Tag: <span>Austin Jasinski</span>


2016: Massillon 21, Dublin Scioto 31

Tigers’ mistakes, lack of consistency spell early exit from playoffs vs. Scioto

By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON One step forward, two steps back. Where that left Massillon by the end of Friday night was on the wrong end of the scoreboard and looking at an early playoff exit. The Tigers couldn’t maintain a consistent offense, and couldn’t consistently slow down Dublin Scioto in a season-ending 31-21 loss in a Division II Region 7 quarterfinal at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“We would something good and make a good play – and this was both sides of the ball – and then we would turn the ball over or make an uncharacteristic mistake,” said Jon Mazur, who was serving as Massillon’s acting head coach as Nate Moore served a playoff suspension.

“We’d have a missed block or a missed tackle or a guy jumping offsides. We just did a lot of things, and when you’re playing this level of football in the playoffs, everybody’s good and you can’t beat good teams making those mistakes.”

As Moore watched from the east press box, his team struggled to maintain many of the things which had epitomized its success during a seven-game win streak to end the regular season. Instead of advancing to a regional-semifinal matchup with New Albany, the Tigers bow out at 8-3.

The Massillon run game, which was the bread-and-butter of the offense, had forgettable bookends to the season. The Tigers ran for just 142 yards on 40 total carries, the lowest total since only gaining 90 yards in the season-opening loss to Mentor.

“Our defense, I don’t know what to call it, but it’s been a very strong unit all year,” Scioto coach Karl Johnson said after his team improved to 8-3. “We’ve been very good against the run most of the year. We needed to put the offense with it, and we were able to do that.”

The centerpiece of that offense was a running game that gashed Massillon for big yards when it needed it most. The Irish ran for 253 yards on 39 attempts, the most rushing yards gained against the Tigers since Warren Harding ran for 359 yards in what was their last loss of the season.

Scioto finished with 400 yards of offense, while only turning the ball over once. The Irish, meanwhile, turned three Massillon turnovers into a touchdown and a field goal.

“The game, any game, is going to come down to explosive plays, third-down conversions and turnover margins,” Johnson said. “We probably won all of those tonight”.

That’s why we were able to win this game. Scioto didn’t lead at any point until one of those explosive plays – a 65-yard Jared Nolan run gave it a 21-14 lead 36 seconds into the second quarter. The Irish took the lead for good on a 25-yard Noah Densel pass to Weston Talentino with 11:04 remaining to make it 28-21.
Massillon’s offense came down to the passing game primarily. The Tigers scored on their first play – a school-record 89-yard Austin Jasinski catch-and-run from Seth Blankenship – for a 7-0 lead.

The Tigers also took a 14-7 lead on a Blankenship-to-Austin Kutscher 14-yard pass with 2:43 left in the first quarter. They would tie the game at 21-21 when Jasinski caught his second touchdown of the game, a 55-yarder with 8:58 remaining. Blankenship finished 7-of-15 for 203 yards with the three touchdowns and one interception. Jasinski had four of those catches and 168 of the yards.

Massillon wouldn’t score again. The Tigers had a pair of field goals blocked: a 25-yarder in the third quarter which would have given them the lead, and a 21-yarder in the fourth which would have pulled them within seven with 4:41 left.

“They did a good job of stopping the run or slowing the run down,” said Mazur, who also saw the Tigers flagged a season-high 14 times for 120 yards. “We were able to lean on the pass early and hit some big plays. In the second half, when we moved the ball and moved it down the field, we got stopped. We weren’t able to come up with the big play, whether it was in the pass or the run. We didn’t make the big play when we needed to in the second half.”



2016: Massillon 21, Canton McKinley 19

Tigers battle adversity, bring back victory bell

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON Nothing seemed too easy for Massillon on Saturday afternoon.

The yards – and the points – didn’t quite come as effortlessly as they had in other games. McKinley, conversely, moved the ball as well as any Tiger opponent had moved it on them in weeks. Nothing, though, is supposed to be easy about a game between archrivals Massillon and McKinley. That’s why the wins are celebrated as heartily as they are, as was the case after the Tigers’ 21-19 win over the Bulldogs in front of roughly 14,000 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“That’s a Massillon-McKinley game,” Tiger defensive lineman Malcolm Robinson said. “The thing that won this game for us was that we pulled for each other until the last minute and the last seconds of the last quarter. That’s what this Massillon Tiger football team does. When you do that, you win football games.”

Massillon will now take an 8-2 record into the Division II playoffs, which will start next Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers, who will be the No. 2 seed, will face No. 7 seed Dublin Scioto, although the official pairings won’t be set until Sunday.

The record will show the winning points for Massillon came on a 10-yard run by Keyshawn Watson – who was making his season debut – with 10:05 remaining. That gave the Tigers a 21-13 advantage. It will also show McKinley had multiple chances to make things even more difficult on Massillon than it already was. The Bulldogs pulled within 21-19 on a 4-yard Dominique Robinson run less than a minute after Watson’s run.

Having already had a point-after kick blocked, McKinley went for the 2-point conversion to try and tie the game. That attempt was fumbled, keeping the Tigers in front by two.

“We were chasing that point from early in the game,” McKinley coach Dan Reardon said after his team fell to 6-4 heading into the Division I Region 1 playoffs. “We had to go for two, and we didn’t get it. When you get behind by a PAT or whatever, you’re always chasing it. That was the difference.”

Likewise, McKinley’s subsequent – and final – drive offered a chance to not just tie, but take the lead. However, a 37-yard field goal try with 4:32 left was pushed right, keeping Massillon ahead.

“It’s all about the brotherhood,” Tiger senior linebacker Jacob Risher said. “We all do it for the guy next to us. We all wanted it as bad as the other, and we pulled through.”

McKinley, despite an afternoon in which it gained 339 offensive yards, never saw a chance to change the score after that. That’s because Massillon milked the rest of the clock by running it nine straight times to end the game. That running game was boosted by the return of Watson, who had missed the first nine games due to
being academically ineligible. The junior, who rushed for 1,000 yards a year ago, gained 167 yards on 31 attempts and scored the Tigers’ final touchdown.
Watson’s effort helped Massillon run for 261 yards on 54 carries as a team. It was Watson’s 35-yard run – with an additional 15 tacked on for a McKinley personal foul – which moved Massillon from secondand-7 at its own 5 to first-and-10 at the Bulldog 45.

That drive, which included a 9-yard Jamir Thomas run on fourth-and-1, culminated in Watson’s scoring run.

“We knew Keyshawn was a good football player,” said Tiger quarterback Seth Blankenship, whose only two completions on the day were a pair of touchdown passes to Austin Jasinski. “We knew he had to change to get back out there. Once he fixed that up, it’s was just Keyshawn being Keyshawn. He didn’t lose any form, because we made him work himself back into it.”

McKinley, which had come into the game having scored just one offensive touchdown in its previous two games, scored one in each of the first two quarters to take a 13-7 halftime lead. The Bulldogs picked up a 79-yard Robinson-to-Prayer Wise touchdown in the first quarter to pull within 7-6, then a 12-yard Robinson run with 9:33 left in the half to take the lead.

The Bulldogs threw virtually everything at Massillon, from Reggie Corner getting his first four rushing attempts of the season – for 62 yards – to a formation where backup quarterback Alijah Curtis lined up by himself behind center, with everyone else lined up in a swinging-gate-like look.

That’s how seven of McKinley’s 11 possessions were able to reach Massillon territory. However, an interception and a fumble lost ended two drives, while the Bulldogs also failed to convert on fourth and-1 at the Tiger 22.

“It was nuts,” Risher said. “All the formations they ran, it was not on film. We watch a ton and a ton and a ton of film. We had to read our keys, learn on the go and we got the job done.”

That’s why, despite all the adversity, the Tigers were ringing the Victory Bell in joy when the game came to an end.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 41, Columbus Beechcroft 19

Blankenship throws 5 Tds to beat Beechcroft

By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

Massillon has been a run-first football team this season. That doesn’t mean the Tigers haven’t enjoyed airing it out as well.

On Friday night, Massillon took to the air to take the air out of Beechcroft’s hopes for an undefeated season. The Tigers rode five Seth Blankenship touchdown passes to a 41-19 win over the Cougars at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Blankenship completed 13-of-17 passes for 258 yards on the night. The five touchdowns represent a career high for the senior quarterback.

“He’s our field general,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team won its fourth in a row to improve to 5-2. “He’s really grown as a quarterback and a leader of our football team over the course of the season. The kids believe in him; our coaching staff believes in him. He led our team to victory tonight.”

Blankenship hit Austin Jasinski for a first-quarter touchdown strike of 68 yards and a second-quarter scoring pass of 47 yards. The latter gave Massillon the lead for good at 14-12 with 7:48 remaining in the half.

Jasinski finished with just the two catches for 115 yards.

With that Austin having made an impact, Blankenship elected to give another Austin – Kutscher – a chance to shine. He would connect with the junior to close out the last two second-quarter possessions on scoring passes of 31 and 45.

The latter provided Massillon with a 28-12 lead with 13 seconds remaining in the first half.

Kutscher finished with a game-high six catches for 107 yards.

“Austin Kutscher took advantage of some man-to-man situations, press situations,” Moore said. “He showed what he could do for us. We were getting nine guys in the box, so that had to happen.”

Kutscher wasn’t the only Tiger to have a big night when maybe it wasn’t expected. Sophomore running back Louis Partridge, getting a bulk of the carries due to Jamir Thomas sitting out the game due to injury, rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 27 carries.

Partridge didn’t find the end zone. But he did continue to show the growth he has undergone over the four-game win streak.

“He’s still got a lot to learn, but he runs hard,” Moore said of Partridge. “He runs hard and he picked up a lot of key yards for us.”

What made those first-half touchdowns even more clutch for the Tigers – and crippling for the Cougars – was the timing. The first three scores all came in third-and-long situations.

The initial scoring pass to Jasinski, which gave Massillon a 7-6 lead, came on third-and-7. The second Jasinski touchdown catch was on third-and-15 play, two snaps after a chop block moved the Tigers out of Beechcroft territory.

The third Tiger touchdown – the 31-yard pass to Kutscher – came on third-and-17. Just the play before, Massillon lost seven yards on a sack.

The Tigers were 6-of-8 on third-down conversions in the first half. They finished the game 8-of-14 on third down.
The final third-down conversion for Massillon was Blankenship’s final touchdown toss, a 2-yarder to Edwin Glick for a 41-19 lead with 5:29 remaining.

“They were putting nine guys in the box and we were still trying to pound the rock up in there,” Moore said. “We were beating our heads against the wall a little bit and we had to make some adjustments, maybe not really adjustments but execution. We had to force the ball down the field to get them out of it.”

Beechcroft, meanwhile, had its own third-down successes early on. The Cougars’ opening-drive score was set up by a 43-yard catch-and-run by Datrey Long to the Tiger 16.

Two plays later, quarterback Kyle Barrett scored on a 1-yard run for a 6-0 Beechcroft lead 3:03 into the game.

Beechcroft took a 12-7 lead with 8:37 remaining in the first half on a third-down touchdown pass from Barrett to Tre Parks of 22 yards. The Cougars missed the two-point try.

Barrett would throw one more touchdown pass, a 53-yarder to Long with 5:13 remaining in the third to make it 31-19 Tigers. Barrett finished 15-of-26 for 263 yards passing, with Long catching six of those for 139 yards.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 38, Austintown Fitch 21

Tigers ditches Fitch
Strong second half helps Massillon snap three game skid vs. Falcons

By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON The power of three.

Massillon came into Friday night’s home game against Austintown Fitch looking for their first three-game win streak since the first half of the 2014 season. To achieve that feat, however, the Tigers were going to have to take care of another three-game win streak.

The Falcons’ three-game win streak over Massillon.

Nobody said accomplishing that feat would be easy. But the Tigers were able to do it, scoring the game’s final 21 points to rally for a 38-21 win over Fitch.

“We have great kids who play hard,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “That’s really the bottom line there. They played hard tonight for 48 minutes and came out with a win against a good team.”

The Tigers are now 4-2 on the season. Massillon will look for its first four-game win streak since starting the 2014 season 5-0 next Friday night when it plays host to undefeated Columbus Beechcroft.

If there was one major concern to emerge from the game, it was the health of two key players: Jamir Thomas and Malcolm Robinson. Thomas suffered a leg injury late in the first quarter and didn’t return, while Robinson appeared to injure his ankle with less than two minutes left.

Moore didn’t know the extent of their injuries beyond Friday night.

In Thomas’ place stepped Kordell Ford and Louis Partridge, both of whom were huge in the second-half rally after Fitch went ahead 21-17 with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter. Partridge’s 2-yard run with :28 left in the third gave Massillon the lead for good at 24-21.

That run was set up when Jesse King recovered a Fitch fumble at the Tiger 32. It was one of two Falcon turnovers.

Ford then scored on fourth-quarter runs of 44 and 5 to help provide a cushion for the Tigers. He would finish with a team-high 88 yards on 14 carries.

Partridge had 77 yards on 18 totes. The Tigers rushed for 285 yards as a team on 51 attempts.

Massillon’s first drive was virtually a thing of perfection, giving it a 7-0 lead. The Tigers used 13 plays to go 68 yards, capping the drive with a 1-yard Thomas touchdown run with 6:54 left in the quarter.

The Tigers had a 77-yard fake-punt touchdown by Austin Jasinski negated by a personal foul flag on their next drive. They would still get to the Fitch 2, but lost a net of 13 yard on the next three plays to settle for a 32-yard Nate Gregg field goal for a 10-0 lead with :32 left in the first quarter.

The change of quarters seemed to change both team’s fortunes. Fitch would get a pair of stops while adding two Randy Smith 2-yard touchdown runs for a 14-10 lead with 3:58 left in the half.

The Falcons, who had minus-3 net offensive yards in the first quarter, had 146 second quarter yards on 15 plays. That includes 6-of-8 passing by Nate Fowler in the quarter for an even 100 yards.

Fitch finished with 284 yards. One thing the Falcons did well for the first three quarters was catch Massillon adjusting defensively by breaking the huddle with less than :15 on the play clock and sprinting to the line and snapping the ball.

Once the Tigers started to neutralize that over the last quarter or so, they were able to slow down the Falcon momentum.

“We just kind of simplified everything,” Moore said. “We were having a little trouble with as fast as they were going from huddle to the line of scrimmage to the snap. We basically just simplified some things.”

It would be a Fitch mistake that would help give the Tigers a 17-14 halftime lead. A roughing the passer flag against the Falcons on a third-and-9 incomplete pass put the Tigers on the Fitch 41.

Five Partridge runs – the last a 5-yarder – would put Massillon into the end zone with :51 left in the half. Partridge, who came on with 7:47 left in the second quarter after Thomas left with the injury, rushed for 64 yards on 10 first-half carries.

Fitch took the lead at 21-17 when it marched 55 yards in eight plays on the first possession of the second half. Smith’s third touchdown run, a 5-yarder, provided the margin.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 75, Toledo Bowsher 7


Score 54 in first half en route to rout

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON Massillon’s first play Friday night went for a touchdown. By the time the Tigers ran a second play, the rout of visiting Bowsher was well underway.

Offense, defense, special teams, it didn’t matter against the winless and overmatched Rebels.

Massillon scored in all three phases – in the first quarter alone – in rolling to a 75-7 blowout at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“We came out and did what we’re supposed to do,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team will take a 3-2 record into next week’s home game against Austintown Fitch. “Proud of our kids for doing that. It’s on to next week and looking at Fitch.”

It was the most points scored in a game by Massillon since a 2014 77-13 win over St. John’s Collegiate out of Canada. It’s the most scored against a team from the United States since a 76-6 win over Fremont Ross in 2002.

After stopping Bowsher on the game’s opening drive, Massillon needed just one play – a 74-yard Seth Blankenship-to-Austin Jasinski pass – to take a 7-0 lead. That score would come with 8:59 left in the first quarter.

Just over four minutes later, the Tigers would run their second offensive play. In between those two plays, Kordell Ford would bring an interception back 75 yards for a score and Jasinski would bring a punt back 80 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-0 Massillon.

Such was the kind of night it was for the Tigers, who rolled up a 54-7 halftime lead. Massillon would score every time it touched the ball in that span, a total of six first-half possessions.

The Tigers had 299 total yards on just 23 first-half plays. They would finish with 424 yards on 45 plays.

The rout was so lopsided by that point that not only was a running clock in effect for the second half, but the quarters were reduced to just 10 minutes each.

By that point, however, the night had been long over for most of Massillon’s starters. But what a night it was, especially in the passing game.

Blankenship threw the ball just four times in just over a quarter of work. All four passes were completed for touchdowns totaling 156 yards.

“He’s doing a nice job,” Moore said of Blankenship, who had thrown for 386 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two weeks combined.

Aidan Longwell, the only other Tiger quarterback to throw the ball, was 2-for-2 for 36 yards.

That included a 5-yard touchdown to Jared Slutz.

Three of those passes went to Jasinski, who accumulated 140 yards on those catches. That gives him nine catches for 286 yards and five scores over the last two weeks.

“He’s really fast and he catches the football,” Moore said of Jasinski. “He’s a good player.”

The other touchdown pass was a 16-yard pass to Ethen Jefferson in the first quarter. That came on Massillon’s third offensive play to make it 27-0 after the point-after kick.

Louis Partridge handled a bulk of the rushing with the Tiger first unit. He carried it 16 times for 92 yards and scored his first two varsity touchdowns.

Defensively, meanwhile, Massillon picked back up where it left off in last week’s shutout of Ursuline. The Tigers limited Bowsher to minus-6 rushing yards on 16 first-half carries while forcing four turnovers, two of which were interceptions by Ford.

Bowsher finished with 109 total yards, 106 of those coming in the first half. The Rebels turned the ball over six times.

Of the Rebels’ 112 passing yards, 60 went to talented receiver and University of Toledo recruit Bryce Mitchell on four catches. Mitchell also provided Bowsher’s lone first-half score with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

That score, though, simply made it a 34-7 Massillon lead 1:50 into second quarter. Less than a minute later, though, Jasinski’s second scoring catch pushed the margin to 40-7 with still 9:23 left until the band show.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 30, Youngstown Ursuline 0

Massillon moves on

All-around winning performance propels Tigers past Ursuline in Warren

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

WARREN – Massillon football teams have made plenty of bus trips home from Warren over the years. Some have been enjoyable; others, not so much. Saturday, the Tigers made yet another of those bus rides home from Mollenkopf Stadium.

Massillon coach Nate Moore didn’t even need to get on the bus to know into which category it would fall.

“It’ll be a great bus ride home,” Moore said after his team defeated Ursuline 30-0 Saturday in Warren.

For the Tigers, the trip away from Warren was both literal and figurative. It was literal in the sense that they were leaving the locale and going home.

It was figurative in the sense that, after a week of hearing about their performance in a Week 3 loss to Warren Harding, Massillon was ready to move on and take care of the next challenge on the schedule.

That, as much as anything else, was what made the performance so satisfying to so many wearing the white helmets with Obie logo on the side.

“The kids came out and played well,” Moore said. “At times, really. … Offense, defense, special teams played a good game today.”

That performance has Massillon in position to close out the first half of the regular season right where it wants to be, with a winning record. The Tigers evened their mark at 2-2 with the win, and now return home for the first of six consecutive home games this Friday night against Bowsher. The Rebels will come to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium a far, far cry from the kind of team Massillon has faced over its first four games. They are 0-4 and have lost their last three games by an average of almost 37 points a game.

The Tigers insist they aren’t overlooking a team they beat by 30 a year ago. However, they also know this is a chance to build off what they did Saturday against Ursuline.

“We needed to win this week (at Ursuline),” Moore said. “We need to win next week, just like we need to win every week. The coaches will spend just as much time game-planning Bowsher; we’ll spend just as much time on the practice field trying to get better.”

Massillon’s coaches had insisted that they had improved over the course of the first three games going into the Ursuline game, despite losing two of its first three games. Saturday’s win provided the on-the-scoreboard evidence to back up those claims to the Doubting Thomases around.

Nowhere was that proof more evident than defensively, when the Tigers took steps to quiet some of the critics who claimed they couldn’t stop the run. Ursuline came in as a team that thrives on running the football.

On Saturday, Massillon’s defense silenced that Irish running game. The Tigers limited Ursuline to just 69 yards on 28 attempts, an average of 2.5 yards per carry. Even better for Massillon was the fact that it gave up none of the big rushing plays which had plagued it in losses to Mentor and Warren. The longest Irish run was nine yards. Ursuline, which did have three first-half drives inside Tiger territory, managed just 143 total yards.

Of those 61 came on the Irish’s final first-half drive, which ended at the Tiger 2 when Massillon came up with one of three its fourth-down stops.

“I think defensive line-wise we did a good job,” Moore said. “We’re playing through some injuries at linebacker. We had some guys step up big-time today and play well in spots where they hadn’t played before. A good overall team effort.”

It wasn’t just the defense, either. The offense returned to a balance that it didn’t necessarily have over the first three games, while also not turning the ball over for the first time since a loss to Ursuline in Week 7 of the 2014 season. Massillon continued to run the football well, gaining 166 yards on 43 carries. Jamir Thomas once again led the way with 75 yards on 14 carries, which was significantly down from the 30-plus attempts he had posted in the previous two games.

However, along with that running game, the Tigers showed they’re more than capable of beating a team through the air as well. Seth Blankenship completed 15-of-23 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns. Blankenship’s 66-yard second-quarter strike to Austin Jasinski staked Massillon to a 7-0 halftime lead.

His 20-yard touchdown pass to Jasinski two plays into the fourth quarter closed out the scoring. In between, the senior threw two third-quarter scoring strikes that helped the Tigers turn a close game into a rout. He had a 37-yard pass to Marcus Perrin and a 12-yarder to Austin Kuscher.

“It wasn’t anything different,” Moore said of Blankenship’s performance. “It’s just (quarterbacks coach Brett) Cooper getting back to the drawing board, working on fundamentals. Seth just believed in the play calls. Coach Cooper just did a great job mixing up the run and the pass. I thought we were pretty balanced.”

The all-around team performance also had help from the special teams. That didn’t just include Nate Gregg’s 27-yard field goal which gave Massillon a 10-0 third-quarter lead. The Tigers’ 23-point second half was almost exclusively set up by special-teams plays.

They recovered a fumbled pooch kick at the Irish 37, which set up Perrin’s touchdown catch to make it 16-0. An onside kick recovery after that score set up Jasinski’s second touchdown catch. There was a little longer wait between recovery and score there due to a 30-minute lightning delay.

“We really got some momentum there with those two fumble recoveries on special teams,” Moore said. “(Special teams coordinator Jason) Jarvis does a great job and we put the ball in some spots where we had a chance to recover if they weren’t handled correctly. They weren’t and our kids were opportunistic and jumped on it and got those balls recovered. That carried us with some momentum.”

Momentum which carried over to a happy bus ride home from Warren.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 24, Canton Glenoak 21


Massillon powers past GlenOak with big rally

By Chris Easterling
Massillon Sports Editor

PLAIN TWP. The year was 2010. Massillon traveled to GlenOak trying to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2004.

The Tigers fell into a two-touchdown hole in the first quarter. However, they would dig deep and rally to win a hard-fought game over the Golden Eagles.

Fast forward to Thursday night. Massillon once again traveled to Bob Commings Field trying to avoid that 0-2 start.

Once again, the Tigers fell in a two-touchdown first-quarter deficit. Yet, once again, they avoided staying winless by rallying for a 24-21 win over the Golden Eagles.

“It’s what we do,” said quarterback Seth Blankenship, whose 31-yard touchdown pass to Austin Jasinski with 7:57 left in the third quarter gave Massillon the lead for good at 24-21. “A Massillon Tiger never folds, no matter what. That’s what it’s been like since Massillon football started. We weren’t going to put our heads down; we were going to fight until the clock hit zeroes.”

The go-ahead touchdown to Jasinski was set up by his own 55-yard punt return to the Golden Eagle 14. A personal foul penalty on Massillon moved to ball back to the 31, where it was 3rd and-27 before the go-ahead touchdown.

Jasinski also helped set up a pair of first-half touchdowns with runs to the GlenOak 2. Both of those scores, however, came on the subsequent plays by Jamir Thomas.

The first 2-yard run made it 14-6 after the point-after kick was missed on the final play of the first quarter. The second pulled Massillon within 21-13 with 6:18 remaining in the first half.

That Thomas had both scores shouldn’t have been surprising. The sophomore was the power running threat Massillon was looking for, gaining 105 yards on 27 carries, including 47 on seven carries on the game-sealing drive to end the game.

“I feel like we did a really good job tonight (blocking) instead of other nights,” said left guard Chris Anthony, who helped the Tigers rush for 151 yards as a team. “Coach (Jon) Mazur, our offensive line coach, really puts an emphasis on, dn’t be perfect, but be physical. Out-physical them. Even if you make a mistake, make sure you do it 100 percent rather than being perfect and getting blown off the ball.”

The first half, at least the first quarter-plus of it, that was GlenOak who was getting that accomplished. Particularly on third down with quarterback Tate Rhoads.

Rhoads picked up 50 yards on three third-down runs on the first possession of the game. That included a 12-yard touchdown run that gave GlenOak a 7-0 lead with 8:45 left in the first quarter.

On the Golden Eagles’ first drive of the second quarter, Rhoads kept a drive alive with a 16-yard run on third-and-12. Two plays later, Elijah Ladson’s 26-yard touchdown run made it 21-7 GlenOak 1:34 into the quarter.

Rhoads left the game at halftime after suffering a shoulder injury. He rushed for a team-high 79 yards on six carries. The Golden Eagles finished with 171 rushing yards and 220 total yards.

That Golden Eagle offense would only have five second-half first downs, four on their final drive. That drive ended on downs at the Massillon 26 with 2:52 left.

“We just all had to do what we’re coaching to do,” said Tiger linebacker Jacob Risher, whose interception set up a 31-yard Nate Gregg field goal to pull Massillon with 21-17 with 2:56 left in the first half. “We just have to do the keys we’re taught to play. … I’ll do anything for these guys next to me, and they’ll do anything for.”

GlenOak’s longest scoring play in building a 21-16 halftime lead actually came from its defense.

Tay Pryor stepped in front of a pass on Massillon’s second offensive play and returned it 39 yards for a score and a 14-0 Golden Eagle lead with 8:02 left in the first quarter.

That was one of three interceptions by the GlenOak defense, two of which came on Massillon’s first two drives.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 31, Mentor 57

Tigers gut through humbling opener

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MENTOR Mentor’s running game against Massillon’s passing attack. Just like everyone would’ve thought it would have been entering Friday night’s opener.

That Cardinal running game – as well as too big a hole to crawl out of – proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome in a 57-31 loss to Mentor at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.

“We got started too late,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team trailed 36-7 with 9:28 left in the third quarter before cutting the deficit to as close as 12 in the fourth quarter. “That’s a really good football team. … We just took too long to get things going.”

Much of the attention around Mentor’s high-powered offense had centered around its passing game. Quarterback Tadas Tatarunas was coming off a sophomores season where threw for over 2,900 yards.

Gone from that offense was a 1,900-yard rusher in Alex Matthews. Apparently, no one told the Cardinals that was supposed to mean they couldn’t run the football.
Mentor jumped out to a 13-7 lead just 2:05 into the season in large part because Matthews’ replacement, Isaiah Gullick, rushed for 113 yards on his first four carries. That included a 2-yard scoring run on the fourth play of the first drive of the season, and a 78-yard touchdown scamper on the second play of the second drive.

Gullick would finish with 238 yards on 21 carries. He added a pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs and a touchdown on a screen pass.

“I told you he was pretty good,” Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno said of Gullick. “… You’ve got to bide your time. He didn’t complain (waiting to play) and he worked hard.”

In between Mentor’s first two scores of the night was Massillon’s biggest first-half offensive highlight: a 73-yard touchdown pass from Seth Blankenship to Austin Jasinski on the Tigers’ first play. That, following Nate Gregg’s point-after kick, gave Massillon a 7-6 lead just 1:28 into the season.

That was the teaser to a spectacular night for Jasinski, who finished with 222 receiving yards and three scores on 15 catches. He also helped key Massillon’s rally from 36-7 down to within 36-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the third with two interceptions.

“If there’s a silver lining, Austin played an unbelievable game,” Moore said.

Just as big was the fact the Tiger offense gift-wrapped a pair of first-half Mentor scores. The first came directly when Will Laganke picked up a Massillon fumble and raced 65 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 Cardinal lead with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter.

The second was more indirectly: Laganke’s interception on the second play of the second quarter brought the ball back to the Massillon 5. The Tiger defense was able to bow its back, but Mentor still ended up kicking a 22-yard field goal for a 23-7 lead with 9:50 left in the half.

“The turnovers hurt us,” Moore said.

That defensive effort was indicative of the way the Tigers were able to settle in after the initial two drives for much of a stretch between Mentor’s initial two drives and the fourth quarter.

Massillon, after giving up 140 yards on the first six Cardinal plays, limited them to just 66 on the next 17.

Tatarunas, the highly-touted junior, was held to just 2-of-10 passing for 16 yards in the first half. However, there is a caveat to all of that.

On its final first-half play, Mentor picked up 90 yards on a Logan Shea-to-Ryan Hagan scoring pass. Shea took a reverse handoff and hit the wide-open Hagan for a touchdown – on 3rd-and-15 – for a 29-7 lead with 1:14 remaining in the half.

Shea would then make it 36-7 with a 47-yard catch and run after Massillon missed a tackle. That helped Tatarunas finish with 137 yards on 5-of-16 passing.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2015: Massillon 49, Youngstown Ursuline 18

Hurst shifts to receiver, Blankenship QB in win

Independent sports editor

MASSILLON It was just the kind of game Massillon was looking for. Just the kind of home cooking the Tigers needed to leave themselves feeling much better about things.

After an up-and-down quarter-and-a-half, Massillon turned things on midway through the second quarter and gradually pulled away from Ursuline for a 49-18 win at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday night.

“It felt really good,” Tiger coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 3-4. “Our kids, they played hard. They played with effort, but they also played well, which has not always happened. They executed and all that stuff. It was a great team victory.”

The Tigers have won two in a row at home, and two out of their last three overall. They return to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium next week when Cincinnati Mount Healthy visits.

They will do so a different-looking team on offense.

Massillon’s offense was looking for a spark of some sort to jolt it back into rhythm after last week’s loss at Austintown Fitch. It may have found it by shifting Lee Hurst II from quarterback to receiver while handing Seth Blankenship the keys to the offense at quarterback full-time.

On the very first play of the game, Blankenship hit Hurst for an 8-yard gain. The bigger gain, though, came with four minutes left in the first half, when Blankenship connected with Hurst for a 37-yard touchdown pass to put Massillon ahead 21-12.

It was one of three first-half touchdown passes for Blankenship, who was 12-of 17 for 204 in the game. He completed a 31-yarder to Austin Jasinski for a 14-12 lead; the strike to Hurst for a 21-12 lead; and a 24-yarder on fourth-and-18 to Montrell Stevens to make it 28-12 with 1:07 left in the half.

In the third quarter, Blankenship hit Hurst on a slip screen, which the latter turned into a 19-yard touchdown for a 35-18 Tiger lead. Hurst finished the game with 81 yards and the two touchdowns on five catches.

“Lee played great,” Moore said. “He had two touchdowns, one way down the field and one on the screen where he broke some tackles. We’re really proud of him.”
Massillon also was proud of its continued defensive improvement during the last few weeks.

The Tigers allowed Ursuline to manage 304 total yards, 190 of which came in the first half.

“Our ends played really well,” said Moore, whose team forced three turnovers, including two interceptions by Kordell Ford. “They played head-first defensively. We were reading our keys and getting off blocks.”

Ursuline came into the game happy to have running back Kimauni Johnson back after he had left last week’s loss with an injury. On the Irish’s second play – their first one was picked off by Ford to set up a Massillon score – Johnson raced 80 yards for a touchdown to pull them within 7-6.

Johnson rushed for 150 yards on 13 first-half carries. However, a shoulder injury in the second quarter knocked him out of the game.

Other than Johnson, though, Massillon’s defense did a solid job in limiting the Irish to just field goals in the first half. Those field goals – of 26- and 27-yards – did give Ursuline a 12-7 lead with 8:59 left before halftime.

Ursuline’s only other touchdown came on a very short field after a Massillon fumble at its own 3. One play later, the Irish scored to make it 28-18 with 9:56 left in the third.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2015: Massillon 6, Austintown Fitch 7

Offense tough to come by, but Tigers can’t capitalize on chances in defeat to Falcons

By Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

AUSTINTOWN Massillon tried a little bit of everything to get its offense going Friday night at Austintown Fitch.

The Tigers shuffled players and formations, all trying to provide just the right spark. However, they were unable to find the exact recipe to get things jump-started in what turned into a 7-6 loss to the Falcons at Greenwood Chevrolet Falcon Stadium.

“We couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team fell to 2-4. “We have to get back to work this week. We need to get those things fixed.”

Massillon finished with 186 yards of offense. Both Lee Hurst II – who started the game – and Seth Blankenship had moments at quarterback for the Tigers, with Hurst rushing for a team high 52 yards, while Blankenship was 5-of-9 passing for 69 yards.

However, the Tigers’ biggest issue was finishing off drives. Five times Massillon reached the Fitch side of the 50, including two drives inside the 20, without scoring a point.

The only touchdown for the Tigers came on a 60-yard punt return by Austin Jasinski with 8:38 left in the third quarter to pull them within 7-6. The point-after kick was blocked.

“We put the ball on the ground,” Moore said. “We really couldn’t get the run game going, especially in the first half. We were just not executing, plain and simple.”
The Tigers turned the ball over four times, including a pair of fumbles on fourth down inside the Fitch 30. They also fumbled the ball away on their first play, which set the Falcons up for the only offensive score of the game.

After Massillon fumbled on its own 23, Fitch needed just four plays – along with a Tiger offsides – to reach the end zone. Randy Smith’s 3-yard run with 7:37 left in the first quarter, along with Dylan Correia’s PAT, gave Fitch a 7-0 lead.

“Is it every year like this?” asked Fitch coach Phil Annarella, whose team has won three in a row in the series, the last two by a single point. “This is phenomenal. Thank God we’ve come out on top. … We’ve been very fortunate. They played a great game and we were lucky enough to come out on top.”

Fitch managed just three first downs in the second half, but the last of those was huge. Facing fourth-and-2 from its own 47, it drew an offsides penalty on Massillon to give it a first down with less than two minutes left.

The next play, the ball appeared to pop loose and the Tigers recovered. However, the officials ruled the player down and Massillon couldn’t get the ball back.

The Falcons finished with just 154 yards. Their biggest play was a 44-yard run on a broken play set up by a bad snap.

“The defense played great,” said Moore, whose team picked up an interception from Kordell Ford. “I haven’t watched the film yet, but it looked like our front seven really played very well.

I thought our secondary played well too; they were tackling, coverage was good. … It’s a team game: You win as a team and you lose as a team, and as a team, we have to get back to the grindstone and get back to work.”