tonight.”

The Warriors’ opening possession would be, by far, the longest scoring drive by either team over the duration of the first half. That is, until Massillon put together its half-ending 13-play, 74-yard drive to go up 35-21 at the break.

In between, the Tigers’ other four scoring drives went for a combined 15 plays. Penn-Trafford, meanwhile, scored its other two first-half scores on a combined seven plays.

In the second half, the only scoring drive was Massillon’s 13-play, 49-yard fourth-quarter march which ended with Longwell hitting Anthony Pedro on a 5-yard touchdown pass.

Massillon, which went scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season, would score the game-tying touchdown on the first play off the second quarter on Zion Phifer’s 3-yard run. Then, one play after stopping the Warriors on a fourth-down play, Longwell and Ballard hooked up for a 30-yard touchdown pass to go in front 14-7 with 9:54 remaining in the first half.

The Tigers would lead 21-7 on Terrence Keyes’ 8-yard touchdown run with 7:32 remaining in the half. They would also open up 14-point first-half leads on Longwell’s record-tying and record-setting scoring passes at 28-14 and 35-21.

Penn-Trafford used a pair of big pass plays to stay within reach. A 64-yard catch-and-run by Ethan Carr on a fourth-down pass from Dunlap cut it to 21-14, while Mason Frye’s 77-yard catch set up Dunlap’s 3-yard run to make it 28-21 Tiger lead with 3:55 remaining in the half.

The Warriors, who had 253 yards at halftime, had just 114 yards in the final two quarters.

“We really did a good job, in a lot of ways, in the first half,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said of his defense. “We just had to make the plays that are there.”

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2019: Massillon 49, Warren Harding 7

Start doesn’t slow down Massillon dominance at Warren
Chris Easterling
Sep 13, 2019 9:49 PM

WARREN It’s never about the start. It’s always about the finish.

Or, more importantly, it’s about the final score.

Massillon found itself in its first deficit of the season after Warren Harding turned a literal bad bounce on a punt eventually into a first-quarter touchdown on Friday night at Mollenkopf Stadium. However, by the time the Tigers went into the locker room for halftime, they had once again established control of things.

By the time Massillon got on the buses to head back to Stark County, it had put together its third consecutive win to open the season, this time a 49-7 victory over Warren Harding at Mollenkopf Stadium.

“We’ve been preparing ourselves for adversity since December, since January,” said senior Preston Hodges, whose 48-yard interception return with 39 seconds left in the half gave Massillon a 28-7 lead. “Since when we were in the offseason working out, grinding. We’re prepared for the adversity to hit us at any point. We just knew we had to bounce back.”

The game was called with 3:12 remaining as lightning began to flash around the stadium. At that point, it was all academic for the Tigers, who take a 3-0 record into next Friday’s home game against Penn-Trafford out of Monroeville, Pa.

All three of Massillon’s wins have been running-clock situations in the fourth quarter. Although it took the Tigers a moment to get up and running that way on Friday night.

“We faced some adversity and came through it,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team faced a 7-0 deficit after Warren turned a punt recovery into a 35-yard touchdown pass from Eliah Taylor to Ty Artis with 10:10 left in the first quarter. “So, I’m proud of the guys staying true to what got us here and to keep working. I thought we played well.”

Even after the quick Warren score, Massillon still needed to get its footing. However, it would turn to the defense first to get a stop to get the ball rolling.

Warren’s defense then forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ first offensive possession. The Raiders would take the ball on a 14-play, 38-yard journey to the Massillon 33, but turned the ball over on down there.

That’s when the Tigers would catch fire. They would turn their next three possessions into touchdowns – two Zion Phifer runs and a 9-yard Aidan Longwell-to-Jayden Ballard pass – and a 21-7 lead, while their fourth would reach the Warren 20 before a sack and an incomplete pass on fourth down halted the march.

That proved to be no real problem for Massillon, as Hodges stepped in front of a Warren pass at the Raider 48 and raced all the way to the end zone for a Tiger touchdowns. The point-after kick made it 28-7 Massillon with 39 seconds remaining in the half.

Hodges was part of a Tiger defense which limited Warren to just 27 yards on its final 15 first-half plays. The Raiders would finish the game with 160 yards on 49 plays.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” Moore said of the defense. “I thought all three levels played well. Obviously, we’ll get in there and watch the film and all that stuff, but we feel really proud of the guys and their effort.”

The Tiger offense, meanwhile, found its groove both through the air and on the ground after the initial three-and-out. By the half, Longwell had completed 11-of-18 passes for 162 yards and the one score.

Longwell would finish the game 15-of-20 for 200 yards and two touchdowns, moving him within two scoring passes of the career record. He hit Ballard for a 19-yard touchdown strike to make it 35-7 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.

Ballard had seven catches for 94 yards and two scores.

Meanwhile, after netting one yard on its first two runs, Massillon gained 46 yards on its final 12 carries of the half. Both Phifer, who scored on two of his five first-half carries, and Terrence Keyes shared the duties.

Keyes would gain 63 of his 96 yards on his third-quarter touchdown run which gave Massillon a 42-7 lead. Hodges added 50 yards on just five carries, while Phifer finished with 32 yards on six totes.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE