Tag: <span>Austin Kutscher</span>


2017: Massillon 21, Cincinnati Winton Woods 56

Winton Woods roars from behind to end Massillon’s run

Chris Easterling – The Independent

COLUMBUS Massillon couldn’t have asked for a better way to start its Division II state semifinal Friday night. The Tigers, though, would love to forget the way it ended.

Despite a three-touchdown lead in the second quarter, Massillon couldn’t keep explosive Cincinnati Winton Woods from coming alive. The Warriors did just that, racing past the Tigers 56-21 to end Massillon’s playoff run at Columbus St. Francis DeSales’ Alumni Stadium.

“They played well,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “We had some mistakes in there. We just couldn’t get it back on track.”

Game action vs. Winton Woods 2017

The win sends Winton Woods, now 13-1, into next Thursday night’s Division II state championship game in Canton against Hoban, which is looking for its third consecutive state title, but first in Division II. Massillon, meanwhile, ends its season at 10-4 after its first state-semifinal appearance since 2009.

Winton Woods scored 56 points in a row, turning a 21-0 Massillon lead with 8:36 into a 56-21 advantage with 58 seconds remaining. The Warriors scored on six of their final seven possessions, not including a punt return for a score and an interception return for a touchdown.

“That’s just who we are,” Winton Woods coach Andre Parker said. “A lot of times, we take things the hard way. We made it hard. We gave them a couple of plays early, and they made some plays early and they jumped out to a 21-0 lead. There was no panic on our sidelines. We’ve been here before.”

Three plays into the game, Massillon was sitting exactly where it would hope it would be sitting. The Tigers were in possession of a 7-0 lead.

The game started with Anthony Ballard intercepting Winton Woods on the first play from scrimmage. After an incomplete pass on Massillon’s first play, Aidan Longwell hit Austin Kutscher on a slip screen to the left.

From there, Kutscher did the rest, racing 67 yards for a Tiger touchdown 28 seconds into the game.

Winton Woods appeared poised to answer with a score of their own. However, the Warriors fumbled the ball at the Tiger 1 and Massillon recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

After Massillon’s third possession ended with a pair of penalties and a punt which rolled dead at the Tiger 26. The Massillon defense, though, bowed up and limited Winton Woods to just three net yards and forced it to try a 40-yard field goal.

The field-goal try never got past the line of scrimmage, getting blocked. While the Warriors just stood around look, Ballard wisely picked up the football and ran untouched into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown.

Klay Moll’s second point-after kick of the night made it 14-0 Massillon with 2:11 remaining in the first quarter.

That score would grow to 21-0 in favor of the Tigers with 8:36 remaining in the half. Massillon broke into the bag of tricks to do so, as Tyee Broyles took the pitch, then flipped it back to receiver Jayden Ballard coming back toward the right.

Ballard then threw the ball to a wide-open Kutscher for a 50-yard touchdown.

“We had some things that we liked,” Moore said. “We made some good calls at some good times. We got on the board and got some stops.”

Winton Woods, though, would come alive to end the half. The Warriors answered on their next drive, as Navar Gannaway pulled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kenny Mayberry – a ball which just slipped past a Tiger defender – to pull wiuthin 21-7 with 4:47 remaining in the half.

It was 21-14 just over two minutes later. This time, it was a 42-yard punt return by Cornell Beachem for a Warrior score with 2:32 left in the half after the Tigers went three-and-out.

Massillon had a chance to add to its margin before the half, but a fourth-and-10 pass from the Winton Woods 29 was just out of the reach of a Tiger receiver in the end zone.

Winton Woods would tie the game on its first possession of the third quarter. After a Tiger three-and-out and a big punt return by Beachem – with 15 more yards tacked on for a horse-collar tackle – the Warriors started at Massillon 22.

Two plays later, Miyan Williams was running it in from five yards out for the touchdown. Yeri Velasquez’s PAT kick tied the game at 21-21 with 9:50 left in the third.

Chris Oats intercepted a deflected pass on Massillon’s next possession and returned it 52 yards for the touchdown. Velasquez’s PAT kick made it 28-21 Warriors with 7:26 left in the third.

A blocked quick-kick try by Massillon put Winton Woods at the Tiger 23. Next play, Beachem raced the necessary yardage for a 35-21 Warrior lead with two minutes left in the third.

Williams and Gannaway would work together to make it 42-21 Warriors. Williams ran for the first 20 yards on a running play, then lateralled it to Gannaway at the Tiger 3. Gannaway would run it in from there for the touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Mayberry’s 8-yard run with 8:02 remaining made it 49-21 Winton Woods. Anthony Clark’s 4-yard run with 58 seconds left closed out the scoring.



2017: Massillon 28, Ashland 7

Thomas, defense carry Massillon past Ashland

Chris Easterling – The Independent

Video courtesy of Brian Skowronski – An Ashland point of view

WOOSTER It was cold. The field had a thin layer of snow on it at the start.

In other words, it was perfect conditions for Jamir Thomas and Massillon’s defense to do what they do best in a 28-7 Division II Region 7 semifinal win over Ashland at Wooster’s Follis Field.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

“The weather conditions were great,” a happy Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his 9-3 team advanced to next week’s regional final against New Albany at a site to be determined. “This is playoff football. I don’t know what else you want; move to Florida if you don’t like this.”

Thomas and the Tigers defense certainly felt right at home in the conditions, with a 27-degree temperature at kickoff. The former carried the Massillon offense on his back, while the latter never let the explosive Ashland offense get off the ground.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Thomas bulldozed his way to a career-high 196 rushing yards on 37 carries. He also scored all four of the Tigers’ touchdowns on runs of nine, three, 27 and three yards.

“He did a great job,” Moore said of Thomas, who accounted for almost half of Massillon’s 409 total yards.

Thomas provided the only first-half score, a 9-yard run just 22 seconds into the second quarter for a 7-0 Massillon lead. He would blow the game open with a pair of third-quarter runs within 114 seconds of each other – a 3-yarder with 2:24 left and a 27-yarder with 30 seconds left – to make it 21-0 Tigers going into the final quarter.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

The final Thomas touchdown run came with 53 seconds remaining, a 3-yarder plunge.

“We got to go over and see them play McKinley (in Week 10), so I got to see them there,” said Ashland coach Scott Valentine, whose team bows out at 9-3. “We knew he was good. As time went on, he broke some runs, but I was proud of our defense the way they played, especially the first half and even in the second half as far as containing some of that stuff.”

While Ashland’s defense was able to contain Massillon some of the time, the Tiger defense was able to contain the Arrows almost all of the time. The only Ashland touchdown was a 27-yard pass from Keagan Armitage to Bryke Williams with 7:33 remaining to pull it within 21-7.

A week after the Arrows put up 48 points in a come-from-behind win at Columbus Mifflin, it could never consistently get going against Massillon as they were held to 223 total yards. At least, they weren’t able to get going enough to find the end zone.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

Armitage, Ashland’s Mr. Football candidate, was limited to just 17-of-32 passing for 129 yards and the score. He did run for 87 yards on 17 carries, but fumbled twice.

“We played well,” Moore said. “We forced some turnovers, which was huge for us, especially in the first half. I’m really proud of our guys.”

Of course, Ashland proved to be its own worst enemy in many regards. The Arrows turned the ball over three times, compared to just one Tiger giveaway.

All three of the Arrow fumbles came in Massillon territory. A second-possession fumble at the Tiger 24; a fumble on a second-quarter run as Ashland was about to score a touchdown that went out of the end zone; and a third-quarter fumble at midfield.

Game action vs. Ashland 2017

“That’s the thing,” Valentine said. “When you’re playing good people in these situations, you can’t turn the ball over. You can’t have some of the penalties we had. Our kids laid it on the line; I’m proud of their effort. It’s just those things hurt us.”

Those turnovers also helped Massillon reach its first regional championship game since 2012



2017: Massillon 28, Youngstown Boardman 23

Massillon rallies to knock out Boardman

Chris Easterling – The Independent

MASSILLON Massillon threw the first punch. The Tigers threw the last one as well.

In between, they endured more than their share of body blows from a Boardman team that had no intention of letting its No. 7 seed define what kind of football team it really was. However, the final blow thrown by Massillon was enough to help it keep on playing, as it rallied for a 28-23 win in Friday’s Division II Region 7 quarterfinal at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“You just keep swinging,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, who picked up his first playoff win at the school, while ending the program’s three-game postseason losing streak.

Game action vs. Youngstown Boardman 2017

With just over nine minutes remaining, that streak looked like it may well be on its way to continuing. Boardman went in front 23-14 on quarterback Mike O’Horo’s 5-yard touchdown run with 9:19 left.

Then the Tiger offense, which had mustered just 50 total yards over its previous seven combined possessions, came alive. A passing game that had just 74 yards through three quarters exploded for 118 in the final 12 minutes.

On Massillon’s next two possessions after the Spartans opened up the two-score lead, it came up with touchdown passes from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutcher, a 36-yarder with 8:40 remaining, and to Dean Clark, a 19-yarder with 5:46 left.

Kutscher’s catch, part of a seven-catch, 104-yard night, pulled the Tigers within 23-21. Clark’s catch — one play after he nearly pulled in a pass in the end zone — put Massillon ahead to stay.

“We had great practices all week,” said Moore, whose team will play Ashland in a regional semifinal next Friday at a site to be announced. “For some reason tonight, the shots weren’t falling. They just weren’t. But if you play hard and keep swinging, hopefully you have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. That’s what happens.”

Longwell, who was 6-of-9 for 118 yards with the two scores in the fourth, finished the game 13-of-25 for 192 yards with the two touchdowns and one interception.

Game action vs. Youngstown Boardman 2017

It took all of 16 seconds for Massillon to throw the first punch of the game. Tyree Broyles took the opening kickoff virtually untouched to the end zone for a 91-yard touchdown return and a 7-0 Tigers lead.

“We actually thought that if they kicked it to Tyree, that we would take it to the house,” Moore admitted.

It was a lead that lasted less than two-and-a-half minutes. After Jujuan Forte brought back the subsequent kickoff 55 yards to the Massillon 35, Boardman took a quick six plays to traverse that distance for the game-tying score.

Maurice Pickard did the honors for the Spartans, scoring on a 7-yard run with 9:22 left in the first quarter. Tommy Fryda’s point-after kick squared it at 7-7.

Massillon’s response was almost as fast as Boardman’s. The Tigers took all of 2:19 to go 57 yards in eight plays, with Jamir Thomas running it in from the Spartan 6 for a 14-7 lead after Klay Moll’s PAT kick with 6:56 remaining in the first quarter.

With three touchdowns in the first 5:04 of the game, it seemed like a shootout was on the way. Except that it would take just over 14 minutes of clock time — and six combined possessions between the two teams — before another score.

Boardman would end the scoring moratorium with an 8-yard touchdown run by O’Horo with 4:47 remaining in the first half. The Spartans, though, missed the PAT kick to keep the Tigers in front at 14-13.

Massillon, after scoring the first two times it touched the ball, was limited to just 60 yards on its final five first-half possessions. Boardman, meanwhile, was held to 50 yards on its four non-scoring drives in the first half.

Boardman would take the lead on the opening drive of the second half. Fryda’s 36-yard field goal just sneaked over the crossbar to cap a 14-play, 52-yard drive to make it 16-14 Spartans.

O’Horo’s 5-yard touchdown run with 9:19 remaining made it 23-14 Boardman. O’Horo finished with 48 rushing yards on 17 carries, while throwing for 89 yards while completing 12-of-21 passing.



Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2017: Massillon 35, Akron Firestone 6

Tigers bounce back, flatten Firestone

Chris Easterling – The Independent
Oct 13, 2017 10:19 PM

MASSILLON Massillon’s first possession Friday night against visiting Firestone went for a three-and-out. It was the first time the Tigers failed to score on their opening possession.

Problem for the Falcons was that Massillon had plenty of other possessions after that one in which it didn’t go three-and-out. In fact, more often then now, they went for touchdowns, as the Tigers bounced back with a 35-6 win over Firestone at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Game action vs. Akron Firestone

“I think we were focused and dialed in, which is what we needed to do,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team bounced back from a Week 7 loss to Canisius (N.Y.) to improve to 6-2. “I don’t know how much better we got; we definitely played better. We need to get the film evaluated and evaluate this game just like we did the previous games and continue to get better every week.

Massillon also shook off any first-possession disappointment to make sure it established control of the game before the teams went to the locker room for halftime. The Tigers scored on four consecutive drives after its first one to open up a 28-0 lead going into the break.

It would take Massillon until its second possession of the second half to get on the board as well. That’s when Aidan Longwell hooked up with Aydrik Ford for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 35-0 with 4:31 remaining in the third quarter.

That was one of three touchdown passes for Longwell. He also hit Jayden Ballard and Austin Kutscher for touchdowns in the first half.

Game action vs. Akron Firestone

“We wanted to come out and make an effort to be more balanced,” said Moore, whose team racked up 360 total yards in the game. “Certainly not perfect, but I thought we did well”

While the Massillon offense generated the points, the Tiger defense was able to do something it had struggled to do at times, even during the five-game win streak. It was consistently able to get off the field quickly.

Two passes to Darshun Williams – a 13-yarder on the Falcons’ first drive and a 39-yarder on their sixth – accounted for the only two times in the first half in which Firestone managed to get across the 50. The first time, which reached the Tiger 43, ended in a punt from the Massillon 46.

The second one put the Falcons on the Massillon 19. The next four plays netted minus-5 yards before Anthony Ballard intercepted a pass in the end zone on fourth down with :38 remaining in the first half.

Game action vs. Akron Firestone

That was one of two first-half interceptions for the Tigers. Max Turner – who started due to a handful of players being suspended for the first quarter due to a violation of team rules – came up with a one-handed pick to squelch Firestone’s second drive.

Remove Williams’ two big plays and Firestone’s offense netted just 38 yards on 25 first-half plays. Williams would put the Falcons on the board with a 34-yard touchdown catch from Joe Namsick with 8:49 remaining in the game.

The Falcons would finish with 232 yards on 54 plays. Of those, 83 came on the lone scoring drive of the game.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we played better,” Moore said. “Did we play to our potential? No. We need to continue to evaluate and improve. We’ll do that again this weekend.”

Game action vs. Akron Firestone

That defensive performance was counted by a workmanlike effort by Massillon’s offense. One fact which was obvious from the very first possession was the Tigers’ desire to work both the run and pass.

Of the four first-half touchdown, two were passes by Longwell and two were runs. Ballard and Kutscher each caught a score in the first quarter, while Tyree Broyles and Jamir Thomas each ran for a score in the second quarter.

At halftime, Massillon had run the ball 18 times for 111 yards, while Longwell was 11-of-14 for 136 yards passing. The Tigers would finish with 163 rushing yards on 35 attempts, while Longwell was 15-of-19 passing for 197 yards.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2017: Massillon 35, Buffalo Canisius NY 49

Canisius second-half burst ends Massillon’s streak

Chris Easterling – The Independent
Oct 06, 2017 10:59 PM

MASSILLON   Adversity had shown its face to Massillon before Friday night’s visit from New York reigning Catholic School state champion Canisius. However, not since the season opener had it bared its teeth as much as it did with the visitors from Buffalo in town.

Adversity didn’t just bare its teeth, though, at Massillon on Friday night. It took a big bite out of the Tigers, as Canisius snapped their five-game win streak with a 49-35 win at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“It’s a team game,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “We win as a team and we lose as a team. We weren’t good enough tonight. We have to get better.”

Game action vs. Buffalo Cansius NY

Massillon managed to negate one two-touchdown deficit in the first half to tie the game at 21-21 at halftime. However, Canisius scored on its first four possessions of the second half to open up a 49-28 leas with 8:05 remaining.

Jamir Thomas’ fifth touchdown run of the night – a new program record – pulled the Tigers within 49-35 with 7:10 remaining. However, Massillon would fail to get any closer than that.

Thomas finished with 160 rushing yards on 36 carries on the night. He was forced to carry even more of the load when Zion Phifer, who had been sharing the running-back carries through the first six games, left in the second quarter with a knee injury.

Massillon also got a single-game receptions record from Austin Kutscher with 17 grabs for 208 yards. The rest of the Tiger receivers had a combined five catches for 89 yards.

Game action vs. Buffalo Cansius NY

Canisius, which is now 5-1, gained 220 of its 427 total yards on its first four second-half possessions. Quarterback Jayce Johnson threw a pair of second-half touchdowns – one to R.J. Barrett and one to Paul Woods – while rushing for a pair of short scores.

Johnson added a two-point conversion run as well. He was 12-of-19 passing for 220 yards, while rushing for 43 yards on 11 carries.

“I was really proud of the group,” Canisius coach Rich Robbins said. “There was some adversity tonight. There’s was a time where (Massillon) was scoring and it was tilting, and every time they were getting back in it, we responded and made some plays.”

The biggest deficit Massillon faced over its five-game win streak entering Friday’s game was two points. That came in the second quarter of the Week 5 win over Bedford, when the Tigers trailed 16-14 for about four-and-a-half minutes.

Friday night, Massillon found itself trailing by two touchdowns – at 21-7 – with just under eight minutes remaining in the second quarter. Joel Nicholas, who scored all three Canisius first-half touchdowns, ripped off a 40-yard run with multiple broken tackles included to provide the 14-point cushion at the 7:47 mark.

Just over seven minutes later, Thomas was scoring his third touchdown of the night for Massillon. That 1-yard plunge with 24 seconds remaining in the half, helped the Tigers square the game up at 21-21.

Thomas had given Massillon a 7-0 lead with a 7-yard run to close out the game’s opening drive. It was the seventh time in as many games the Tigers had scored on their first possession, and the sixth touchdown.

The junior running back also helped pull Massillon to within 21-14 with three minutes remaining in the half. Thomas, who rushes for 90 yards on 22 first-half carries, scored from two yards out.

In between Thomas’ first and second scores, though, Canisius would score on its first three possessions for the 21-7 lead. Nicholas would score on runs for 12, two and 40 yards to close out drives of 10, three and two plays.

Nicholas had 80 yards on nine carries.

“It was tough not having Kenyatta Huston against tonight,” Robbins said. “He’s a great player for us. But we’re real comfortable with Joel and Joe (Jamison, who led Canisius with 89 rushing yards). Joel had a bit of a coming-out party tonight.”


Game Stats

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2017: Massillon 56, Bedford 46

Massillon outlasts Bedford in shootout

Chris Easterling – The Independent
Sep 22, 2017 11:06 PM

MASSILLON – Massillon knew what Bedford was coming to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium for Friday night. The Tigers knew that three years ago when the Bearcats called them up to schedule the game in the first place.

Bedford was coming down trying to make a statement. Instead, it was Massillon which, ultimately, made the statement.

The Tigers showed they could light up a scoreboard as well as the highly-touted and explosive Bearcats. They handed Bedford, the state’s No. 9-ranked Division II team, its first loss of the season while winning their fourth in a row with a wild 56-46 victory.

“We needed our offense tonight,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “It was a great team with great players that we knew was going to be hard to contain. We got a couple of stops, not enough, but our offense stepped up big. We’re happy with the 10-point victory.”

Game action vs. Bedford

Massillon scored on eight of its first 10 possessions in leading by as many as 26 points after the third quarter. The Tigers took that lead when Aidan Longwell threw the third of his three touchdown passes, this one a 25-yarder to Austin Kutscher with 5 seconds remaining in the quarter.

That was one of four Massillon third-quarter touchdowns which helped turn a 28-22 halftime lead into a 56-30 lead going into the fourth quarter.

While the touchdown pass capped the scoring in the third for the Tigers, it was touchdown runs which were the story of the quarter. Massillon rushed for 126 yards on 20 third-quarter carries, with Zion Phifer scoring on a pair of runs and Jamir Thomas adding a score.

Phifer had 91 of his career-best 196 yards on 10 third-quarter carries. Thomas had 35 of his 99 rushing yards on 10 third-quarter carries.

“We just ran the football,” Moore said of the third-quarter burst. “Our offensive line played great.”

Massillon finished with 292 rushing yards for the game on 58 carries. The Tigers added 128 passing yards as Longwell was 7-of-10 with two scores to Kutscher and one to Jayden Ballard.

The Tigers needed every one of those yards they gained and each of the points they scored. Bedford showed why its offense was so highly regarded by gaining 476 yards of their own and pulling within 56-46 on the second of a pair of Emmanuel Jenkins-to-Davion Johnson fourth-quarter touchdown passes with 7:03 remaining.

Jenkins was 21-of-36 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one interceptions. Johnson had 16 catches for 259 yards and two scores.

Kenny Wilkins’ fourth two-point conversion run provided the final Bearcat points. Bedford converted five two-point tries, including a Wilkins-to-Jenkins throwback pass.

Massillon couldn’t have gone to the best Hollywood scriptwriter and not come up with a better start to the game. Two Bedford possessions, two turnovers; two Tiger possession, two touchdowns.

Logan Anania’s interception turned into a Longwell-to-Ballard touchdown pass on Massillon’s first offensive play. A Hunter Wantz fumble recovery ended up with a 17-yard Phifer touchdown run for a 14-0 Tiger lead with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter.

Wilkins, though, gave Bedford a 16-14 lead – its lone lead of the game – with a pair of scoring runs as part of his 162-yard rushing night. One was a 65-yard run one play after Massillon went up two scores; the other a 6-yard run five seconds into the second quarter.

Both two-point tries were good for the Bearcats.

Massillon executed a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive to re-take the lead for good on Thomas’ 3-yard run with 7:09 left in the half. Longwell threaded a pass between a Bedford defender’s hands to Kutscher for a 16-yard touchdown and a 28-16 lead with 2:39 left in the half.

The Bearcats would get a controversial 11-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins to DeCarleen Townsend as the half expired to make it 28-22. Bedford was flagged twice for penalties after being stopped at the 1-yard line with 2 seconds left in the half.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2017: Massillon 42, Youngstown Ursuline 13

Tigers air it out for third consecutive win

Chris Easterling – The Independent
Sep 15, 2017 10:32 PM

MASSILLON – Massillon had won behind a punishing running game over a modest two-game winning streak. To make it a three-game win streak, the Tigers decided to show they could throw the ball as well.

Sophomore quarterback Aidan Longwell looked anything but like a sophomore has he lit up the Ursuline defense to the tune of 324 yards and five touchdowns as Massillon rolled to a 42-13 win Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Game Action vs. Yo. Ursuline

“Aidan had a great game,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said after his team improved to 3-1. “You have to give credit to Ursuline; they did a great job up front. Their defense gave us tough sledding running the football, which is what we had been good at. We needed to go to the air, and Aidan threw great balls and made great decisions; our receivers caught the ball well. That was really the difference for us.”

If there was a black cloud to come over the night, it came late in the third quarter when Longwell was hurt on a second-down play. Longwell, who was 11-of-17 passing for the game, was walking without an apparent limp during the postgame handshake line, but Moore wouldn’t state for certain the true extent without speaking to the trainer.

The tone of the night was set early by the Tiger quarterback, who was making just his fourth career start. After sandwiching two incompletions around a 10-yard completition to start, he would complete nine of his next 13 passes – four of which went for touchdowns – for 283 yards to help Massillon open up a 28-7 halftime lead.

Longwell was 10-of-16 for 293 yards with the four scores in the first half alone. To put that in perspective, in the Week 3 win at Warren Harding, he was 8-of-11 for 120 yards and two touchdowns for the whole game.

By the end of the first quarter against Ursuline, Longwell had completed 7-of-11 passes for 156 yards and two scores, both to Austin Kutscher. Kutscher had a 39-yard scoring catch on a second-and-25 play to give Massillon a 7-0 lead on its opening drive, then caught a 34-yarder from Longwell on third-and-8 on the second possession for a 14-0 lead.

Game Action vs. Yo. Ursuline

“He throws a wonderful ball,” Ursuline coach Larry Kempe said of Longwell. “He throws a good ball. He’s smart enough to get rid of the ball very quick. I think he’s going to be a real, real nice player.”

Longwell and Kutscher would hook up against on Massillon’s first play after stopping Ursuline on downs at the Tiger 31. The 69-yard strike marked the seventh time this season the two had connected for scores, this time giving the Tigers a 21-7 lead just under three minutes into the second quarter.

Kutscher finished with 198 receiving yards on seven catches. He added a 31-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter which made it 35-7.

“He’s a great player,” Moore said of Kutscher. “He’s one of our captains tonight. Nobody works harder than Austin. He’s very skilled, very savvy as a receiver.”

Aydrik Ford became the first Massillon player to catch a touchdown pass other than Kutscher when he brought in a 47-yard pass from Longwell on third-and-9. The play made it 28-7 with 3:01 left in the half.

All of the passing proved to be somewhat necessary, as Ursuline was doing its part to not allow Massillon to go to its bread-and-butter, the power running game. Jamir Thomas’ 10-yard run on the fourth play of the Tigers’ second second-quarter possession alone proved to more than double the team’s first-half rushing totals.

Massillon went into halftime with just 19 net rushing yards on 13 attempts, a number only slightly skewed by a pair of kneel-downs to end the half. The Tigers would finish with 117 rushing yards, 71 by Zion Phifer who scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 42-13.

“On film, we saw what they were trying to do with the running game,” Kempe said. “We had three different plans of attack that worked very well for us. Truth be told, for the first time in four weeks, played with great passion.”

Ursuline, meanwhile, was moving the ball consistently on the ground. The Irish, though, struggled to finish off drives.

The first-half drives for Ursuline all reached at least the Tiger 37. However, only the Irish’s second possession reached the end zone, on Joe Floyd’s 7-yard run to pull them within 14-7 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

Ursuline punted from the Tigers 40 and 39, while being stopped on downs at the Massillon 29 and 16 in the first half. The Irish also had second-half drives reach the Tiger 1 and 34 without scoring.

The Irish, who had 215 rushing yards in the first half, finished with 269 on the ground. They would add a 4-yard touchdown run by Floyd to make it 35-13 with 7:10 remaining.

Floyd rushed for 132 yards on 35 carries for Ursuline. Quarterback Jared Fabry added 113 yards on 17 attempts.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2017: Massillon 14, Mentor 49

Momentum Shift Buries Massillon In Opener

Chris Easterling
The Independent
Aug 25, 2017 10:48 PM

MASSILLON Things were going just fine for Massillon for a quarter in its season opener against Mentor at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers held the lead and were keeping the high-flying Cardinals out of the end zone.

Then, on Massillon’s second play of the second quarter, a tipped deep ball was intercepted by Mentor’s Billy Gorka – with Gorka lying on his back.

Almost like it was an omen, that play changed everything.

The Cardinals would score on their next seven possessions, turning a seven-point Tiger lead into a 49-14 Mentor opening-night rout.

“They played well,” a subdued Massillon coach Nate Moore said afterwards. “They’re really good offensively.”

Game Action vs. Mentor 2017

After being held to just 40 yards on 11 first-quarter plays, which ended with Massillon in front 7-0, the Cardinals would gain 413 over 29 plays in the next two quarters alone. They would lead 42-14 after three quarters, then make it 49-14 three plays into the fourth quarters.

Mentor finished the game with 501 yards. Massillon, which had 96 yards in the first quarter, ended things with 249 total yards.

Of those 249 yards, 66 came on a touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutscher in the third quarter. That made it briefly 28-14.

Game Action vs. Mentor 2017

“We just needed to settle in,” Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno said. “They were really geared up, and probably too much. I tried to crack a joke, but it didn’t work. After that, we were a really good football team.”

The ending was such a far cry from the beginning, especially for the Tigers.

Massillon couldn’t have scripted a better start to the football season. A three-and-out by the Tiger defense on the first Cardinals possession led to great starting field position, at the Mentor 42.

A bad snap on first down, though, was followed by a 23-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutscher. The very next play, Marcellus Blake raced virtually untouched for a 21-yard touchdown run to give Massillon a 7-0 lead 94 seconds into the season.

“It was a good start,” Moore said.

Game Action vs. Mentor 2017

Blake, who finished with 10 yards on 47 carries, found himself in a featured role due to the absence of a pair of Tigers, Jamir Thomas and Louis Partridge. Both players did not play, according to Moore, due to internal matters he wouldn’t discuss further.

Compounding things, Blake left the game early in the third quarter with an injury on a punt coverage. His status for the Week 2 home game against GlenOak is unknown.

Mentor’s offense began to get going on the next two first-quarter drives, reaching Massillon’s 25 and 34, respectively. The first one, though, ended on a diving interception by Dyson Berry, while the second one was halted on a fourth-down incomplete pass in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.

Gorka’s interception may have been the play that stood out the most as the momentum-changer, but it wasn’t the only one. Massillon’s second possession reached the Mentor 16, but the Tigers fumbled the ball away on first down.

“Not punching it in for a second touchdown also hurt,” Moore said. “If we stick that in, we go up 14-0. Obviously, that puts us in a much better position.”

That’s when the Mentor offense, which had been tuning up in the first quarter, hit the gear for which it’s become known. Three second-quarter possessions led to three second-quarter touchdowns for the Cardinals, who took a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Outside of a Tiger personal foul flag on the first play of the first second-quarter possession and a Massillon offsides flag on the sixth play of the third, the three drives were textbook displays of crisp offensive football. A combined 23 plays over those three drives: 15 rushing plays for 103 yards, while 7-of-8 for 59 yards passing for quarterback Tadas Tatarunas.

All three scores were rushing for Mentor: 3-yard game-tying run by Chris Edmond; a 12-yard Tatarunas scamper for a 14-7 lead; and a 1-yard Nick Saginario plunge for a 21-7 lead.

Edmond finished with 111 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run to make it 28-7 Mentor. Tatarunas rushed for 66 yards while completing 17-of-25 passes for 188 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns.

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 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.