MASSILLON Darien Williams took the kickoff and, following his blockers, raced to the left and then down the field to the GlenOak 42.
The only problem, however, was a yellow flag sitting back inside Massillon’s 40. That holding flag negated what would have been a big return, plus extra yards tacked on for a horse-collar tackle.
That would be about the only thing to go wrong for Massillon in the first half of a dominant 55-13 victory over visiting GlenOak on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Once the Tigers were able to snap the ball – following a re-kick and then a GlenOak offsides penalty before the first play – they wasted no time laying waste to any hopes the Golden Eagles had of pulling off an upset. Massillon scored on its first six possessions, along with an interception return for a score by Preston Hodges, to jump out to a 48-0 lead just over 13 minutes into the game.
“We treat this like any other week,” Hodges said. “We come out looking to get as good as we can. We’re just looking to better ourselves as the season goes on.”
That was just the start, however. By the time the teams went to the locker room for halftime, the Tigers had already scored more points than GlenOak had given up in more than two decades, as they held a 55-6 lead.
Then only score of the half for the Golden Eagles came on a 91-yard Leeshawn Johnson kickoff return with 10:37 remaining in the second quarter. That trimmed the Massillon lead to 48-6.
GlenOak would have one other chance in Tiger territory over the first 24 minutes of the game. Jamiel Randle intercepted a Massillon pass on the Tigers’ seventh possession and returned it to the Tiger 13.
Four plays later, however, Massillon would get the ball back by stopping the Golden Eagles at the Tiger 9. Nine plays after that, Massillon would tack on its ninth touchdown of the half when Austin Brawley took a quick pass at the line of scrimmage from backup quarterback Zach Catrone and raced 35 yards for the touchdown with 3:39 remaining in the half.
If the scoreboard didn’t show the dominance of the first half, the statistics did. Massillon held a 401-21 edge in total yards, including 211-10 in rushing yards.
The Tigers also forced three turnovers in the first half. Besides Hodges’ pick-six, Robbie Page set up Massillon’s third touchdown of the night on a diving, juggling interception at the GlenOak 30. There was also a recovery by Isaiah Clark of an uncovered kickoff.
GlenOak did not pick up a first down until the 2:45 mark of the third quarter on a 29-yard run by Johnson to the Tiger 38. By that point, Massillon held an 18-1 edge in that stat.
Johnson would score GlenOak’s other touchdown as well on a 9-yard run with 4:54 remaining.
“We’re real young offensively right now,” said GlenOak coach Beau Balderson, whose team was out-gained 466-115 in total yards, and out-first-downed 21-4. “We’re taking our lumps. We’re going to continue to get better and they’re going to continue to fight and not point fingers at each other. We’re going to build from the positives of tonight and move on.”
All of that was done with the Tiger starters essentially calling it a night after Hodges ripped off a 16-yard scoring run to put Massillon ahead 48-0 with 10:53 remaining in the half. That was on the first play after Clark’s kickoff recovery.
Those starters, however, did the most with the little opportunity. Aidan Longwell was 5-of-6 passing for 155 yards and three touchdowns, completing his final five pass attempts.
Jayden Ballard, meanwhile, turned both of his catches into touchdowns for a total of 109 receiving yards. Andrew Wilson-Lamp added two catches for 38 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown catch.
All of that passing came after Massillon ran the ball on 11 of its first 12 plays, for 117 yards. Terrence Keyes would gain 79 of his 83 rushing yards on seven of those plays, while Zion Phifer added 29 of his 47 yards on four carries.
“We weren’t trying to establish the run,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “We were just calling the plays we thought would be successful. The kids executed.”
Both would score on 2-yard touchdown runs for a 14-0 Massillon lead with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
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