Massillon dominates Fitch in statement game
Saturday, October 6, 2012
MASSILLON – The Massillon Tigers wanted a complete game. Through their first six games, they had either had shown up with a big offensive performance, or their defense was the highlight of the night.
But Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, they put both offense and defense together. And the result was the Tigers’ most impressive performance of the season in a 34-14 rout of the state’s No. 5-ranked Division I team, previously-undefeated Austintown Fitch.
Consider it a statement made.
“You’ve really got to be proud of our kids and our coaching staff,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said after his team improved to 6-1 heading into next week’s home game against Canadian foe Pauline Johnson Collegiate. “Our coaching staff put a game plan together and our kids bought into it and they executed it. We came out with a lot of energy and we started the third quarter off with energy as well. I think that’s as complete a game as we’ve played. … I think everybody in Massillon’s proud of their Tigers tonight.”
Fitch, now 6-1, had not allowed any teams to score more than 10 points in its first six games, a total Massillon had exceeded by the end of the first quarter. The Tigers rolled up 533 yards of offense on the Falcons’ highly-touted defense.
“It was a huge statement, because everyone was talking this team up all week,” said Tiger running back Ryne Moore, who finished with 112 rushing yards and a score. “They were beating teams pretty good, so it was a huge statement for us to come out and do what we did.”
Coming into the game, Massillon felt like it may have an edge over Fitch thanks to the throwing arm of Kyle Kempt. Of the Falcons’ first six opponents, none boasted a quarterback with the passing ability of the Tigers’ senior.
And Kempt proved that to be true.
By the end of the first quarter, Kempt had thrown for 209 yards and two touchdowns, completing 12-of-15 passes. By halftime, his numbers were up to 15-of-20 passing for 273 yards with four touchdowns.
“We didn’t see a lot of changes in their looks, and they didn’t change the rest of the night,” said Kempt, who finished the game 18-of-26 passing for 308 yards with four scores. “We had a good plan heading into the game. We just knew we could exploit them, especially through the air.”
The big performance by Kempt and the offense was equalled by a defensive effort that kept the high-scoring Falcons to a season-low in points, with their second touchdown coming with just more than four minutes remaining. The previous low had been 24 points in their season opening win over Warren Harding.
Through three quarters, Fitch – which lost starting quarterback Matt Futkos in the third quarter – had just 161 yards of offense. The Falcons finished with 259 total yards.
“We came out and we knew we were going to play because we knew they were a good opponent,” said Tiger defensive end J.D. Crabtree, who 6.5 total tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss in the game. “We saw what they had done to Boardman, and we saw that Boardman had beaten GlenOak. … We came out fired up and we did our jobs.”
Massillon came out of the gate looking to show just what kind of night it was going to be for it offensively. The Tigers took the opening kickoff and marched from their own 15 to the Fitch 18 in 10 plays.
But the Falcons arched their backs on third and fourth down, including a sack on the latter to turn away the Tiger threat.
Undaunted, Massillon made sure its next possession ended in points. The Tigers took eight plays to go 93 yards — the last 32 on a touchdown pass from Kempt to Beau Huffman — to take a 7-0 lead with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
Fitch had its one and only answer on the night, taking the subsequent drive 76 yards in seven plays. The last 10 came courtesy of a quarterback keeper by Futkos to tie the game at 7-7 with 47 seconds left in the quarter.
That 47 seconds was more than enough for Massillon to take the lead for good. Kempt hit Marcus Whitfield for a 58-yard touchdown strike on the final play of the quarter to make it 14-7 Tigers.
Kempt hooked up twice with his favorite target this season – Gareon Conley – on touchdown strikes in the second quarter to help Massillon take a 28-7 halftime lead. The first was an 18-yard scoring pass with 5:03 left in the half to make it 21-7.
Mike Smith set up Conley’s second touchdown by recovering a Fitch fumble at the Falcon 37.
On the next play, Conley caught a 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-7 with still 4:10 remaining until the band show.
Moore made it 34-7 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter with a 27-yard scoring run, juking out Fitch’s Ohio State-bound Billy Price in the process.