Massillon edges McKinley 24-17 in 129th meeting of rivals
Oct 27, 2018 7:30 PM
Josh Weir Canton Repository
MASSILLON While his teammates whooped it up Saturday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon senior Jamir Thomas shed tears as he hugged his family.
Why this emotion in a time of celebration?
“Because this is the last Massillon-McKinley game I ever get to be a part of,” Thomas said.
He made the most of it.
Thomas ran for a career-high 269 yards to key Massillon’s 24-17 win against McKinley in the 129th meeting between the rivals.
A near-capacity crowd watched the Tigers hammer the ball on the ground on a rainy, cold afternoon. Fifty-three times Massillon ran it, with Thomas carrying it 35 times and scoring twice.
After Thomas did most of the heavy lifting to get Massillon down the field, it was junior Zion Phifer punching the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard run with 5:55 left to break a 17-17 tie.
McKinley went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, which turned out to be its final possession. Massillon ran the ball 11 straight times to eat up the final 4:52 of clock and complete the program’s first 10-0 regular season since 1999.
“It’s just playing like Tigers, which means playing hard, playing with discipline, playing with great effort, and doing that for eight months,” Massillon head coach Nate Moore said.
Phifer added 67 yards on 15 carries as the Tigers attempted only eight passes all afternoon. Massillon has won three straight and seven out of the last eight in the series against McKinley.
“We came out here expecting to pound the ball,” Thomas said. “I mean, they knew our plays. They were calling out our plays from their sideline. So we really just had to execute. That’s what we did.” OHSAA playoff pairings will be announced Sunday, but it appears Massillon will host Columbus Walnut Ridge next week in Division II, Region 7, while McKinley will go to Solon in Division I, Region 1.
Down 17-10 at halftime, McKinley’s Kris Hunter recovered a pooch kick that Jayden Ballard couldn’t collect. Nine plays later, quarterback Alijah Curtis fought off at least three tackles before just breaking the plane of the goal line on a 4-yard TD run before the ball popped loose.
The game was tied and the Bulldogs had life. Soon Massillon was sucking it away.
McKinley ran seven offensive plays over the final 19:54 of game clock thanks to Massillon’s punishing run game.
“It was a quick second half,” McKinley head coach Dan Reardon said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting them stopped. We had a couple of opportunities.”
Entering Saturday, only one of Massillon’s nine wins had come by less than 28. If the Tigers needed a test, they got it from McKinley.
Lameir Garrett ran for 104 yards on 19 carries to lead the Bulldogs. He added a 15-yard touchdown on a throwback screen in the first quarter that had McKinley up 7-3.
Curtis completed 7 of 13 passes for 90 yards and one interception as the Bulldogs dropped their second straight game after beginning the season 8-0.
“I thought our kids did a lot of good things,” Reardon said. “Rivalry games, big games, this game, everything is magnified. A missed tackle is magnified. A misalignment is magnified. A misread. Ultimately, they made more plays than we did.
“… I’m very proud of our kids. Our kids this year have done a tremendous job of getting so much better over the course of the year. The team we are today is a thousand times better than 10 or 12 weeks ago.”
Facing a fourth-and-6 at their own 37 on the first play of the fourth quarter, McKinley ran a fake punt. The play’s timing seemed to be disrupted and Matthew Reardon’s pass was picked off by Max Turner.
A Massillon unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the ball back to the Tigers’ 36, where it embarked on the game-winning drive. It included QB Aidan Longwell plowing forward to get a first down on fourth-and-1 from the 20.
“This game, it’s a slugfest,” Moore said. “It always is. Our kids stood tall.”
Tyree Broyles got an interception off a Kyshad Mack deflection in the second quarter to thwart any McKinley momentum after the Bulldogs got a turnover on downs. The Bulldogs finished with only 224 yards of offense.
Massillon junior nose tackle Emanuel McElroy was a force in the trenches. His stop of Garrett on third-and-goal from the 1 in the first quarter forced McKinley to settle for a 20-yard Ronald Pino field goal.
McElroy, a transfer from Tuslaw, is the son of former McKinley star Jamar Martin, creating an interesting dynamic for his family.
“It was nerve-wracking at first,” McElroy said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew what I was going to do. Whether they came for McKinley or Massillon is whatever they feel. I’m going to keep doing what I do for my team and help us go 15-for-15.”
With a weapon such as Thomas, anything is possible for Massillon. The Canton native, a mix of power and speed, highlighted his final McKinley-Massillon game with 78- and 16-yard touchdown runs.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Thomas said. “I just love my team, man.”
Massillon rallies to take out archrival McKinley Oct 28, 2017 5:54 PM
CANTON The last time Massillon played archrival McKinley, in the last game at Fawcett Stadium, it saw its heart ripped out by a late Bulldog score. The first time the Tigers played in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, their archrivals’ sparkling new home, they weren’t about to allow lightning to strike twice.
Massillon emerged from the 128th meeting against McKinley with a 16-15 victory which wasn’t completely secured until Sam Snyder’s 45-yard field goal with 90 seconds remaining was pushed wide left.
“It was swinging back and forth, back and forth,” said Massillon running back Jamir Thomas, who rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries. “It was a hard-fought game, really. They’re a really good team; they’re top-10 in the state in Division I. Us coming in and beating them, that’s a good thing.”
The Tigers, who will take a 7-3 record into Friday’s Division II Region 7 quarterfinal against Boardman at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, took the lead for good on Tre’Von Morgan’s 8-yard touchdown catch – and Klay Moll’s point-after kick – with 6:02 remaining. For both Morgan and Moll, there was a bit of redemption.
Morgan dropped a sure touchdown catch on Massillon’s first possession of the second half, which would have extended its 9-7 halftime lead. Moll, meanwhile, suffered his first missed PAT kick of his career after the Thomas’ 2-yard run in the second quarter put the Tigers in front.
Morgan, though, atoned on the go-ahead drive with a 52-yard catch-and-run to the McKinley 25, then with the touchdown which tied the game at 15-15. Moll, then, gave Massillon the lead with the point-after kick.
“It’s was very big,” said Morgan, who had a team-high 77 yards on four catches. “I dropped one in the end zone, and they just kept telling me to keep playing. So I kept playing.”
One part of Massillon’s team which kept playing the entire game was its defense, which never allowed McKinley’s high-octane offense to get into a consistent groove. The Bulldogs did gain 267 total yards to the Tigers’ 248, but the explosive plays weren’t there.
The biggest play for McKinley was a 40-yard run by Javon Lewis to the Massillon 31 on the final Bulldogs drive of the game. However, that drive netted just three yards before Snyder’s field-goal try.
“A lot of it was heart,” Massillon linebacker Logan Anania said. “It was just who wanted it more. I feel like we did.”
McKinley’s two scoring drives accounted for 127 of the 267 yards. The first, a 55-yard march, put the Bulldogs in front 7-0 with 8:13 left in the first quarter on Keyshawn Watson’s 13-yard touchdown run.
The second, a 72-yard drive, ended on a Josh Chandler 1-yard run with 9:15 remaining. Sio Saipaia ran in the two-point conversion on a counter play for a 15-9 McKinley lead.
Chandler, playing just his second game after missing four with an injury, ran for a team-high 107 yards on 18 carries for McKinley. Watson, the former Tiger playing in his second game for the Bulldogs, was limited to just 32 yards, while also having a kickoff return for a touchdown negated by a hold and then muffing a punt.
McKinley rushed for 242 yards as a team on 38 attempts.
“We felt we were able to run the ball on them,” said McKinley coach Dan Reardon, whose team enters the playoffs at 8-2. “And we really did a good job. I don’t know what the yardage was, but we felt like our ability to run the ball never wavered. (But) we put ourselves in some long yardage situations with some penalties.”
If there was an Achilles’ heel for McKinley all day, beyond the Tiger defense, it was those penalties. The Bulldogs were flagged 13 times for 110 yards, including nine for 65 in the first half alone.
“Cost us the game,” Reardon said of the flags.
One negated Watson’s kickoff return for a score immediately after Massillon went ahead 9-7. The Bulldogs also help set up the Tigers’ first touchdown when it was flagged for holding on the kickoff, then hit for a hold and a false start to force them to put from their own 10.
A 30-yard punt by McKinley put Massillon on the Bulldog 40. Seven plays later, the Tigers scored on Thomas’ 2-yard run for their first lead of the day.
It wouldn’t last the remainder of the game. However, Massillon would still have the last lead of the game.
Redemption story: Morgan’s TD catch keys Massillon win against McKinley Oct 28, 2017 6:30 PM
CANTON Redemption is available in high school football.
Seizing it is another matter entirely.
Massillon’s Tre’Von Morgan snatched his Saturday afternoon. McKinley’s Sam Snyder came painfully close to grabbing his own.
Morgan’s 8-yard touchdown reception and Klay Moll’s ensuing extra point midway through the fourth quarter rallied Massillon to a 16-15 win against McKinley at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the 128th edition of this rivalry.
A crowd of approximately 14,000 braved wet, cold conditions to christen Benson Stadium in a matchup that dates back to 1894.
Saturday wasn’t a masterpiece, but as is usually the case it was close at the end, with the game being decided by two points or less for a third straight year.
Junior Jamir Thomas, who two years ago had McKinley’s Dominque Robinson flip over him for the winning score and last year helped bleed out the clock in a Massillon win, called the feeling “incredible” after the Tigers beat the Bulldogs for the sixth time in the last seven meetings and improved to 70-53-5 in the series.
No one would have been surprised if he had described the feeling as “dead tired,” considering he carried the ball a season-high 42 times for 124 yards and a touchdown Saturday.
“I feel good. I feel real good,” said Thomas, a Canton native, who waved good-bye at the McKinley stands after the game. “We lift and prepare for this and we come out here and wear teams down. That’s our motto and that’s just what we do.”
Morgan, a 6-foot-6 junior, dropped what would have been a 29-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. That would have put the Tigers up two scores. They eventually turned the ball over on downs, and then found themselves trailing early in the fourth quarter when McKinley’s Josh Chandler scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
“They just told me to keep playing,” Morgan said about his teammates, “so I kept playing.”
With Massillon down 15-9, it was Morgan’s 47-yard catch and run that flipped the field. The Tigers eventually faced a fourth-and-3 from the McKinley 8. After a timeout, sophomore quarterback Aidan Longwell found Morgan wide open on a fade route for the score with 6:02 left.
Moll, who missed a point-after try earlier in the game for the first time in his career, knocked this one through to give the Tigers the 16-15 lead.
“Roll the dice. Big game,” Massillon head coach Nate Moore said about his decision. “We thought about playing for field goal-field goal, but how often do you get that close with a chance like that? We took a chance and the kids executed.”
Morgan finished with four catches for 77 yards, while Austin Kutscher added six catches for 37 yards. Longwell, who had been knocked out of the game briefly in the first half with a leg injury, returned to complete 11 of 17 passes for 121 yards, the one TD and no interceptions.
“That shows a lot of guts,” Moore said about Longwell.
McKinley got two shots after Morgan’s touchdown.
The first one was short-circuited by a penalty — a theme throughout the day for the Bulldogs.
The second one had life when Javon Lewis broke loose on a 40-yard run.
McKinley eventually faced a fourth-and-7 from Massillon’s 28 with 1:30 left. After a timeout, Bulldogs head coach Dan Reardon elected to have Snyder, his senior kicker, try a 45-yard field goal for the lead.
It was Snyder who missed from 37 yards last year in the fourth quarter against Massillon with his team down 21-19.
“I felt good about Sam kicking it,” Reardon said about Saturday. “A bunch of kids said, ‘Yeah, give him a chance. He’ll make this kick.’ And we went with it. He felt good about it.”
But Snyder’s attempt sailed just to the left of the uprights. Massillon ran out the clock from there.
Massillon dominated the time of possession 31:00 to 17:00 thanks in part to its running game with Thomas and clutch play on third down (9 of 17), but also because the Bulldogs couldn’t get out of their own way.
McKinley was penalized 13 times (which matched a season high) for 101 yards. A holding penalty in the first half negated Keyshawn Watson’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and the flags plagued the Bulldogs throughout.
“Cost us the game,” Reardon said, the disappointment seeping out of him.
McKinley (8-2), which has lost two straight after starting 8-0, did not look like the No. 8-ranked team in the state in Division I. Junior QB Alijah Curtis completed only three passes for 24 yards and was intercepted once. Watson muffed a punt.
Chandler, in his second game back after missing four straight because of a knee injury, carried 18 times for 107 yards. Watson, the former Massillon player, had a 13-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening drive. McKinley finished with 242 yards on the ground.
Both McKinley and Massillon had clinched playoff spots entering Saturday. The Tigers (7-3) will host Boardman next week in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, according to JoeEitel.com’s projections. Official pairings will be announced Sunday by the OHSAA.
McKinley could have earned a home game in Week 11 by beating Massillon. Now the Bulldogs will go on the road to either Cleveland St. Ignatius or Lakewood St. Edward next week.
SCALZO: In gritty game, Tigers ride workhorse to victory
Joe Scalzo – Canton Repository CANTON The upset was complete, the victory bell was ringing, the party was starting, but before he joined his teammates, the Tiger at the end of the postgame handshake line wanted to leave a parting message for his arch-rivals.
So Massillon junior Jamir Thomas jogged over to the nearly-empty home stands at Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium, formed a “W” with his hands and waved goodbye.
Two years after McKinley quarterback Dominique Robinson dove over Thomas’ body and into the end zone in the final game at the former Fawcett Stadium, Thomas was leaving Canton’s iconic field in a much better mood.
“This definitely feels better,” he said moments after singing the alma mater with his teammates in front of Massillon’s student section following the 16-15 victory. “Two years ago, him (Robinson) diving in the end zone really killed everything, especially coming in the last moments of the game.
“This year, we were able to run the ball, control the line of scrimmage and control the game clock. We came out here to win, and that’s what we did.”
In a game that had all the beauty of a construction site, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Thomas repeatedly pounded away at the inside of the McKinley defense, chipping paint off his helmet and precious seconds off the clock, 3.0 yards at a time.
He carried the ball 42 times for 124 yards — exactly half of the Tigers’ total offensive output — as Massillon controlled the ball for 31 of the game’s 48 minutes.
It was the type of game only Jim Tressel (or Mike Fratello) would love, but it was the type of game Massillon needed to play.
“We had a plan going in and we were able to see that through in a lot of ways,” said Tigers coach Nate Moore, who improved to 2-1 in the rivalry against McKinley coach Dan Reardon. “We felt it was important to help our defense out.”
At times, the Pups seemed to feel the same way. They were flagged 13 times for 101 yards. They muffed a punt. They made attempting a forward pass seem as risky as buying junk bonds.
It was all the more mystifying considering this is a team that has more seniors than the Hartville Kitchen at lunchtime.
Massillon, meanwhile, was supposed to be a year away from contention after graduating four FBS recruits, a two-year starter at quarterback and its most dynamic wide receiver. But the Tigers’ young team kept getting better, while the Bulldogs’ experienced team — one that looked like state championship contenders just a few weeks ago — seems to have stalled.
“That team is good and we were definitely the underdogs,” Thomas said. “But in this game, it really doesn’t matter. You can be 0-9. Anybody can win.”
McKinley still finishes the regular season with an 8-2 record. It still has a share of the Federal League title. It still has its third straight playoff berth. But all that seems empty as the Pups stumble into the postseason for the second straight year.
Instead of hosting a first-round playoff game, the Bulldogs will likely travel north to play one of Cleveland’s two Catholic powerhouses. If they win, the other one likely awaits.
Anyone like those odds?
Massillon, meanwhile, benefits from playing in Division II, Region 7, the same region Perry rolled through over the past two years en route to back-to-back state championship game appearances. With the Panthers stuck in Division I and no frightening foe looming in the first three rounds, does anyone think the Tigers can’t do the same?
But all that can wait. The playoffs should never overshadow high school football’s biggest rivalry. Saturday’s game may not have been an instant classic — more like a distant throwback — but it was everything the city’s fans come to expect.
Meaningful. Emotional. Consequential.
Oh, and physical. Boy, was it physical.
“A lot of it was heart,” Tigers linebacker Logan Anania said. “It was just who wanted it more.
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.
NOT QUITE THERE Bulldog QB flips into endzone with 20 seconds left, winning game and ending Tigers’ season
Chris Easterling Independent Sports Editor
CANTON Massillon struck first. McKinley struck last.
That final blow by the Bulldogs also was enough to end the Tigers’ season. Dominique Robinson helicoptered his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run with 20 seconds left, carrying McKinley to a 30-28 win over Massillon in the 126th meeting between the two rivals in front of about 10,000 Saturday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Massillon, which ended the game at the Bulldog 35 after a reception, would have qualified for the Division II playoffs with a win. Instead, the Tigers head home with their first losing season (4-6) since 2004.
“Our kids fought hard,” Massillon first-year coach Nate Moore said. “Obviously, they’re really disappointed right now. … It’s tough to say goodbye, but you don’t get second chances.”
Robinson may have begged to differ. The McKinley quarterback – who played at Timken last season prior to the merger – had put his team in a 28-24 hole when, while being grabbed by the rushing Tiger defensive line, he threw an ill-advised pass right into the hands of Massillon defensive end Dakota Dunwiddie.
Dunwiddie picked the ball off at about the Bulldog 15 and returned it for a Tiger touchdown with 3:50 remaining. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Robinson was redeeming himself with the go-ahead touchdown, capping an 11-play, 69-yard McKinley scoring drive.
“I just had to regroup,” said Robinson, who rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns in his first appearance in the rivalry following the merger. “I had to get back. … When I play, I play for my seniors, and I was leaving them out. I had to get them a win.”
Robinson also threw for 272 yards on the day, while McKinley finished with 292 total passing and 418 total offensive yards. On the go-ahead drive, he hit passes of 18 yards on fourth-and-6 to Shaquille Perry and 13 yards on third-and-7 to Tre’On Vance.
The junior also had a pair of third-quarter scoring passes: 23-yards to Zay’Breyon Perry for a 18-14 lead and 5 yards to Vance – who played at Massillon last season – for a 24-21 edge.
The dramatic finish closed out a game that started with almost as big a flourish. Keyshawn Watson took the opening kickoff for Massillon and, after faking a handoff, raced 95 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Tiger lead 15 seconds into the game.
Robinson led McKinley on an answering drive, capping a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 5-yard run with 7:44 left in the first quarter. He also perfectly executed the swinging-gate play on the two-point conversion, giving the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead.
McKinley led 11-7 after a Sam Snyder field goal, but another big return for Massillon – this time a 40-yard punt return by Lee Hurst II to the Bulldog 31 – set it up to take the lead at the half. Watson capped that drive with a 1-yard run with 8:39 remaining in the half, giving the Tigers a 14-11 lead.
Watson, who topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the season, finished the day with 113 rushing yards. He accounted for Massillon’s only offensive touchdown of the game with that run, while his rushing yardage accounted for 60 percent of its total yardage.
Massillon only was able to muster 187 yards on 53 plays on the day. It also was stopped late in the first half on a fourth-down play from the Bulldog 11. “We weren’t able to get into an offensive rhythm,” Moore said. “We missed some throws; we had some missed assignments up front with protection. I think we had some dropped balls. Just can’t do those things.”
What helped the Tigers was their return game. They returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the game – Deionne Harper’s 89-yard return with 10:38 remaining in the third gave Massillon a 21-18 lead.
Massillon averaged 55 yards on five kickoff returns. Hurst’s big return was the lone punt return.
“Here’s the thing, I can’t tell you how much time we spent on special teams this week,” said first-year McKinley coach Dan Reardon, whose team heads into the Division I playoffs at 7-3.
“We normally spend a lot of time on special teams. We spent extra time on it this week.”
Ursuline rallies past Tigers Irish post 17 points in second half to knock off Massillon
By CHRIS EASTERLING The Independent
Youngstown, OH —
For the first three games of the season, the Massillon Tigers have been a strong third-quarter team. On Friday night at Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium, they had the tables turned on them by the state-ranked and unbeaten Ursuline Fighting Irish.
Leading by seven at halftime, the Tigers saw the Irish outscore them by two touchdowns in the third quarter as Ursuline pulled away for a 23-13 win to drop Massillon to 2-2 on the season. “Up front, I thought they did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “That’s high school football. They won the battle up front.”
The Tigers were held to just 30 yards in the second half, after gaining 136 in the first half. Ursuline had 153 of its 340 yards of offense after halftime.
Massillon must now regroup quickly, as a tough Garfield team visits Paul Brown Tiger Stadium next Friday. The Golden Rams are 2-1 with a game today against Akron North (3-0).
“It’s like I told our kids, it’s a true test of character for everybody,” Hall said. “It’s not always going to be easy. That’s what’s going to determine the rest of our season.”
The first half was all about Massillon and the opportunities it was presented by Ursuline mistakes.
The Tigers took the ball away from Ursuline – the No. 2-ranked team in Division V – three times in the first half, not counting a kickoff that Massillon fell on before the Irish could. The Tigers converted those into 13 points as the they grabbed a 13-6 halftime lead.
“We put ourselves in a bad situation,” said Ursuline coach Dan Reardon, whose team is 4-0. “I think good football teams find a way to win when you put yourself in a bad situation. We were fortunate we were able to do that.”
The first two Ursuline possessions ended in fumble recoveries by Massillon. The first was recovered by J.B. Price, which he brought back inside the Irish 35. However, a clipping penalty against Massillon moved the ball back to its own 48. That drive would never get going, and the Tigers would punt it back to the Irish.
On Ursuline’s second possession, the Tigers forced a second fumble after an Irish reception and Brian Arelt fell on it at the Irish 45. Massillon would march down to draw first blood, with Price capping the 12-play drive with a 1-yard run at the 1:02 mark of the first quarter for a 7-0 Tiger lead after the extra point.
Ursuline answered on its next drive, marching from its own 37 into the end zone in 10 plays, with Allen Jones running it in from one yard out for the score. However, the Irish tried the swinging gate on the point-after try, with Dale Peterman taking the direct snap. But the Tiger defense was up to the task, and stopped the two-point try to keep Massillon ahead 7-6 with 8:11 left in the first half.
A third Ursuline fumble in the first half – at its own 47 – gave Massillon a chance to pad its lead right before the intermission. Aided by a 30-yard pass from Michael Clark to J.T. Turner, the Tigers moved just outside the Irish 11.
Clark and Turner would hook up to give Massillon a 13-6 lead with 1:08 left until the band show. This time, it was a 13-yard strike to a wide-open Turner in the end zone. The PAT bounced off the upright to keep it a seven-point lead.
Massillon would get the ball right back when Tyler Miller recovered the kickoff at the Ursuline 21 after the Irish failed to cover the kick. But the Tigers failed to convert when a 39-yard field goal went just left with 32 seconds left in the half.
“Not scoring at the end of the first half really hurt us,” Hall said. “Looking back on that, that was huge. We needed some points there.”
The Tigers, though, started the second half as generous guests. Peterman intercepted a Massillon pass and returned it to the Tiger 15.
“That was an emotional swing in the game, obviously,” Hall said.
Two plays later, Darrell Mason scored on a 7-yard run for the tying score – after the extra point – just 1:07 into the second half.
Ursuline’s next possession – helped out by an 18-yard run on a fake punt – moved to the Massillon 5, where it was fourth-and-2. Dawalyn Harper managed to pick up the first down with a two-yard run, then scored from a yard out two plays later to give the Irish their first lead of the game at 20-13 with 48 seconds left in the third quarter.
Kevin Patrick added a 20-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the game for a 23-13 Irish lead.