Crusaders prevail in title game 30-7 Moeller ends Tiger ‘Cinderella Story’
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
Massillon’s 1980 Cinderella football team met its midnight Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.
Behind the record four-touchdown performance of senior fullback Mark Brooks, the Crusaders powered their way to a 30‑7 victory and a second straight state championship before 25,000 fans. It was also Moeller’s fifth title in the past six years.
The Tigers fell behind 14‑0 in the first quarter and never recovered as Moeller’s offensive and defensive lines dominated play against the out manned Tigers.
Moeller rolled to a 24‑0 halftime lead and were never threatened, despite a game effort by the Tigers.
“We made mistakes ourselves, and they made very few,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said afterwards. “That’s the ball game. You can’t do that against Moeller.”
“This is not run‑and‑shoot weather,” he said of the rainy, dreary weather, “It’s great weather for a big fullback.”
And Moeller’s 6‑2, 220‑pound Brooks was up to the task. He scored three touchdowns in the first half as he rushed for 84 yards in 23 carries. He finished the game with 133 yards in 33 carries, and his four touchdowns and 24 points are both playoff records.
“Brooks?” Currence asked rhetorically. “Ohio State could have used him against Michigan.”
If stopping Brooks wasn’t enough of a problem Moeller quarterback Mike Willging rifled several key passes and had five completions (in seven attempts) for 105 yard. Wide receiver Rob Williford caught four of those for 77 yards and Brook caught one for 28 yards.
Moeller outgained the Tigers 212‑42 in total yardage in the first half.
But despite the Crusaders’ offensive fireworks, it was a defensive play by halfback Rob Brown that hurt the Tigers the most.
Moeller took the opening kickoff and drove 61 yards in 13 plays with Brooks going over from three yards out. The Tigers had almost stopped the drive at their own 40, but halfback Tim King barely made a first down on fourth-and-one. Tony Milink kicked the extra point after the TD for a 7‑0 Moeller lead with 5:24 fell in the first quarter.
Massillon took the kickoff and started from its own 23. Quarterback Dave Eberhart went straight to the air, but his pass intended for Mike Feller on the right sideline was picked off by Brown at the 36 and returned to the 32.
Willging hit Brooks with a 28‑yard pass, and Brooks then scored from four yards out with 4:29 on the clock. Milink’s kick made it 14‑0.
The Tigers were hurt by the interception, but came back. They took the kickoff and drove to Moeller’s 22 yard line where they had a second‑and‑two.
But halfback Robert Oliver was thrown for a four-yard loss, Massillon was called for an illegal motion penalty, a pass from Eberhart to Oliver gained only a yard and Eberhart was sacked for an eight‑yard loss on fourth down, ending the threat, ending the first quarter, and just about ending any hopes the Tigers had of coming back.
Moeller took over at the Massillon 38 and drove 62 yards in 10 plays with Brooks diving over from a yard out. Willging kept that drive alive with a 35‑yard pass to Williford, and a nine‑yard pass to Williford on a third‑and‑six play that netted a first down at the Tiger four. Milink converted and it was 21‑0 with 7:23 to go in the half.
Massillon suffered another blow on its next possession when halfback Mike Jones injured his knee on a pass reception. Jones had gained 29 yards in live carries with some fine running, and at the time was just about the whole offensive attack for the Tigers. His knee was to be checked this morning.
Massillon punted and Moeller added its fourth straight score with five seconds left in the half when Milink kicked a playoff‑record 49‑yard field goal for a 24‑0 halftime bulge.
The Tigers came out in the third quarter and took it to the the Crusaders ‑ for a while.
They put together an opening drive that carried from their own 32 to the Moeller 12. The drive was highlighted by Eberhart’s passing, as he completed five for 44 yards. A roughing the kicker penalty also gave Massillon a needed first down at the Moeller 26.
But Eberhart’s 11th pass of the drive was intercepted by Mike Larkin at the five and returned to the 20.
Following an exchange of punts, Moeller drove deep into Tiger territory, but Ed Newman killed the threat when he fell on a fumble by Willging at his own six yard line.
Ron Davis recovered a Massillon fumble at the Tiger 21 in the final period, and Brooks capped the drive with his fourth and final TD of the day on a two‑yard run. Mike Loretto blocked Milink’s extra point try.
With under a minute to play. Jeff Grove recovered a fumble by reserve quarterback Tim Jolley at the Moeller 23.
With Just 20 seconds to play, Tiger backup quarterback Greg Radtka found Rick Boerner wide open for a 23‑yard TD pass Eberhart booted the extra point to complete the scoring.
We knew we had to throw on them,” Currence said. “Our quarterback threw an interception on our first play, but we settled him down and he came and threw well for us (Eberhart finished the game with nine completions in 19 attempts for 80 yards).
“We had a couple of sparks, and I thought we were going to put a couple in on them.
“There’s a lot of heart on this team, and it fought back all year. If we would have had a little more momentum, we might have comeback,” he said.
The Tigers finish the season as the Division playoff runnerup with a 10‑2‑1 record. Moeller went 13‑0 to take the title.
And now, Tiger fans need wait only 43 more weeks to prove they can give Moeller a better game than they did Sunday. On Saturday Sept. 19,1981, the two playoff finalists will square off in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
First downs rushing 2 11 First downs passing 6 4 First downs by penalty 1 2 Total first downs 9 17 Yards gained rushing 59 197 Yards lost rushing 64 18 Net Yards gained rushing -5 179 Net yards gained passing 103 109 Total yards gained 98 288 Passes attempted 20 11 Passes completed 10 6 Passes intercepted by 0 2 Yardage on passes intercepted 0 19 Times kicked off 2 6 Kickoff average 32.5 46.0 Kickoff return yardage 102 25 Punts 4 2 Punting average 36.5 35.5 Punt return yardage 0 0 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 3 Fumbles lost 1 2 Penalties 5 7 Yards Penalized 95 75 Touchdowns rushing 0 4 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of play 45 61 Total time of possession 20:35 27:25 Attendance 25,000
MOELLER 14 10 0 6 30 MASSILLON 0 0 0 7 7
MOE ‑ Mark Brooks 3‑yard run (Tony Milink kick) MOE ‑ Brooks 4‑yard run (Milink kick) MOE ‑ Brooks 1‑yard run (Milink kick) MOE ‑ Milink 49‑yard FG MOE ‑ Brooks 2‑yard run (kick blocked) MASS ‑ Rick Boerner 23‑yard pass from Greg Radtka (Dave Eberhart kick)
‘Still Tigers, and that’s what counts’ By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor “At the beginning of the season, people were saying we’d go 6-4,” Massillon senior center, Doug Eberhart was telling a group of reporters outside the Tiger lockerroom.
“But we ended up state runnersup. We’re still Massillon Tigers and that’s what counts.”
With that remark the Tigers’ only returning starter from a year ago excused himself and walked into the quiet team lockeroom. he had made his point. The long‑awaited match with Cincinnati Moeller had turned into an easy 30‑7 state championship game for coach Gerry Faust and his Crusaders.
Moeller dominated the game from beginning to end and claimed its second straight state title all fifth in the last six years.
They proved they are without a doubt the very best team in Ohio high school football. Maybe the best in the whole country.
And despite the defeat, the Tigers proved something too. They proved their tradition and spirit is still as strong as ever. And they proved that a lot of hard work – and a lot of heart ‑ can take a team a long way.
“We actually were inexperienced,” Tiger Coach Mike Currence said referring to his team at the start of the season.
“But there’s a lot of heart on this team and it fought back all year.”
The Tigers seemed destined on several occasions to fail to make the playoffs this year. They had a 10-0 season in 1979, but lost in the first playoff game. With almost the entire team graduating, it looked like an uphill battle to get back into the playoffs.
It was. The Tigers had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat Akron Garfield and Youngstown South.
They had to rebound from a 7‑7 tie against perennial nemesis Warren Harding – a tie that came on a long pass play just before the game ended.
The team did falter in the season final against Canton McKinley. But thanks to the expanded playoff format which qualifies the top two teams in each region they got another shot at the Bulldogs.
I an emotion packed contest, their pride refused to let them lose. A much maligned defense miraculously held the Bulldogs at bay as the Tigers won their first playoff game 14‑6.
The team did it again the following week when they routed Willoughby South in the semifinal game.
Suddenly, the team that was going nowhere was going to Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium to play Moeller for the state title.
That Moeller proved awesome and handled the Tigers easily should not detract from all the high points of this past season.
There will be other seasons and hopefully ‑ other state title games. But that will have to wait.
After the longest football season in Tiger history (13 games), this Massillon team deserves to be remembered for what it accomplished, and not for what it failed to do.
Moeller’s Faust pays Tribute to Tiger spirit By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor “I’ve never been so impressed with a city of people who back their high school like the city of Massillon.”
That’s what Moeller coach Gerry Faust called to say this morning. In all the celebrating Sunday after another state football title, Faust didn’t have much time to talk to reporters.
So he called this morning to pay his compliments to the team and people of Massillon.
Some 8,000 Massillon fans made the 4 1/2‑hour drive to Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium to see their Tigers play Moeller for the Division I football championship.
I was impressed not only with the cheering and spirit and complete dedication to the school, but also with their sportsmanship.” Faust said of the fans.
“It was really a great thrill for us to play the great Massillon. Just playing Massillon was really a highlight for us.
“I just want to say hats off to you people. You have fine tradition and fans. We don’t get impressed that easily, but it was as an unbelievable experience to witness the great Massillon family, It was a privilege for us to play them. I’m even more impressed now than I was before,” Faust added.
The Massillon fans were to be commended. They traveled en mass to see their Tigers. They decorated their cars in fine style for the long trip down, and they kept them decorated for what proved to be an even longer trip back.
And even when the Tigers weren’t fairing well on the field, they stayed and cheered. Despite the lopsided score and the persistent, drenching rain most of the Tiger fans stayed until the bitter end.
And their spirit never wavered, not even in the miserable ride home, through fog and rain.
At a roadside rest area just before the I-71 bridge over the little Miami River, a vanload of Tiger fans had stopped to wait out a traffic jam.
”We’ll get ’em next year one of them said. And the rest agreed (the two teams will meet Sept. 19, 1981 in the Akron Rubber Bowl).
The Tiger faithful had worn their orange and black colors proudly, even in defeat.
They were still proud of this Tiger team. A team that wasn’t supposed to go anywhere this season, but ended up going to the state title game.
This team had a lot of heart and never quit. And the same can be said of its fans.
“A lot of heart, a lot of pride’ Final hurdle for Tigers Saturday in Dayton
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“These kids have a lot of heart and a lot of pride,” Massillon Coach Mike Currence said after his team became the first in Tiger history to advance to the playoff championship game.
The Tigers, defeated Willoughby South 21‑6 in a semifinal playoff game Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl before 16,410 fans.
Now, they will meet four‑time champion Cincinnati Moeller Saturday night at 8 in Dayton’s Welcome Stadium, which seats only about 12,000.
The Tigers took command of the game early, scoring the first two times it had the ball for a 14‑0 first‑quarter lead.
The Tigers’ passing game came up with the big plays in those two drives, then the Massillon defense took over and stifled the Rebels the rest of the way.
The great team effort raised the Tigers’ record to 10-1-1 and set up the match with Moeller that Massillon fans have been waiting too since the middle 70s. Moeller has won the state title four of the past five years (missing only in 1978).
“We’re real happy to be in the hall game with Moeller.” Currence said. ”You know when you’re on the field you’ve got a chance to win. We won’t have any trouble getting up for Moeller. How we’ll play, I don’t know.
“Moeller presents the ultimate challege. Right now they’re the No. 1 team in the nation. How do you complete against them? You just have to play a great game against them.
“We think we’re back where we should be.” Currence said of the Tigers’ football program. “whether we beat Moeller has yet to be decided. I don’t know if anyone can beat Moeller. But these kids have a lot at heart.”
The Tiger defense, especially, showed a lot of heart for the second week fit a row. They played perhaps their best half of the season against South, holding them to minus 7 yards rushing and only 25 yards total in the first half. South netted only 104 yards for the whole game. After averaging over 30 points a game through its first 11 contests.
“The whole group just played as a team.” said Jim Letcavits, the Tigers defensive coordinator. “And the last two weeks, (defensive end) Paul Spinden has done one heck of a job.”
Spinden keyed a ferocious Tiger pass rush that sacked Regel quarterback Dan Smierciak five times for 31 yards in losses. Spinden had two sacks, linebacker Tim Manion and end William Askew had one each, and tackle Ed Newman and middle guard Jeff Grove shared a sack.
The Tigers also made four tackles for 10 yards in losses. Linebacker Rick Spielman had two of the tackles, Grove had one, and he and Manion shared one.
The Tiger offense also turned in a fine performance, at least for the most part. Quarterback Dave Eberhart said he thought the offense played excellent football for about 1 1/2 quarters. After the Tigers took their 14‑0 lead, he said, the offense got a little “lackadaisical.”
But the offense came up with the big plays in that first quarter, as Eberhart pulled the trigger on the run-and‑shoot.
Massillon kicked off to start the game, and following a Rebel punt the Tigers marched 52 yards in seven plays for a touchdown.
The drive had bogged down on the South 34, and Eberhart and Company faced a fourth‑and‑four. He passed over the middle to Mike Reese, who caught the ball at the 20, slanted to the right sideline and out streaked the coverage to the end zone. Eberhart’s kick was wide left and Massillon led 6‑0 with 7:59 to play fit the first quarter.
South was forced to punt again, and the Tigers took over on their own 34‑yard line. Eberhart went straight to the air, hitting Jeff Elliott with a perfect pass at the South 40, and Elliott raced all the way to the 17 to complete a 49‑yard play.
Long‑awaited clash to decide state title Tigers, Moeller to meet a year early By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“It looks like its going to be a year early.” Cincinnati Moeller coach Gerry Faust said immediately after he watched the Massillon Tigers beat Willoughby South 21‑6 Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl.
The win advanced the Tigers to Saturday’s Division I state playoff championship game against Faust’s Crusaders, the Class AAA defending champions.
The Tigers are scheduled to play Moeller early next season in the Akron Rubber Bowl, but by virtue of their two playoff wins will now tangle with the four‑time state champs in Dayton’s Welcome Stadium Saturday night.
“Massillon is a good football team,” Faust said after the game. “They have a lot of enthusiasm.”
That enthusiasm was rampant as the Tigers took the field in quest of their first semifinal playoff victory. Twice before ‑ in 1972 and 1979 ‑ they had failed pass this hurdle.
This time, there was no denying them.
Despite two back‑to‑back, emotion‑packed games against Canton McKinley, the Tigers were really psyched up for this game.
“We were just happy to be here,” quarterback Dave Eberhart said in the happy Massillon lockerroom after the game. “I didn’t know if we could get up again, but this was it. There was no second chance like against McKinley.”
‘The Tigers had lost to McKinley in the season finale, but turned around and beat the Bulldogs in the regional playoff title game.
Massillon coach Mike Currence said his team won’t have any trouble getting up for one more game. Not when the team they are playing is Moeller.
“Making the playoffs was our first goal of the season,” Eberhart said, noting that getting to play Moeller in the finals was the second goal.
The Tigers know they face an uphill battle against Moeller, who will be a heavy favorite to win their second straight state crown, and their fifth in the past six years.
“We’ll have to play four perfect quarters to stay in the game. If we play like tonight ‑ only good for a quarter-and‑a‑half we’ll get blown out. We got up (on Willoughby South) and then we eased off some.
“We had two good quarters where we handled them in the trenches, then we got lackadaisical the other two. We can’t do that if we want to give Moeller a good game.”
And while a lot of people aren’t giving the Tigers much of a chance against Moeller, Massillon coach Mike Currence put it this way: “You know when you’re on the field you have a chance to win.”
Currence said his team displayed “a lot of heart and a lot of pride.”
The Tiger offense came up with the big play and the defense turned in one of its most impressive performance of the season to hand South its first loss in 12 games.
The Tigers are now 10‑1‑1, marking the second straight season they have won 10 games. The two playoff wins so far this year also raise the Tigers’ postseason record to 2‑2 since the playoffs started in 1972, Massillon lost that year, and again last season.
This Tiger team has shown tremendous character in coming back from its season‑ending loss to Canton McKinley. Thanks to the expanded playoff format and Lakewood St. Edward’s loss to Cleveland St Joseph ‑ the Tigers piled up enough points to finish second in the Region 3 computer rankings and get another shot at McKinley.
They responded like true Tigers, topping the Pups 14‑6 in Canton ‘s Fawcett Stadium. They rode the momentum of that victory into the Rubber Bowl Saturday night and simply didn’t give the South Rebels a chance. They dominated the game both offensively and defensively.”
Rebel coach Jim Chapman said his team may have been bothered by the large crowd, most of whom were screaming, orange‑clad Tiger fans.
Once we settled down, we started playing some good ball. After the first quarter we played well. But we didn’t do a very good job of pass blocking.” he added.
The Tigers put on a fierce pass rush the whole game, sacking South quarterback Dan Smierciak five times.
One play that upset Chapman came in the second quarter with South behind 14‑0. With the ball at the Tigers’ 26 yard line, Smierciak hit Irv Tarrant with a screen pass, and Tarrant broke through the Tiger coverage and scampered all the way to the end zone. However, a clip at the 16 behind the runner brought the play back to the 31 and this time the Tiger defense held.
Chapman criticized the officials’ call.
“I’m upset with the officiating,” he said. “Obviously the calls hurt us. I’m not using that as an excuse though. Massillon deserved to win. Their first‑quarter execution was excellent.”
Mark Eberhard, South’s center and defensive tackle, left the game in the first quarter with a bruised eye and was unable to return.
The Tiger coaching staff did a good job of preparing the team for South. The defense was not surprised by anything the Rebels threw at them, and the play calling when the Tigers had the ball was excellent.
Now they must prepare their Tigers for the long awaited duel with Moeller. And they don’t mind that it’s one year earlier than planned .
First downs rushing 8 6 First downs passing 6 3 First downs by penalty 0 0 Total first downs 14 9 Yards gained rushing 190 83 Yards lost rushing 22 60 Net yards gained rushing 168 23 Net yards gained passing 135 81 Total yards gained 303 104 Passes attempted 11 18 Passes completed 6 6 Passes intercepted by 0 0 Yardage on passes intercepted 0 0 Times kicked off 4 2 Kickoff average 51.7 46.5 Kickoff return yardage 46 31 Punts 4 6 Punting average 30.0 40.3 Punt return yardage 29 0 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 4 3 Fumbles lost 2 2 Penalties 7 2 Yards penalized 50 20 Touchdowns rushing 2 1 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 56 53 Total time of possession 26:13 21:47 Attendance 16,410
WILL. SOUTH 0 0 0 6 ‑ 6 MASSILLON 14 0 0 7 ‑ 21
MASS ‑ Mike Reese 34‑yard pass from Dave Eberhart (kick failed) MASS ‑ Mike Jones 6‑yard run (Eberhart run) SOUTH ‑ Irv Tarrant 4‑yard run (run failed) MASS ‑ Eberhart 3‑yard run (Eberhart kick)
It’s Tigers, Moeller in finale By BOB STEWART Repository Sports Editor AKRON ‑ The Massillon Tigers scored the first two times they had the ball and roared into the finals of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I playoffs by whipping the Willoughby South Rebels 21‑6 before a crowd of 16,401 at the Rubber Bowl here Saturday night.
The victory upped the Tigers’ record to 10‑1‑1 and puts them in the championship game against defending title holder Cincinnati Moeller.
Moeller won its semifinal game Friday night 36‑0 over Upper Arlington. The site for Friday night’s championship game will be determined this afternoon at a meeting of OHSAA in Columbus.
Willoughby South unbeaten before it tangled with the Tigers, bowed out with a 12‑1 mark.
Massillon held the Rebels after the opening kickoff and then on its first possession drove 52 yards in 7 plays, saving the big play for last in the drive.
Facing a fourth‑and-4 situation at the 34, Massillon’s All‑County quarterback Dave Eberhart found split end Mike Reese open over the middle and tossed him a bullet, which Reese grabbed at full speed at the 25 and outran the Rebel secondary to complete the 34‑yard touchdown play.
Eberhart missed his placement and the Tigers led 6‑0 with only four minutes gone in the game.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Rebels managed one first down but again had to punt it away and the Tigers started on their own 34. This time the first play was the big one.
Eberhart went back to pass for only the second time of the game and completed a 48‑yard bomb to end Jeff Elliott, putting the ball at the 17.
Mike Jones gave the Tigers 7 yards in two rushes, then after Bob Oliver rushed for a first down at the 6, Jones slipped off the right side and dove into the end zone for a 6‑yard scoring jaunt.
Eberhart then converted a two pointer by rolling to his right and scampering into the corner of the end zone to make it 14-0 with 2:13 left in the first period.
South mounted its only threat of the first half early in the second period when it drove to the Tigers’ 25 before turning the ball over on downs.
The Rebels had an apparent touchdown pass nullified by a clipping penalty two plays before they gave up the ball. Quarterback Dan Smierciak hit halfback Irv Tarrant, who got loose on what looked like a 36-yard TD, but a clipping penalty brought the ball back to the Tigers 31 and the Rebels couldn’t get a first down.
Massillon thwarted another threat just before the half when Eberhart’s pitch missed its mark and South’s Pave Orahoske covered the ball on the Tiger’s 29.
On the first play, Ed Newnan broke through to sack the quarterback and three pass incompletions after that gave the ball to Massillon with 50 seconds left and the Tigers ran out the clock to end the half.
The Tigers took the second‑half kickoff and marched the ball deep into South territory.
Eberhart came out throwing, hitting end Mike Feller with a 13‑yard pass on the first play of the third quarter. Then Eberhart scrambled for 17 yards to put the ball at the South 38.
Two plays later Eberhart hit Oliver for a 16‑yard completion, but three plays after that Eberhart’s attempt at a 37‑yard field goal missed by a mile.
After an exchange of punts, South caught fire early in the fourth period. Smierciak ignited the Rebels with a 35‑yard pass completion to split end Brian Huff, and with Tarrant ripping holes in the Tiger’s line, South put the ball in the end zone with 8:11 remaining in the game.
Tarrant’s 4‑yard touchdown run capped the 84‑yard, 10‑play drive in which he personally gained 26 yards in five carries.
On the conversion attempt, after the Tigers drew a half‑the‑distance penalty for encroachment, the Rebels lined up as if to kick the PAT. But holder Rob Hehr rose and rolled to his right, looking for a receiver. When he couldn’t find one he tried to run it in but was buried by several Massillon defenders.
The Tigers seemed stunned by the effrontery of the score and moved the ball from their own 37 to the South 31, with Jones breaking gallops or 17 and 11 yards. But a fumble turned the ball over at the Rebel 26.
Four plays later the Rebels punted from their own 21 with the roar of the Massillon crowd in their ears after a superb defensive job by Tiger linebacker Jeff Grove.
With just over five minutes remaining, the Tigers mounted their final scoring drive as Jones dashed 19 yards to put the ball at the Rebels’ 28. Six plays later Eberhart sneaked into the end zone from 3 yards out, then kicked the placement that wrapped up scoring and the game with 1:23 left.
The Tigers wound up with it 303‑104 edge in total yards for the game, piling up 14 first downs to South’s 9. Eberhart completed 6 of 10 passes for 135 yards. Jones gained a net 91 yards rushing in 19 attempts.
South managed a mere 23 yards net rushing. The Rebels were 6 of 8 in passing for 81 yards. Tarrant carried 18 times for a net 35 yards for the Rebels.
Massillon ran 56 plays to South’s 53, but held a time advantage over South, keeping the ball 26:13 to 21‑47.
Massillon was penalized seven times for 50 yards, while South suffered twice for 20. Massillon fumbled four times. South three times, and each team lost two of them.
Massillon converted on 7 of 12 third‑down situations, including 4 of 6 in the first half, while the Rebels could convert only 4 of 13 third downs.
The Tigers’ tenacious defense was led, not only by Grove, but by halfback Jeff Spicer, who broke up several passes and linebacker Rick Spielman.
Tigers beat McKinley 14-6 for first state playoff win
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers had the last words Friday night before an overflow crowd in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
“Massillon Tigers No. 1! Massillon Tigers No. 1!” Players and coaches shouted it out over and over in the jubilant Massillon lockerroom after the Tigers won their first playoff game in history by defeating the McKinley Bulldogs 14‑6.
“I couldn’t believe our defense,” said Tiger Coach Mike Currence, who brought his team back from the ashes of last Saturday’s 16‑7 loss to these same Bulldogs in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I don’t know what the difference is,” he said, referring to the way the Tiger defense halted the Bulldogs on all five of their second‑half possessions, four of which carried into Massillon territory. Last Saturday, the Tigers’ defense yielded over 300 yards and allowed McKinley to control the ball game.
Friday night it was a slightly different defense, and a whole new story.
“We just wanted the ball game more than they did,” Currence said. “It was unbelievable.”
Currence said the win, which gives the Tigers the Division I, Region 3 championship and advances them to the state playoff semifinals, was his most important in five years as the Tigers’ coach.
“This is the biggest one,” he said. “because we did something no other Massillon team ever did: we won a playoff game. And beating McKinley made it doubly nice.”
The Tigers’ next opponent in the playoffs will probably be Willoughby South which defeated Cleveland St Joseph 14‑3 Friday night. There’s also a good chance the game will be played Saturday night in the Akron Rubber Bowl. The semifinal games were supposed to be played on Friday night but the Akron City Series game was already scheduled for that night in the Rubber Bowl.
The final decisions on who Massillon will play, and when and where will be made Sunday by Ohio High School Athletic Association officials.
Back in the Tiger lockerroom Currence continued his praise of the defense.
“I thought our offense was going to give it away there. Thank God the defense wanted it.”
He revealed that two starting defensive players suffered injuries in last week’s game and were unable to play, Linebacker John Mayles broke his hand, and defensive end Bob Dodd tore ligaments in his knee.
“We had to go with some more quickness in there. It was a combination of the injuries and putting quicker kids in,” Currence explained. “But we didn’t know if the younger kids could do the job.”
William Askew took Dodd’s place at defensive end, and Rick Spielman took over Mayles’ linebacker spot. Mark Haubert also played some linebacker. All are juniors.
The Bulldogs still managed to run the bill effectively – except on fourth down attempts ‑ but their passing game just wasn’t the same as it was last week.
“We put a little more pressure on (Rick) Worstell,” Currence said, “and we had better coverage by our secondary. Paul Turner did a great job on Todd Fisher, and clinic tip with the big interception.”
A big play by linebacker Tim Manion set up the Tigers’ first touchdown in the second quarter.
McKinley had driven into Massillon territory, when Mike Lynch was hit by middle guard Jeff Grove and fumbled the football at the 41. Manion scooped the ball up and raced 40 yards to the McKinley 19.
Quarterback Dave Eberhart hit Mike Feller with a 12‑yard pass for a first down at the seven. Two plays later a pass interference penalty gave the Tigers a first down at the three. An offside penalty against Massillon moved the ball back to the eight, and Eberhart ran a keeper to the left on the next play. He was hit at the three yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone where fullback Don Fulton pounced on it for a touchdown with 9:31 to play in the half. Eberhart booted the conversion for a 7‑0 lead.
The Bulldogs came right back with a 74‑yard drive that took 15 plays and consumed 7:51 on the clock. Worstell scored from a yard out with 1:40 left in the half, but a pass for the extra points failed and the Tigers took a 7‑6 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
The Tigers took the kickoff to open the second half, and drove 80 yards ‑ with the help of three Bulldog penalties ‑ for the game’s final touchdown.
Eberhart hit Mike Reese with a pass over the middle from the Pups’ 12 yard line. The senior wide receiver caught the ball at the three, sliced past a defender and fell over the goal line with 7:19 to play. Eberhart added the extra point for a 14‑6 Tiger lead.
The drive was aided several times by the penalties against McKinley.
On second‑and‑10 from his own 20, Eberhart hit halfback Mike Jones with a 16‑yard pass for a first down. Fifteen more yards were added on when a Bulldogs player was called for a personal foul, putting the ball on the McKinley 49.
Two plays later, the Bulldogs were called for pass interference, giving Massillon first down at the 36. The Dogs were also called for an offside penalty later in the drive, and for another personal foul on the touchdown play, with the yardage being assessed on the kickoff.
The Bulldogs then took the ensuing kickoff and started driving again, Their drive started with 7:19 to go in the third quarter, and they had the ball at Massillon’s 15 yard line on fourth‑and‑two when the period ended.
The Bulldogs’ first play of the final period set the tone for the rest of the game, when Grove and Spielman stopped the Pups’ Mike Simms for only a one‑yard gain, with Massillon taking over on downs at their own 14.
Eberhart wasted no time in going straight to the air, but his first two passes were batted down (by Gary Pounds and Troy Sanders), and one was almost intercepted.
On third down, Scott Dixon sacked Eberhart back at his own four yard line. Eberhart then punted the ball out to the 41.
Again McKinley mounted a drive. This time, on fourth‑and‑one at the 14. Spielman and defensive end Paul Spinden stopped Lynch for no gain and the Tigers took over.
But on third down, Eberhart was intercepted at his own 24 yard line by Chris Wade. Following an incomplete pass Grove sacked Worstell for a four‑yard loss. On third down, Worstell hit Fisher, but the play netted only four yards. On fourth‑and‑10, Worstell passed to Sidney Lewis coming out of the backfield, but defensive back Mike Loretto knocked him out of bounds two yards short of the first down at the Tiger 16.
The Tigers couldn’t move the ball again, and this time Eberhart punt went off the side of his foot and out of bounds 26 yards downfield at the 44.
On first down, Worstell’s pass was intercepted at the 40 by Turner, who returned it to the McKinley 30. A clipping penalty brought the ball back to the Tiger 41, and with just 2:42 left to play the Tigers looked like they had it in the bag.
However, on fourth down from midfield, Eberhart’s punt was blocked by Wade, and the Bulldogs had life at their own 49 with 1:03 to play,
The Tiger secondary was ready for the final challenge, and Worstell threw three straight incompletions.. He had a man open out of the backfield on second down, but good pressure by Askew forced a bad pass.
On fourth down, Spielman sacked Worstell when he couldn’t find an open receiver and that was the ball game.
We tried hard and we played very bad a downcast Terry Forbes said of his team’s effort. “You have to hand it to Massillon’s defense for hanging in there,” the Pup coach added.
So it won’t be a long, cold winter for Tiger fans after all. It may have been a miserable six days, but it’s like the sign – the one on the hoop the Tigers ran through before the game ‑ said: “ Win the One That Counts.”
They did, and that’s why the Tigers will be playing in the playoff semifinals next weekend while the Bulldogs will be staying home.
Tigers trip Bulldogs 14‑6 Massillon turns the tables by capitalizing on big turnover By BOB STEWART Repository Sports Editor The mighty Massillon High Tigers, calling on three‑quarters of a century of football tradition ‑ and a quick thank you for the miscues – knocked the McKinley Senior High Bulldogs out of the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs 14‑6 Friday night.
The sellout Crowd of some 20,000 at Fawcett Stadium watched the 86th meeting of the Bulldogs and Tigers since 1894, and the second in six days. Saturday, McKinley spanked the Tigers 16‑7 in Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium before 21,745.
Friday night’s win in what was the Division I quarter‑final game for Region No. 3, puts Massillon in the semifinals next week. The Tigers apparently will play Eastlake Willoughby South, a victor last night over Cleveland St. Joseph, next Saturday night in Akron’s Rubber Bowl.
The official pairings will not be made until Sunday in the OHSAA Offices in Columbus. Massillon tickets will be put on sale at Tiger Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is the biggest game since I’ve been here,” said an emotion‑racked Mike Currence, who as coach of the Tigers has won five out‑of six battles with the Bulldogs in his five seasons.
McKinley’s first‑year Coach Terry Forbes, hailed as the conquerering hero last week, found the words hard to come by. “It was very frustrating,” Forbes said, referring particularly to the final period when Massillon looked as though it was trying to give it away, and McKinley couldn’t grasp the brass ring.
McKinley had the ball five times in the fourth quarter ‑ four times in Massillon territory ‑ and three of those times inside the Tiger’s 20‑yard line, but came away empty.
The Tiger defense rose to the occasion in spite of its sputtering offense in the final canto.
McKinley opened the fourth period with a fourth‑and‑three on the Tigers’ 15, and Mike Simms was stopped after a yard gain and the Tigers took over on their own 14 with all but four seconds remaining in the final stanza.
Currence then shocked his followers as Massillon quarterback Dave Eberhart put the ball in the air two straight times, one batted down, the other missed, and both nearly intercepted. The third down play looked like another pass, but McKinley’s Scott Dixon smashed through from his defensive end post to sack Eberhart clear back at the 4.
Eberhart punted out, and McKinley’s Bob Davie returned it 10 yards to give the Pups position at the Tiger 41.
Bulldogs lose rematch
McKinley quarterback Rick Worstell moved his club to the 14, but on a fourth‑and‑one there, Mike Lynch was nailed by the center of the Tiger line and Massillon again took it over at the 14, with 8:12 remaining.
Massillon ran twice, but with third‑and‑seven at the 17, Eberhart put it up, and McKinley’s Chris Wade took the aerial away from intended receiver Mike Feller.
In business with 6:38 left at the Tiger 24, Worstell missed on a pass to Sid Lewis, and then Tiger linebacker Jeff Grove sacked Worstell for a 4‑yard loss. The Pups’ junior quarterback got it back with a 4-yarder to Todd Fisher, and on fourth‑and 10, Worstell hit Lewis over the middle, but the speedster couldn’t get loose and picked up only 8 of the needed 10 yards.
Massillon took over on its 16 with 4:53 left.
Eberhart punted out of bounds at the Tiger 44 four plays later, and the Bulldogs started with 2:42 left.
This time disaster struck early.
On first down, Paul Turner picked off Worstell’s aerial on his own 39, and returned it all the way to the McKinley 30. A clipping penalty put the ball back to the Tiger 41, but Massillon had the ball with 2:30 left.
When the Tigers got nine yards in three plays, Eberhart went back to punt again, but this time McKinley’s Wade blocked the kick, and teammate Tony Parsons fell on it at the Bulldogs’ 48.
There was 1:08 remaining. Worstell threw three times, two of them deep, all incomplete. On fourth down with only 43 seconds left. he couldn’t find a receiver, and was sacked, ironically, by Rick Spielman, the son of former Timken Coach Sonny Spielman, who played for Timken last year and moved to Massillon when his dad was named an assistant there this summer.
Ahead 7‑6 at halftime, Massillon took the second‑half kickoff 80 yards in 10 plays, aided by two 15‑yard penalties against the Pups. The final TD was a 12‑yard pass from Eberhart to senior end Mike Reese, who caught the ball at the two and dove over the goal line.
McKinley took the ensuing kickoff and rolled from its own 20 to the Tigers’ 15 when the quarter ended, and started the fourth period with the ill‑fated fourth‑down play. The 15‑play drive consumed the final 7:19 of the third period.
McKinley never was ahead in the game, but threatened in the first period when Eberhart missed a 29-yard field goal attempt.
Tim Manion’s 44‑yard return of a Mike Lynch fumble set up the fist Massillon score, putting the ball on the Pups’ 19, from where Eberhart passed to Feller for 12 yards, and then after Bob Oliver ran for a yard, McKinley was called for pass interference, giving the Tigers an automatic first down at the 3.
After a motion penalty put the Tigers back to the 8, Eberhart rolled to his left and got to the 3, where he was hit by several McKinley defenders and coughed up the ball, which squirted into the end zone to be covered by Massillon’s Don Fulton for the touchdown 9:31 before the band show.
McKinley brought its followers to life as the Pups showed the offensive punch of last week, marching 74 yards in 15 plays with Worstell hammering in from the 1 on a quarterback sneak with 1:40 left in the half. The drive was aided by a 15‑yard personal foul penalty on the Tigers, but the Pups also got a 14‑yard jaunt from Mike Simms during the march, and an 18‑yard Worstell‑to‑Fisher pass put the ball at the 1. Fullback Dwayne Randle hit the Tigers twice in the middle without success before Worstell sneaked it in.
Then came a big play. Down 7‑6, Forbes elected to go for two, and Worstell’s pass was on the mark to Lewis at the goal line, but he couldn’t hold it.
It was as close as the Pups would get this season.
While McKinley had an edge in some of the statistics, the Pups came far from the domination they showed over the Tigers last week.
McKinley outrushed the Tigers Friday night 142‑64, but Massillon had a slight edge in passing yards, 72‑69, even though Eberhart hit 6 of 8 and Worstell 8 of 16.
McKinley had the edge in time of possession, 26 minutes to 22, and McKinley converted 5 of 9 third down situations (3 of 4 in the first half), while the Tigers converted only 2 of 5 in the first half and none in four second half tries.
Flags flew frequently, as each team drew eight penalties, McKinley for 83 yards, Massillon for 70.
Simms was the game’s leading rusher with 86 yards, Fisher the top receiver with four catches for 44 yards.
But the “game, set and match” went to Massillon, and it kept several streaks alive.
For example, despite the fact Massillon was in the playoffs for the third time, and McKinley for the second time, the winner of the regular season McKinley‑Massillon game has yet to win the playoff game the following week.
It also means McKinley still has never beaten Massillon at night. The last time the two teams played under the lights, in 1963, Massillon won, and went on to also win the second meeting that year, in daylight.
This was the 10th time the two teams have meet twice in the same season, but McKinley has not won both since 1909.
The end of the game was marked by several altercations, mostly outside of the stadium.
Police Lt. Wayne Arnold said two arrests were made during the game and about three or four after the game. Suspects were charged with either disorderly conduct or assault, Arnold said.
Police didn’t have details of the arrests Friday night, but Arnold said there was “a lot of commotion” in the Fawcett Stadium area.
Mas ‑ Don Futton covered fumble in end zone (Dave Eberhart kick) McK ‑ Rick Worstell 1 run (Pass failed) Mas ‑ Mike Reese 12 pass from Dave Eberhart (Dave Eberhart kick)
Att ‑ 20,000 (est.)
Mass McK First downs rushing 3 11 First downs passing 5 2 First downs penalty 3 1 Total first downs 11 14 Rushes‑yards 32‑64 44‑142 Passing-yards 72 69 Return yards 66 33 Passes 6‑8‑1 8‑16‑2 Punts 2‑37 1-34 Fumbles‑lost 1‑0 2‑1 Penalties‑yards B‑70 8‑83
RUSHING ‑ Massillon, Oliver 9‑29, Fulton 6‑17, Jones 5‑7, Eberhart 9‑7, Huth 3‑4. McKinley, Simms 16‑86, Randle 11‑34, Lynch 5‑20, Snell 1‑6, Worstell 8‑minus‑2, Lewis 3‑minus‑2.
PASSING ‑ Massillon, Dave Eberhart 6‑8‑1‑72 McKinley, Worstell 8‑16‑2‑69.
RECIEVING ‑ Massillon, Jones 3‑32, Feller 2‑28, Reese 1‑12. McKinley, Fisher 4‑44, Lewis 2‑15, Giavasis, 1‑9, Dixon 1‑11.
Tiger pride comes alive in playoff win McKinley 14‑6 victim in regional title game By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor “This is what it’s all about,” Doug Eberhart screamed above the happy mayhem in the Massillon Tigers’ lockerroom.
The senior center was holding up a T‑shirt with lettering that read “MASSILLON TIGERS” across it. And in between was the word “PRIDE.”
That’s what produced the Tigers’ 14‑6 win over the Canton McKinley Bulldogs before over 20,000 fans in Canton’s Fawcett Stadium Friday night.
The Tigers were still smarting from last Saturday’s 16‑7 spanking at the hands of the Pups, but they had the desire it took to change the outcome this time.
It was a gutsy performance. One earned more on emotion and desire than on talent and execution.
The Tigers’ defense, embarrassed last weekend in the loss to the Bulldogs, turned in a simply incredible performance.
Five times in the second half they turned back the Bulldogs. Twice on fourth down and short yardage inside their own 20 yard line.
“Unbelievable,” Tiger Coach Mike Currence said.
He could offer no explanation for his defense’s dramatic turnaround, except to say his players simply wanted it more than the Bulldogs.
“We made a few changes on defense, but determination was the key factor,” Tiger middle guard Jeff Grove said.
“We wanted this game so bad. We wanted to go out and win the ball game, and that’s what we did,” he added.
One of the unlikely defensive heroes was junior Rick Spielman. He was a starting linebacker last year for the Timken, Trojans, but this year he was the team’s backup quarterback. When John Mayles broke his hand in last week’s game, Spielman started practicing at linebacker again.
“I was real excited about getting to play,” said Spielman, whose father, Sonny, is the Tigers’ quarterback and wide receiver coach.
“I played linebacker last year and after a couple of plays it all came back to me,” he explained.
Spielman was in on the tackle both times that the Tigers stopped the Bulldogs on fourth down and short yardage, He also sacked McKinley quarterback Worstell to end the Pups’ final chance with less than a minute to play.
“Ah, great,” Spielman said when asked how he felt after that sack.
That was the same reply defensive halfback Paul Turner gave when asked about his interception that thwarted a fourth‑quarter drive by the Bulldogs.
That “as a big play, since it came immediately following a poor punt that gave the Bulldogs possession at the Tiger 44 yard line.
Turner had a big job ‑ covering McKinley’s Todd Fisher, a big, fast wide receiver who gave the Tigers fits last week. Currence credited Turner with doing ‘a great job” covering Fisher.
Junior William Askew also did a fine job stepping into the breach. Defensive end Bob Dodd tore knee ligaments in last week’s game, and Askew helped defensive tackle Ed Newman hold down the right side of the Tigers’ defensive line.
And senior defensive tackle Bob James, who had a rough time last week, called on his pride to help Paul Spinden anchor the left side of the defensive line.
Then there was Tim Manion, a junior who was too talented to sit the bench as a backup quarterback and was moved to linebacker in the pre‑season. He came through in fine style.
Manion picked up a tumble caused by middle guard Jeff Grove and returned it 40 yards to set up the team’s first touchdown.
Turner’s mates in the secondary, Mike :Spicer, Mike Loretto and Dwayne Boss, improved their coverage to help upset the McKinley passing game.
And the Tigers’ offense, while almost blowing the game in the second half, still managed to put enough points on the board. And more importantly, managed to control the ball for at least almost as long as the Bulldogs.
The Tigers’ came out throwing, and the difference this time was that the offensive line gave quarterback Dave Eberhart time to pass. His 12-yard toss to Mike Reese in the third quarter was the clinching touchdown.
All in all, it was a team effort. From the players and coaching staff right down to the fans.
Currence had special praise for the Tiger fans, who started raising a ruckus before the game started and were still carrying on into the wee hours of the morning.
When told that some of the McKinley fans started leaving the game with four‑and‑a‑half minutes still to play, Currence said: “Their fans don’t compare to our fans. Our fans stay with us to the bitter end. That’s the difference between a Bulldog and a Tiger.
“We didn’t get one bad remark from anyone last week,” Currence pointed out. “They had confidence we’d come back.”
The win now gives the Tigers a 48-33-5 edge in the storied rivalry, and gives Currence a 5‑1 record against the Bulldogs.
Also, for the first time in their history, the Tigers won a playoff game. They had suffered losses in 1972 and 1979 in their only other playoff appearances.
Now they will advance to the Division I playoff semifinals, and will probably play Willoughby South, a 14‑3 winner over Cleveland St. Joseph Friday night.
It was as a Friday night no Tiger fan will ever forget. And a Tiger team Massillon will always be proud of.
First downs 3 11 First downs passing 5 2 Total first downs 12 15 Yards gained rushing 85 156 Yards lost rushing 19 17 Net yards gained rushing 66 139 Net yards gained passing 72 70 Total yards gained 138 209 Passes attempted 10 16 Passes completed 6 8 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 1 0 Times kicked off 3 2 Kickoff average 50.0 50.0 Kickoff return yardage 27 22 Punts 3 1 Punting average 25.3 33.0 Punt return yardage 0 15 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 1 3 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 8 9 Yards penalized 70 83 Touchdowns rushing 0 1 Touchdowns passing 1 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 1 0 Total number of plays 42 58 Total time of possession 21.11 25.49 Attendance 20,550
MASSILLON 0 7 7 0 ‑ 14 McKINLEY 0 6 0 0 ‑ 6
MASS – Don Fulton recovered fumble in end zone (Dave Everhart kick) McK ‑ Rick Worstell one yard run (pass failed) MASS ‑ Mike Reese 12‑yard pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick)
Player ‘knew’ Tigers could do it By STEVE DOERSCHUK Big victories never fit into small locker rooms.
Following their 14‑6 Division I football playoff victory Friday over McKinley Senior High, the Massillon Tigers crammed into Fawcett Stadium dressing quarters like so many 190‑pound sardines ‑ lively ones at that.
The room or the Tigers ‑ it was hard to tell which ‑ jumped. Young men and grown men did nasty numbers on their voice boxes in conveying the idea the program Paul Brown built is numero uno.
There had been talk last Saturday following McKinley’s 16‑7 regular season win over these Tigers that Bulldogs’ coach Terry Forbes is Canton’s Moses.
“Moses only saw the promised land. He didn’t get in it,” Massillon assistant Nick Vrotsos said with a wink.
Center Doug Eberhart who helped give his twin brother Dave, Massillon’s quarterback., protection he lacked last week, expressed himself with wailing instead of wit
“I knew we could do it!” he shouted repeatedly at the top of his lungs.
If the Tigers are to reach their promised land, they must “do it”.
Tigers jubilant over victory
“We may wind up playing Moeller,” Massillon head coach Mike Currence said with a peculiar smile.
Cincinnati Moeller won its first round playoff contest 28‑3 over Cincinnati Princeton Friday. Moeller and Massillon will clash if both teams win semifinal games next weekend.
Lots of heroes helped the Tigers stay alive in the chase for a state crown.
Senior defensive back Paul Turner was one.
Turner provided good single coverage on star McKinley end Todd Fisher. With Massillon leading 14-6 at the 2:30 mark of the final period, he picked off a pass that all but put the decision on ice.
“A defensive end was putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback” Turner said. “I knew I’d have a good chance of getting to the ball. Man, that was a good feeling.”
Putting Turner on Fisher was one of several changes made in the Massillon defense since last week when McKinley, racked up a 313‑96 edge in total offense. Some of the changes resulted from injuries Currence admitted he “kept quiet.” A knee injury sidelined senior defensive end Bob Dodd. Senior linebacker John Mayles was out with a broken hand.
“We used a quarterback Rick Spielman, at linebacker, and a tackle, Bill Askew, at end,” Currence said. “They played well.”
Currence said he assigned Turner to single coverage on the dangerous Fisher because “he was our only guy fast enough to do the job.”
Like Turner, Tim Manion stood tall.
Manion, expected to battle Spielman next year for the quarterback job, scooped up a Mike Lynch fumble in the second quarter and ran 37 yards to the McKinley 19-yard line to set up the game’s first touchdown.
“Jeff Grove hit him (Lynch), and the ball came loose. I picked it up and knew what to do with it,” Manion said.
Manion thought pressuring Pup quarterback Rick Worstell kept McKinley from repeating last weed’s performance, although the Tigers’ play against the run enabled them to shut off three fourth-quarter McKinley penetrations inside the 20-yard line.
“Rush their quarterback and you shut them down,” echoed senior tackle Ed Newman. “We played better. Coming off a loss, we had to.”
Dave Eberhart hit rough sledding in the 16‑7 loss but bounced back to complete six tosses for 72 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown strike to Mike Reese that capped an 80-yard march beginning when the Tigers received the second‑half kickoff.
“That throw to Mike was a new pass play we used for this game,” Eberhart said. “A couple of new plays helped us throw them off balance.
“We had to go all out for this game and not be conservative.”
The let‑it‑all‑hang‑out approach was evident in the late stages when Eberhart kept throwing despite the fact Massillon was deep in its own territory and clinging to the 8-point lead. Two of his passes were batted and nearly picked off by McKinley linemen during one fourth‑period possession.
“I probably should have been shot for putting pressure on Dave like that,” smiled Currence. “We have a lot of confidence in him.”
Currence was ecstatic.
“I’ve finally done something no other coach has done at Massillon, won a playoff game,” he said in reference to the fact the Tigers lost their only other playoff games, in 1972 and 1979.
Currence reserved special praise for the assistant coaches who installed a “50″ defense in place of the “4‑4” used last weekend. They include Jim Letcavits, Dale Walterhouse, Gary Wells and LaVerne Hose.
“The new look helped us get a better pass rush and contain their outside running game,” Currence said.
He praised his players for “being so fired up. ‑ 1
“McKinley beat us up last week,” he said. “I think we had something to prove.”
Words come hard for Pups’ pilot Splendid season ends in frustrating loss
By BILL LILLEY The stroll from the south side team bench at Fawcett Stadium to the McKinley Senior lockerroorn is about 60 yards.
Friday night, however, the trudge must have felt more like 60 miles to McKinley Senior Coach Terry Forbes afte the Bulldogs’ 14‑6 loss, to Massillon in a Division I quarterfinal playoff game.
Losing doesn’t come naturally to most, and to Forbes during his eight year career losing has been an infrequent incident as attested by his 60‑13-2 record entering the rematch with Massillon.
This loss was the toughest one to swallow for Forbes and left the veteran coach nearly speechless as he groped to find the right words for both his players and the media.
“I just don’t know what to say.” I’m proud of the character displayed by our young men, both in the victory over Massillon last Saturday and in this game.
“We played to win and that’s just the way it goes.”
For Forbes and the Bulldogs it was a tough way to go, especially after last Saturday’s 16‑7 win over Massillon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. It not only ended a four‑year winning streak by the Tigers in the 86‑year classic, but catapulted the Bulldogs into first place in the Region 3 computer standings.
What made it tougher was the manner in which the Bulldogs’ eight‑game winning streak ended.
Although McKinley didn’t dominate as it had last week when the Bulldogs out gained Massillon 313‑96 in total offense, they still held a convincing 211‑136 advantage. Senior was 8 of 16 for 69 yards.
It didn’t seem to bother McKinley Senior that Massillon held a 7‑6 halftime edge. After all, that had been the standing a week ago and, ironically the Tigers’ touchdowns in both instances had been set up by an outstanding defensive play.
And even though Massillon tacked on another touchdown on its first possession of the second half, something else frustrated Forbes more.
The Bulldogs picked the most inopportune time of an otherwise great season to have trouble finding their way into the end zone. Three times in the crucial fourth quarter McKinley Senior cracked the Massillon 20-yard line only to come away empty‑handed as the Tiger defense proved to bendable but unbreakable.
The initial frustration came on the yard line, but Mike Lynch was stopped cold on a fourth-and-three run.
The Bulldogs’ defense forced Massillon to punt three plays later. Tiger punter Dave Eberhart hit a 47-yard punt that was returned 10 yards by Bob Davie to give McKinley possession on the Tiger 41-yard line.
This time the Bulldogs drove to the Massillon 14 from where Lynch was again gang‑tackled for no gain on fourth‑and‑one with 8:12 left.
McKinley Senior linebacker Chris Wade gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Massillon 24 three plays later when the senior picked off an Eberhart aerial.
The Bulldogs went to air this series, but were shot down by the Tiger pass defense. Worstell’s fourth‑and‑10 pass to Sidney Lewis came up two yards short and Massillon had the ball on its own 16 with 4:53 remaining.
The Bulldogs’ defense wouldn’t budge and again gave its offense excellent field position. Eberhart, whose booming 65‑yard punt had helped set up Massillon’s lone score in the first encounter, shanked a 27‑yarder out of bounds at the Massillon 44 with 2:42 to play.
This time, however, there was no heart stopping drive as Tiger back Paul Turner picked off a Worstell pass at the Massillon 39 on the next play.
And when Eberhart’s final punt was blocked by Wade with 1:08 left to give the Bulldogs the ball near midfield, Forbes knew his team had squandered its real opportunities to win the game.
“We played very badly at some critical times,” said Forbes, whose team closes its season with a 9‑2 mark.
“But, you also have to hand it to Massillon’s defense for hanging in there. That was the game.”
And to Forbes and his Bulldogs it must have been a very frustrating game, indeed.
Meet McKinley in playoffs Tigers will get another Chance Friday
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers won’t have to wait a whole year to gain revenge for the 16‑7 loss the McKinley Bulldogs inflicted on them Saturday afternoon in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers will be going to the playoffs for the second straight year, but not on the basis of their performance on Saturday.
The Bulldogs simply outplayed the Tigers both offensively and defensively to raise their record to 9‑1 and grab first place in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings.
The Tigers’ 8‑1‑1 record still produced enough points to net them second place, thanks to Lakewood St. Edward ‘s loss to Cleveland St. Joseph Saturday night.
So now, we’ll do it all over again when the Tigers travel to Canton’s Fawcett Stadium for the Region 3 championship game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
That may be the end of the road for the Tigers, however, unless they dramatically improve upon the kind of performance they turned in Saturday before the 21,754 fans who packed Tiger Stadium to see the 85th meeting between the two schools,
The Bulldogs unleashed a bevy of fast, hard‑running backs who totaled 221 yards rushing against the Tiger defense. That running attack was complemented by the eight of 12 passing of quarterback Rick Worstell, which accounted for another 92 yards.
This balanced attack proved too much for the Tiger defense. The Bulldogs controlled the ball and kept the Tiger offense off the field. McKinley had the ball for 32:46 compared to just 15:14 for the Tigers.
And when Massillon did get the ball, they did little with it. The Tigers netted only 96 yards ‑ 42 rushing and 54 passing ‑‑ and lost the ball twice on interceptions and once on a fumble.
Whether the Tiger’s simply had a bad day, or were just plain outmanned, will be determined Friday.
“You have to hand it all to our kids.” a happy Terry Forbes said about his team’s victory in his first game against Massillon as the McKinley coach.
“They wanted the game so much. We were able to concentrate and do the things we wanted to do. One thing stood out: our character and togetherness, and our ability to come from behind.”
Currence, in the quiet atmosphere of the Tiger lockerroom, also touched on togetherness ‑ or the lack of it ‑ his team displayed.
“We didn’t play well today. We didn’t hit good and we didn’t have any togetherness or unity. We knew we would have to come up with the big play, but they got them. You can’t make mistakes and beat them.
“I’ve already cried, and now I’m ready to go on. We have a great football program here, and if things work, we’ll get another shot at them Friday. I’d like to go back after them.”
While much ado was made of the speed of the McKinley backs, Currence indicated his team lost the game in the trenches, where the Bulldog lines were bigger and more physical than the Tigers.
“We’ve played quick teams before and won,” Currence said. “They have great quickness and we knew their speed was going to hurt us. We knew they’d score because they have a great offensive team. But they controlled the ball on us.
“We can take their fast backs, but (wide receiver Todd) Fisher is the guy we didn’t do the job on. They got their passing attack going, and when that happens you’ve got to give up ground to the running attack. They have better balance than they’ve had in the past.”
Despite the Pups’ offensive performance, Currence said the turning point of the game was an unusual conversion pass by the Bulldogs, and a safety against the Tigers.
The Bulldogs took a 14‑7 lead in the third quarter when Paul Giavasis rolled right after a fake kick attempt and passed into the end zone. The ball was batted away by Tiger defensive back Dwayne Boss in the back of the end zone, but fell into the unsuspecting hands of Fisher, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The safety then gave the Bulldogs a 16‑7 lead and meant the Tigers would have to score twice to win the game.
“Psychologically, the safety hurt us,” Currence explained, “because we were down by two scores. Take those two plays away and we’re back in the ball game.”
The Tigers started off in trouble on the opening kickoff, when it was fumbled ‑ but recovered ‑ by Rick Boerner at his own 14 yard line.
The Tigers punted, and the Bulldogs took over in good position at the Massillon 47. Their drive stalled at the 28, however, and the Tigers took over.
With the help of a pass interference call and an 11 yard run by halfback Robert Oliver, the Tigers eventually moved to the McKinley 47. On second‑and‑eight, McKinley’s Mike Freeman intercepted a tipped pass and the Pups took over at their own 46.
A clipping penalty on the first play pushed them back to the 29, but on third‑and‑21 Worstell hit Fisher with a 22‑yard pass and a first‑down at the Tiger 43.
Six plays later Sidney Lewis swept 11 yards around left end for the score. The kick failed, and McKinley led 6‑0 with 1:32 left in the quarter.
The Tigers couldn’t move the ball, but a tremendous 65‑yard punt by Dave Eberhart ‑ which spiraled over the Bulldog returners’ heads ‑ settled on the McKinley one yard line and the Tigers had the Pups in the whole
From the nine, Ed Grimsley shanked a 22‑yard punt and Massillon had the ball at the Bulldog 31. Seven plays later, Eberhart sneaked over from the one, and booted the extra point to put the Tigers out front 7‑6 with 6:05 to go in the half.
The Bulldogs received the kickoff to open the second half, and promptly marched 80 yards in 15 plays with Lewis taking it in from four yards out. The drive was highlighted by three Worstell completions ‑ two to Fisher ‑ all for first downs.
The Bulldogs then faked the kick and Giavasis’ batted pass was caught by Fisher for a 14‑7 Bulldog lead with 5:06 to go in the quarter.
Massillon immediately turned the ball back over to the Bulldogs when Eberhart dropped back to pass, was hit and literally had the ball taken out of his hands by McKinley’s Scott Dixon.
Dixon had clear sailing the final 30 yards to the end zone, but he tumbled the ball. Bob Harsh alertly recovered for McKinley.
The bulldogs then drove to the Massillon six, but on third‑and‑goal Mike Spicer intercepted Worstell’s pass in the back of the end zone. He mistakenly tried to run the ball out, however, and was tackled at the three.
On the first play, halfback Mike Jones was nailed in the end zone for a safety, and the momentum suddenly shifted back to the Bulldogs. The safety gave the Pups, a 16‑7 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
That third quarter was the Tigers’ undoing, as McKinley scored 10 points while the Tigers had the ball for only two offensive plays ‑ a fumble and a safety.
McKinley mounted another drive following the kickoff after the safety, but Spicer again intercepted Worstell, this time at his own eight.
The Tigers then drove to the McKinley 14, but that drive was killed when Harsh intercepted Eberhart’s pass at the nine, ending the Tigers’ comeback hopes.
So Saturday was one day the Tigers will have to forget, And nothing would erase the bad memory of a loss to McKinley more than a victory one week later.
Thanks to the expanded playoff system, the Tigers will get that chance.
TIGER GRIDSTICK MASS OPP First downs rushing 3 12 First downs passing 2 5 First downs by penalty 2 0 Total first downs 7 17 Yards gained rushing 66 225 Yards lost rushing 24 4 Net yards gained rushing 42 221 Net yards gained passing 54 92 Total yards gained 96 313 Passes attempted 17 12 Passes completed 5 8 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 3 3 Times kicked off 3 3 Kickoff average 59.0 47.0 Kickoff return yardage 38 18 Punts 4 3 Punting average 43.0 23.7 Punt return yardage 3 1 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 1 1 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 3 7 Yards penalized 15 73 Touchdowns rushing 1 2 Touchdowns passing 0 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 38 61 Total time of possession 15:14 32:46 Attendance 21,754
McKinley 6 0 10 0 ‑ 16 MASSILLON 0 7 0 0 ‑ 7
McK ‑ Sidney Lewis 11‑yard run (kick failed) MASS ‑ Dave Eberhart 1‑yard run (Eberhart kick) McK ‑ Lewis 4‑yard run (Todd Fisher pass from Paul Giavasis) McK – safety
McKinley’s backs end Stark Debate Bulldogs end Massillon’s unbeaten streak By Milan Zban Beacon Journal staff writer
Nobody bothered to ask Amy Carter about Canton McKinley’s proliferation of running backs.
But Stark County’s version of the great debate is over. McKinley settled the issue on the football field on a chilly but sun‑splashed Saturday at Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium.
Amy would have agreed with 21,754 that it was the running of four Bulldog backs who applied so much pressure on Massillon’s defense that it cracked, tottered and finally fell, 16‑7. And with it went Massillon’s unbeaten, but once tied, streak through nine games.
Terry Forbes, McKinley’s first year coach, also ended Massillon’s four‑year domination of the 85‑yeard‑old classic on his first try.
He sent Dwayne Randle, Sid Lewis, Mike Simms and Mike Lynch pounding off the tackles and sweeping the ends for 221 yards on the ground.
And when they were temporarily stalled, the call went to quarterback Rick Worstell, who will be around for another classic next year. Worstell threw a dozen times, completing eight for 92 additional yards.
THE VICTORY pushed McKinley atop the Division I, Region 3 state computer ratings, giving it a shot at the state playoff quarterfinals, next week.
Massillon, the pre‑game leader over McKinley, 147.75‑to‑133.37 in computer points, may still win a berth in the playoffs as third‑place Lakewood St. Edward lost a 21‑6 decision to Cleveland St. Joseph Saturday night.
Massillon probably will wind up second and behind McKinley. If that happens, the teams will be rematched Friday night at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium.
While the McKinley offense was doing it’s job, rolling up 313 yards, the Bulldogs’ defense also was quite effective. It almost completely shut down dangerous Dave Eberhart, Massillon’s gifted quarterback who has passed for 1000 yards. McKinley breaks Massillon streak Eberhart was only five‑for‑17 for 54 yards with two interceptions.
“IT WASN’T so much McKinley’s secondary that took away our passing game, but Mckinley’s rush,” Eberhart said. “They came at me in that slanting defense which we couldn’t pick up and I didn’t get much of a chance to set up and throw.
“Maybe we’ll play them again next week,” he said hopefully, “but I’d rather had beaten them this week.
“Their defense did a great job. They only gave us the ball inside the 50 one time and we took that in for a score.”
Eberhart got Massillon’s only points, sneaking 1 yard for a touchdown, then booting the extra point for a 7‑6 Massillon lead in the second quarter.
It was Eberhart’s booming 65‑yard punt to the McKinley 1‑yard line which set up the score. In the exchange of punts, McKinley’s Ed Grimsley shanked the hall and it traveled only 23 yards to the McKinley 32. Seven plays later with 6:05 left in the half, the Tigers had taken the lead.
McKinley’s Lewis, who hadn’t scored a touchdown all season, got his first of two Saturday when he raced 11 yards to culminate a 72‑yard drive ignited by Mike Freeman’s interception of an Eberhart pass at his 29.
Lewis was almost caught at the 3‑yard line but stiffarmed Massillon defender Dwayne Boss and darted into the end zone.
With 1:32 left in the opening quarter, and following a Mckinley offside penalty, Nick Faulkner’s conversion kick was wide left.
Faulkner’s miss left the door ajar for Massillon to lead at the hall.
McKinley wasted little time in the second half. It dominated the third quarter, allowing the Tigers only two possessions and each of those lasted only one play.
The Bulldogs marched 80 yards to regain the lead on a 4‑yard sprint by Lewis and an amazing two‑point conversion catch by Todd Fisher on a batted pass from Paul Giavasis at the 5:06 mark.
ON MASSILLON’S first possession of the second half, Eberhart’s arm was hit as he attempted to pass and end Scott Dixon scooped up the loose ball at the Massillon 37. After running to the 23, he fumbled, but teammate Bob Harsh was there to fall on the ball.
However, the Bulldogs’ opportunity was thwarted by an end zone interception by Massillon’s Mike Spicer who unwisely attempted to run out of the end zone and was nailed at the 3‑yard line.
On the ensuing play, Massillon running back Mike Jones was smothered in the end zone by the left side of McKinley’s line for a safety which boosted McKinley into a 16‑7 lead with only 26 seconds left in the quarter.
McKinley threatened again early in the fourth quarter, reaching the Massillon 19, but, with 8:40 remaining, Spicer again intercepted Worstell at the 7.
Massillon, with the help of a pass interference call on McKinley’s Rob Dine, reached the Bulldog 14 with 2:24 remaining but Harsh picked off an Eberhart pass to turn back the Tigers once more.
“THE GUY who killed us was Fisher,” said Massillon coach Mike Currence. “I thought we did all right against McKinley’s ground game, but Fisher came up with the big catch time and again.”
Fisher, who had four catches for 52 yards, grabbed a 20-yarder on third and two, caught one for eight yards on third and six and had another eight‑yard pickup on second and six.
Randle was the game’s leading rusher with 110 yards in 18 tries. Sims had 56 in 11 carries, Lewis 37 in seven attempts and Lynch 30 yards in 10 tries.
“You like it to come down to the last game and have it mean something.”
With that statement, Massillon Coach Mike Currence officially kicked off the Tigers’ “second season,” and what a one‑week season it’s going to be.
Quarterback Dave Eberhart passed for 218 yards and two touchdowns and the defense allowed just two field goals ‑ despite five Tiger turnovers ‑ as Massillon turned back a determined Parma Padua Franciscan team 14‑6 Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The win raised the Tigers’ record to 8‑0‑1, and stretched their regular‑season unbeaten streak to 31 games. Canton McKinley Senior, who makes up the Tigers “second season” opponent, plays Toledo Scott in Canton tonight and takes a 7‑1 mark into that game.
Should the Bulldogs win ‑ and they are heavy favorites ‑ it looks like they will be unable to hold their lead in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings. The Bulldogs should fall to second place while the Tigers regain the lead.
It doesn’t really matter, since that will all be decided next Saturday starting at 2 p.m. in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium when the two arch rivals square off for the 85th time.
And just like the old days when the Associated Press state crown was sometimes on the line, the winner of this game will earn a berth in the Division I computer playoffs while the loser will likely be done for the year (even though the top two teams in each region qualify for the playoffs this season).
“I think we either win or we’re out of it,” Currence said of speculation that the teams could finish one‑two no matter who wins.
“It’s good coming down to the last ball game, and all the marbles are riding on it,” he added.
Most of the marbles Friday night were riding on the Tigers’ passing attack, as the Bruins stopped the Tigers cold inside.
“Padua’s defense in the middle is as good as any we’ve seen all year. Rick Miller, Tony Czack and John Pavia gave us trouble all night,” Currence said of the Bruins’ two linebackers and middle guard.
“And you go to the outside so often and everybody’s out there shaking hands with you. We finally had to change our attack and come out throwing to get them off our backs.
“And you have to give our defense credit. They could have scored (a touchdown or two) on us, but the defense didn’t let them,” he added.
“We shut off their trap and sweep,” Padua coach Tom Kohuth said. “It would have been interesting if it would have poured down rain like it was supposed to. We just weren’t as disciplined in the secondary as we’re capable of.”
Kohuth said quarterback Paul Lucchese, who started despite a strained knee, was only “about 80 percent,” and had to wear a knee brace. which cut down on his mobility.
“It cuts down on our offense a little bit because he can’t run the option,” Kohuth said.
Kohuth said the Bruins also went more conservative in their attack to cut down on turnovers that have plagued them in recent games.
“We had been throwing quite a bit, but we decided to keep it on the ground tonight. But when you get behind, you have to throw some.”
And it was an errant throw by Lucchese with just over five minutes left in the game ‑ and Massillon leading 14‑6 ‑ that did in the Bruins.
The Bruins had taken a Tiger punt at their own 31, and had a second‑and‑19 at their 41 when Lucchese went long down the left sideline. His receiver fell down, however, and Paul Turner picked off the pass at the 37 and returned it 32 yards to the Bruin 31.
An insurance touchdown pass from Eberhart to Mike Reese was called back because of a penalty, and the Tigers then merely ran out the clock.
That TD pass, which covered 28 yards, would have given Eberhart the single‑game record for most yards passing. He finished with 218, which was just short of Brent Offenbecher’s 1977 record of 232 yards against Gahanna Lincoln.
Eberhart did complete 15 of 26 passes, which is the second‑most completions in one game (Offenbecher had 17 once and 15 three times). His two TD passes that did count ‑ one went to Jeff Elliott and the other to Mike Jones ‑ gave him 12 on the year, one more than Offenbecher tallied as a senior. It also gives him a shot at the modern day record of 14 in one season (1958) by Joe Sparma.
Eberhart reached another milestone by going over the 1,000‑yard mark for the season. He has now passed for 1,067 yards.
He did throw three interceptions against the Bruins, however (he had only two going into the game), and two of those led to field goals by Padua’s Shaun Rafferty.
After a scoreless first quarter, Eberhart was intercepted by Padua’s Scott Chura at the Bruin 35. The Tiger defense appeared to have the Bruins stopped, but on third‑and‑nine from the 36 Lucchese hit Paul Houdek with a pass at the Tiger 45 and he broke through a pair of defenders and rambled to the 16, where Turner made the touchdown‑saving tackle.
Dennis Dunn and Miller each gained four yards, but Miller was stacked up for no gain on third‑and‑two from the seven. Rafferty was then summoned onto the field and he connected from 24 yards out to put the Bruins on top 3‑0 with 9:02 left in the half.
The Tigers took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the Bruin 18, but Eberhart fumbled the ball and Padua’s Ray DePaul recovered at the 23.
The Bruins had to punt, but Matt Burton’s boot took a Padua bounce and he ended up with a 60‑yard kick and the Tigers were in the hole at their own 17.
Eberhart hit Mike Feller with a 12‑yard pass, and then on third‑and‑seven the Tigers got a boost when the Bruins were called for pass interference. That gave the Tigers a first down at their own 46.
Eberhart hit Elliott with a seven‑yard slant‑in, was almost intercepted by Chura again on second down, then hit Feller with a perfect strike for 25 yards and a first down at the Bruin 22.
On the next play, Everhart went deep for Elliott and made a perfect pass while Elliott made a great over-the‑shoulder catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Eberhart booted the extra point and the Tigers’ finally had a 7‑3 lead with just 57 seconds left in the half.
The Tigers had one more play, following a Bruin punt, but Eberhart’s desperation pass was intercepted by Chura. Everhart made up for it, though, with a hard, high tackle as Chura tried to return the interception.
The Tigers received the kickoff to start the second half. After an 18‑yard pass from Eberhart to Feller for a first down, Miller picked off an Everhart offering at his own 45 and returned it 10 yards.
The Bruins surprised the Tigers with a halfback pass on first down that netted 29 yards to the Tiger 16. The drive bogged down, however, as William Askew batted down a pass at the line on second down and Turner covered Lucchese’s intended receiver on third down so well that the Bruin QB had to throw the ball away out of bound,
Rafferty then came on again and booted a 29‑yard field goal with 9:10 to go in the third quarter, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 7‑6.
The Tigers started at their own 27 following the kickoff, and got another break on third‑and‑nine when the Bruins were again called for pass interference. The Tigers then got some semblance of a running game going, and with the help of a 19‑yard pass from Everhart to Jones, moved to a first down at the Bruin seven.
On third‑and‑goal from the 15, Everhart threw into the end zone for Jones, who made a tremendous diving catch for the touchdown, Eberhart converted the kick, for a 14‑6 Tiger lead with 2:47 to go in the game.
There was no more scoring, though the Tigers had a few close calls. One was when a Bruin punt bounced off a Tiger player and was alertly recovered by Elliott. The other was when the Bruins started driving but were thwarted by Turner’s interception.
Individually, the Tigers’ Don Fulton led the team with 45 yards rushing, and now has 305 on the season. Jones picked up 44 and now has 522.
Elliott and Feller each caught five passes and Jones hauled in four.
Tiger fans are reminded that the Booster Club meeting will be held Monday at 8 p.m. in the Washington High School auditorium. The meeting is open to the public, and helps officially kick off “Massillon‑McKinley Week.”
First downs rushing 7 2 First downs passing 9 3 First downs by penalty 2 0 Total first downs 18 5 Yards gained rushing 120 74 Yards lost rushing 28 19 Net yards gained rushing 92 55 Net yards gained passing 218 97 Total yards gained 310 152 Passes attempted 27 14 Passes completed 15 5 Passes intercepted by 1 3 Yardage on passes intercepted 33 23 Times kicked off 3 3 Kickoff average 53.0 50.7 Kickoff return yardage 62 46 Punts 4 8 Punting average 38.8 31.3 Punt return yardage 0 14 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 4 2 Fumbles lost 2 0 Penalties 5 5 Yards penalized 45 54 Touchdowns rushing 0 0 Touchdowns passing 2 0 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 63 45 Total time of possession 25:49 22:11 Attendance 10 ,745
PADUA 0 3 3 0 6 MASSILLON 0 7 7 0 14
PADUA ‑ Shaun Rafferty 24 FG MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott ‑22 pass from Dave Eberhart (Eberhart kick) PADUA ‑ Rafferty 29 FG MASS – Mike Jones 15 pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick)
Tigers wallop injury-Plagued Dragons 56-8 Currence concerned about overconfidence
By DENNY HIGHBEN Independent Sports Writer
“We’ve got to come back to earth and get ready for a tough week with Padua,” Tiger head coach Mike Currence said Saturday night.
He was standing in the vistors’ lockerroom at Niles McKinley High School. Massillon had just slayed the Red Dragon with remarkable ease, scoring eight touchdowns and amassing almost 500 yards of total offense. But Currence wanted to be sure the non‑contest was put into perspective.
“I don’t want us to get overconfident. Niles had about eight sophomores starting. That’s an awful lot of young kids to start against us.”
The Red Dragons have been watching talented teammates fall to injuries faster than twigs in a tornado before the season started.. Almost half of the first team that did play went up against the Tigers as walking wounded. And the one player Currence was worried about before the game ‑ place kicker and linebacker John Giangardella, didn’t play.
He suffered a broken arm last week. The team’s leading tackler a guard on offense and an excellent field goal kicker, Giangardella was dressed and ready to kick Saturday, even with his arm in a cast.
“The loss of Giangardella was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Frank,” Currence said, referring to Nile’s coach Frank Thomas.
“They just don’t have the depth,” Currence added.
“I’m not saying we didn’t play well, I thought we did,” he added. “But I don’t want us to feel like we have peaked. We’d score like that on our sophomores, too.”
The Tigers had possession of the ball twice in the first quarter and didn’t score. The first time they drove downfield but a 36‑yard field goal attempt by sophomore Jim Bushe was off target. The second time they couldn’t pick up a first down and had to punt.
That was the only time the Tigers punted and after the next Niles punt, “the roof fell in,” as Thomas put it.
Massillon wide receiver Mike Reese caught Fred Cleary’s punt at the Tiger 39, got behind a wall of blockers on the left side of the field and streaked to the Niles’ 15. Cleary made the touchdown‑saving tackle, but it did little good. On the first play halfback Dave Huth took a pitch on a short‑side sweep, built up a full head of steam by the time be turned the comer and rambled in for the score. Quarterback Dave Eberhart kicked the extra point and the buzz saw was turned on for good with 18 seconds left in the quarter.
After the next Niles punt ‑ there were 10 of them – the Tigers started at their own 45. Mike Jones picked up two yards on first down, then Eberhart fired a 15‑yard pass to Reese and an 18‑yarder to Mike Feller. That put the ball at the 19 and Don Fulton charged through the middle of the line on the next play. He was challenged at the two but flattened the defender and dove in for ‑the score. Eberhart added the PAT and it was 14‑0 with 9:29 to go in the half.
After the next Niles punt, the Tigers started on their own 29 and used one play to score. Mike Jones threw a halfback pass to Jeff Elliott. The pass cleared the defensive backs’ raised arms, settled into Elloitt’s hands about the Niles’ 40 and he ran all the way in. Eberhart kicked again and made it 21‑0 with 6:42 left in the quarter.
The next Tiger drive penetrated deep into Dragon territory but was pushed back by a clipping penalty and after Niles held, Eberhart missed a 35‑yard field goal attempt. Niles took over at the 20, but two plays later defensive back Mike Spicer intercepted a Floyd, Davis pass. He stole the ball around the 35 and ran it to the 15, but a clipping penalty put Massillon back on the 30.
Eberhart immediately passed to Jones to put the ball on the six, Huth gained a yard, then Eberhart hit Jones again for the score with 18 seconds to play. Eberhart added the PAT for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Junior Rick Spielman started at quarterback in the second half, and guided the Tigers downfield until one of his passes was intercepted near the goal line by Mike Hudzik. After a sack by defensive end Paul Spinden, a short run and an incomplete pass, Niles had to punt again.
The Tigers started on their 46 after the punt and Jones took off on first down for a 17‑yard gain. Huth picked up nine yards on the next play and the lights went out – literally. The power to the press box and scoreboard died. The Tigers scored again while the clock was out, after a roughing‑the‑passer penalty turned a third‑down incompletion into a first‑and‑goal at the 10. Speilman threw to Feller, who pulled the ball down with one hand; Greg Radtka kicked to conversion for a 35-4 lead.
Massillon’s second string defense came in on the next series and Niles inserted a different quarterback, junior Ed Kurowski. That combination helped the Dragons, and the clock started working in time for the fans to see Niles get its initial first down of the game with 3:46 to play in the third. Kurowski completed five-of‑six passes to move the Dragons to the Tiger three, and fullback Mark Knepper scored from there. Knepper also scored the two‑point conversion to make it 35-8.
The hometown fans went wild and thought the Dragons would make it a little closer when Niles successfully pulled off an onside kick following the score.
But the Massillon first team defense returned to action for the next series and put an end to that notion. On third‑and‑ten defensive back Dwayne Boss cut in front, of an intended receiver, picked off a pass and rambled 54 yards for a touchdown. Eberhart went in for the conversion, made it and the score was 42‑8.
After another Niles punt, the Tigers started from their 49. On third down, Spielman passed to junior Dan Ricker for a 26‑yard gain. Junior Larry Newman bolted to the four on the next play, then scored with 9:08 left. Radtka’s kick made it 49‑8.
Niles got a first down on the next series courtesy of a penalty, then had to punt to the Massillon 27. Junior Michael Moore ran through the middle and gained 28 yards. Three more running plays put the ball at Niles’ 16, and Moore took the ball in from there, breaking a tackle at the line and lunging across the goal line after being hit near the two. Radkta kicked the PAT to end the scoring with 3:56 left.
“It was nice to get our young kids in the game for experience,” Currence, said afterwards. “Because we might need them in the future.”
As for Niles’ young kids, Dragon coach Frank ‑Thomas said, “It’s tough to take sophomores and throw them in against a team ranked so high in the polls.
“We knew they were a great team coming in and knew we’d have our hands full,” Thomas said. “We had ’em for a while, but they’ve got the ability to make the big play. After that punt return, the roof fell in.”
Thomas, who was a Tiger assistant coach before taking the Niles job last season. said the 1980 Tigers are every bit as good as previous teams.
“One thing they have this year that makes them, a little better is the kicking game. It is excellent in every aspect, including the return teams,” he said.
Thomas’ banged‑up squad is now 3-4‑1, and must play at Warren Harding next week. Massillon, now 7‑0‑1 with a 30‑game regular season unbeaten streak, will take on Parma Padua Friday. Padua, stuggling at 4‑4, is the last team to beat the Tigers. That loss came in the playoffs is last year.
First downs rushing 13 2 First downs passing 7 2 First downs by penalty 2 1 Total first downs 22 5 Yards gained rushing 283 77 Yards lost rushing 5 21 Net yards gained rushing 278 56 Net yards gained passing 193 40 Total yards gained 471 96 Passes attempted 15 17 Passes completed 9 5 Passes intercepted by 2 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 57 17 Times kicked off 9 2 Kickoff average 49.3 29.0 Kickoff return yardage 45 111 Punts 1 10 Punting average 41.0 35.2 Punt return yardage 78 8 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 2 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 7 4 Yards penalized 85 45 Touchdowns rushing 5 1 Touchdowns passing 2 0 Touchdown 1 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 54 51 Total time of possession 21:27 26:33 Attendance 8,500
NILES 0 0 8 0 – 8 MASSILLON 7 21 14 14 – 56
MASS ‑ Dave Huth 15‑yard run (Dave Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Don Fulton 19‑yard run (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott 71‑yard pass from Mike Jones (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Jams 5‑yard pass from W Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Mike Feller 10‑yard pass from Rick Spielman (Greg Radtka kick) NILES ‑ Mark Knepper 3‑yard run (Knepper run) MASS ‑ Duane Boss 55-yard interception return (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Larry Newman 4‑yard run (Radtka kick) MASS ‑ Michael Moore 16‑yard run (Radtka kick)
Interceptions help Massillon roll 37‑14 Tigers’ defense keys win over Magics!
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
Massillon Tigers did a little tinkering with their defense Friday night, and it paid off with a 37‑14 win over Barberton in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Switching to what Tiger coach Mike Currence called a “4-stack” or “over-shifted 5” defense. Massillon didn’t allow Barberton a first down through first half, then came up with the big play at the right time in the second half to thwart a Magic rally.
“Massillon made some major adjustments defensively that helped them.” Magic coach Rudy Sharkey said, “They were in a “4‑4” most of the time, and we weren’t really prepared for that.”
Whatever kind of defense it was, Sharkey said his team made it look good because of numerous offensive mistakes.
“We continue to give away the ball every time we’re on the football field Sharkey said, “Of course, you have to give credit to Massillon, they’re tough. But I’ve never seen a team that gives so many games away.” he explained.
“In the first half, we had receivers open all over the field, but they either missed the ball or the quarterback Brian Breitenstein) overthrew them
“I just get so damn frustrated with us giving the ball away and not executing.” Sharkey said.
“I think our defense played a great first halt,” Currence said. “I really felt we upset their tempo and kept them off balance.
“We intercepted them three times and that was a factor.” Currence pointed out. “It was a great morale booster for us.”
Mike Spicer had the first interception, and it set up the Tigers’ first score. Paul Turner, intercepted a pass in the second quarter which Massillon failed to capitalize on, but the Tigers allowed Barberton only 23 total first‑half yards en route to a 21-0 lead.
Barberton rallied, cutting tile lead to 24-14 and appeared ready to get back in the game when Joe Peto recovered a Mike Jones fumble at the Tiger 18 yard line with just over eight minutes to play in the game.
Two plays later, however, junior linebacker Tim Manion picked off a Breitenstein pass at the nine yard line and almost returned it all the way, getting caught from behind at the 33. Six plays later the Tigers added a touchdown to quell the Magic threat.
“Tim Manion has a nose for the ball,” Currence said.
Massillon opened the scoring by capitalizing on Spicer’s interception. They drove 27 yards in six plays with quarterback Dave Eberhart going over from the one with 8:13 showing on the first-quarter clock. Eberhart added the point after for a 7‑0 lead.
The Tigers then drove 56 yards in 12 plays with halfback Mike Jones making a nice catch on a five yard scoring pass from Eberhart. Eberhart booted the point after for a 14‑0 lead with :42 left in the first quarter.
Eberhart missed a 35‑yard field goal try in the second period, but scored on another one yard sneak with 1:25 left in the half. He added the PAT kick for a 21-0 lead.
The TD was set up by a 14-yard point return by Jeff Spicer to the Barberton 38. The Tigers took 10 plays to score with Eberhart hitting halfback Robert Oliver with 17-yard pass on third-and-15 to the Magic 21. Jones also had a fine 10-yard run to the one to set up Eberhart’s scoring run.
When the Tiger offensive attack bogged down in the third quarter. Barberton responded with a 21-yard TD run by fullback John Jones. Massillon was penalized on the ensuing conversion kick, and Barberton elected to go for two from a yard and a half out. But Mike Loretto nailed Jones short of the goal line, and Massillon led 21-6 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers finally got a drive going, and moved from their own 36 to the Magic 25, where a third-down incompletion brought up a fourth-and-seven.
Sophomore Jun Bushe come on to try a 41‑yard field goal, and his line-drive kick was good, making it 24-6 with 11:19 to play. The kick seemed to bring the Tiger bench to life as players ran out on the field to congratulate Bushe, who was making his first appearance in a varsity game.
Barberton hung tough, however, and drove 55 yards in nine plays with Marty Potter hauling in a seven-yard TD toss from Breitenstein with 8:31 to play. Breitenstein then passed to tight end John Trew for the conversion and the Magics trailed 24-14.
The ensuing kickoff sailed into the end zone, and the Tigers took over on the 20. Jones was hit hard and fumbled, with Peto recovering at the 18.
Manion and middle guard Jeff Grove nailed Jones for a two-yard loss, and then Manion picked off Breitenstein’s throw on the next play.
“We had a man wide open and he threw an interception,” Sharkey lamented. “That’s was the big giveaway there.”
Manion returned the hall to the Barberton 33 and the Tigers scored six plays later when halfback Dave Huth ran three yards to paydirt. Eberhart’s kick was good and the Tigers had a safe 31‑14 lead with 3:12 to play.
Barberton took the ensuing kickoff and got a first down on a Breitenstein pass, but then gave up the ball on four straight incompletions from the Tiger 47.
Four plays later, George Roknich dashed 37 yards for the Tigers’ final TD with only :46 left in the game.
The win brings Massillon’s record to 6‑0‑1 and extends the Tigers’ regular‑season unbeaten string to 29 games Barberton falls to 3‑3‑1.
“Massillon has a fine football team, Sharkey said. “You can’t take anything away from them. They can score on anybody. and their defensive adjustments helped them tonight. But I don’t know if it will be enough to help them go all the way or not.”
Currence isn’t worrying about that right now. The game he’s concerned about is next Saturday’s visit to Niles, which has a surprising 3-2‑1 record under former Tiger assistant coach Frank Thomas. The Red Dragons will host Warren Howland tonight.
First downs rushing 14 4 First down passing 3 3 First downs by penalty 1 1 Total first downs 18 8 Yards gained rushing 263 80 Yards lost rushing 11 13 Net yards gained rushing 252 67 Net yards gained passing 57 96 Total yards gained 309 163 Passes attempted 15 27 Passes completed 4 8 Passes intercepted by 3 0 Yardage on passes intercepted 78 0 Times kicked off 7 3 Kickoff average 46.4 52.7 Kickoff return yardage 29 81 Punts 4 6 Punting average 36.3 37.2 Punt return yardage 10 23 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 3 0 Fumbles lost 1 1 Penalties 7 6 Yards penalized 64 41 Touchdowns rushing 4 1 Touchdowns passing 1 1 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 73 54 Total time of possession 28:06 18:54 Attendance 10,706
BARBERTON 0 0 6 8 – 14 MASSILLON 14 7 0 16 – 37
MASS – Dave Eberhart 1-yard run (Eberhart kick) MASS – Mike Jones 5-yard pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS – Eberhart 1-yard run (Eberhart kick) BARB – John Jones 21-yard run (run failed) MASS – Jim Bushe 41-yard FG BARB – Marty Potter 7-yard pass from Brian Breitenstein John Trew pass from Breitenstein) MASS – Dave Huth 3-yard run (Eberhart kick) MASS – George Roknich 37-yard run (kick failed)
Tigers’ 4th‑quarter rally downs South 22‑point period nets 36‑25 victory
By ROLLIE DREUSSI Independent Sports Editor
“We don’t play them next year, do we coach?”
“Heck no, let somebody else play ‘em.” Massillon coach Mike Currence said.
And good luck to whoever does.
For the second time in three weeks the Massillon Tigers came from behind to pull out a hard‑fought victory as they downed Youngstown South 36‑25 Friday night in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Warriors’ now 4‑2, have a young team ‑ with four sophomores and only nine seniors starting ‑ but they gave the Tigers all they could handle.
They took a 19‑14 lead early in the fourth quarter, and it took a 22‑point final period by the Tigers to finally subdue them.
South’s 25 points was the most scored by an opposing team in Tiger Stadium since 1969 when Niles beat the Tigers 33‑20. It was the most points scored against the Tigers, period, since 1974 when the Tigers lost 31‑14 at Upper Arlington and 35‑10 at Warren Harding.
The Tigers and Warriors piled up a total of 661 yards ‑ 352 of those by South, all on the ground.
“Those are the finest two backs I’ve seen here in five years,” Currence said of seniors Scott Ivy and Arthur Beck. “And (Kevin) Burkley, he’s a super quarterback for a sophomore.”
Those three Warrior backs did all the running for South, with Ivy gaining 166 yards in 19 carries, Beck picking up 98 in 22 rushed and Burkley finishing with 94 in 19 tries.
But it was a clutch fourth‑quarter effort by the Tiger offense which helped Massillon raise its unbeaten record to 5‑0‑1.
Quarterback Dave Eberhart’s second touchdown of the game gave Massillon a 22‑19 lead, and a pair of TD runs by fullback Don Fulton clinched the game for the Tigers.
Fulton, who had been the starting halfback in preseason before being switched to end to shore up the defense, had an outstanding game.
“He did a great job,” Currence said of the 6‑0, 200‑pound senior. Fulton rushed for 160 yards in 16 carries
Eberhart only gained two yards, but they were big ones ‑ each being a one‑yard sneak for a touchdown. He also hit eight of 10 passes for 70 yards.
He was three‑for‑three for 44 yards in the fourth quarter, with all three passes going for first downs in the Tigers 66‑yard, 13‑play drive that put them ahead to stay.
Eberhart climaxed that drive with a one‑yard TD sneak to put the Tigers ahead 20‑19, then did a great job of scrambling as he ran in the extra points for a threepoint cushion that the Tigers never lost.
The Warriors never gave up, however, and might have pulled out the game had it not been for a crucial fourth‑quarter mistake by Burkley.
with his team trailing 22‑19, Burkley took off on one of his option runs (which had given the Tiger defense fits all night). He gained 10 yards up to the South 44 and had a first down ‑ when he lateralled the ball forward to a teammate. That resulted in a five‑yard penalty from the point of the foul and also incurred a loss of down.
That put South back at its own 39 with a second‑and‑six, and defensive tackle Ed Newman then sacked
Burkley for a seven‑yard loss. Burkley threw an incomplete pass, and then completed a pass for minus-three yards on a fake punt play an fourth down.
Massillon took over at the South 30, And senior Dave Huth had a touchdown run on first down called back by a clipping penalty. He still got credit for a nine‑yard gain on the play, and following an illegal procedure penalty against Massillon, be scampered another 13 to the South 13.
Fulton then carried for four yards, and followed a Todd Kasunick block for nine more yards and a TD on the following play with 3:35 left.
Massillon’s 29‑19 lead shrank 1:09 later when Beck bolted 25 yards for a touchdown on a draw play. Beck was stopped however, on his conversion run attempt and the Tigers led 29‑25.
The Tigers had a close call when South almost pulled off an onside kick, but Massillon managed to come up with the ball at the South 49.
Fulton burst through the line for 47 yards, with Ivy (who also played In the secondary) barely catching him from behind. Fulton carried it in from the two with 1:39 left to seal the victory.
Massillon had opened the scoring in the first quarter by driving 53 yards in eight plays with Eberhart going in from a yard out.
The Tigers stopped South on its ensuing possession, but Mike Spicer fumbled a punt and the Warriors recovered at the Tiger 24. Three plays later they were at the Tiger 14. Ivy broke through the line to the three where he fumbled the ball. It rolled into the end zone and receiver John Collins recovered it for the TD.
The Tigers drove 75 in eight plays in the second quarter with Robert Oliver carrying three yards for the score.
The Tigers appeared to have a 14‑7 halftime lead locked up, but Ivy sped 62 yards for a touchdown on a draw play with just 15 seconds on the clock. Mike Spicer blocked the extra point kick, however, to keep the Tigers in the lead.
South appeared to gain the momentum in the third quarter as they controlled the ball for almost 10 minutes, and then scored early in the final period to take the lead.
But the Tigers had the grit to come back and take control of the game.
“We’ve got great kids,” South coach Bob Stoops said, afterwards. “The pitch forward was the‑key play,” he acknowledged. He refused to fault Burkley, though. “What a great performance the kid had.
“I don’ t know what else to say. We have the greatest kids in the country. We could have won the game and we didn’t.”
South played a fine game, and the Warriors received a good hand from the Tiger fans as they marched off the field.
South controlled the hall to 29:40 with their awesome running attack, while the Tigers had the ball for only 18:20. But, as is always the case, statistics can’t change the numbers on the scoreboard.
One noteworthy statistic for the Tigers is Fulton’s 160 yards. That is the most yards any running back has gained since Currence installed the run‑and‑shoot offense when he came here in 1976.
It is the most yards rushing for a Tiger back since 1975 when Billy Harmon gained 224 in the sixth game of the season against Steubenville.
Nobody wants to remember when the lost time an opposing team rushed for 352 yards against a Tiger defense. And that’s one of the reasons everybody is glad Youngstown South won’t be back next year.
MASS OPP First down rushing 11 15 First downs passing 6 0 First downs by penalty 0 2 Total first downs 17 17 Yards gained rushing 256 360 Yards lost rushing 17 8 Net yards gained rushing 239 352 Net yards gained passing 70 0 Total yards gained 309 352 Passes attempted 10 6 Passes completed 8 2 Passes intercepted by 1 1 Yardage on passes intercepted 46 0 Times kicked off 6 5 Kickoff average 47.8 34.0 Kickoff return yardage 75 67 Punts 1 3 Punting average 44.0 36.3 Punt return yardage 8 67 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 4 Fumbles lost 1 0 Penalties 4 6 Yards penalized 50 40 Touchdowns rushing 5 3 Touchdowns passing 0 1 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 54 64 Total time of possession 18:20 29:40 Attendance 8,617
SOUTH 7 6 0 12 25 MASSILLON 7 7 0 22 36
MASS – Dave Eberhart 1 run (Eberhart kick) SOUTH – John Collins fumble recovery in end zone (Julius Poole kick) MASS – Robert Oliver 3 run (Eberhart kick) SOUTH – Scott Ivy 62 run (kick blocked) SOUTH – Collins 3 pass from Kevin Burkley (pass fail) MASS – Eberhart 1 run (Eberhart kick) MASS – Don Fulton 9 run (Eberhart kick) SOUTH – Arthur Beck 25 run (run fail) MASS – Fulton 2 run (Eberhart kick)
Panthers delighted with 7‑7 deadlock Harding ties Tigers on last‑second TD
By DENNY HIGHBEN Independent Sports Writer
Football fans and teams aren’t usually happy with a tie, but a lot of people left Warren Harding’s Mollenkopf Stadium Friday night downright happy.
In fact, the Warren coaching staff was deliriously happy with the 7‑7 tie the Panthers came up with against the Tigers.
So were most of the Warren fans.
With just 14 seconds showing on the clock, Panther split end Gary Hughley crossed the goal line, The football was still chilled from streaking 33 yards through the frosty air of a late September night,
What happened next gave Massillon fans reason to heave a sigh of relief, if not smile with Joy.
Panther quarterback Stan O’Day, who had just connected with Hughley for the TD after passing his team out of a hole, lined up to kick the extra point. Warren was going for the tie instead of the win.
But Massillon jumped offsides, and the ball was moved half the distance ‑ just one‑and‑a‑half yards away from victory.
It seemed like everyone in the galaxy took a deep breath at that moment
Would they try for two”
“I promised myself five years ago that if I was ever in that situation I would kick,” a sweating, smiling Bob Wolfe said after it was all over.
“But when Massillon got that penalty, I almost changed my mind.”
Wolfe, Warren’s first‑year coach, didn’t change his mind and O’Day’s kick sailed through the uprights to knot the score.
“I was surprised he didn’t go for it,” Tiger coach Mike Currence said afterwards.
Currence was relieved, like every other Massillonian, that Wolfe didn’t. But his frustration over the course of the game was obvious as he talked in the lockerroom.
We lost so many scoring opportunities I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
In the Warren lockerroom, which was as noisy as Massillon’s was quiet, Wolfe agreed.
“They did a job on us, they outplayed us offensively.
Our defense bent a lot but it didn’t break.
“Against a team with offensive stats like Massillon has, a tie is just like a win,” lie said.
Especially when you tie the score with just 14 seconds left.
As for scoring opportunities, Massillon had ’em but couldn’t use ’em.
The only time the Tigers capitalized on good field position was in the third period, when they started at Warren’s 43. That drive almost stalled too, but quarterback Dave Eberhart hit a key pass to Mike Reese and then avoided an awesome Panther rush to scramble for a first down at the 18. An incompletion and penalty later, however, Massillon faced a third‑and‑17 situation at the 25.
Eberhart made a beautiful play‑action fake, rolled to his right and tossed a bulls‑eye strike to Jeff Elliot who crossed the goal line with 2:48 left in the third quarter, Eberhart kicked the extra point and made it 7‑0.
The game started like the Tiger offense would roll, but that quickly changed.
On the third play after receiving the kickoff, Eberhart flipped a textbook screen pass to Bob James. James, a defensive tackle who was returned to his old position of fullback to add some beef to the backfield, rumbled downfield to turn the play into a 54‑yard gain before he was dragged down at Warren’s five.
Before the Tigers could run a play, they were penalized five yards for delay of game. But in two running plays, halfback Mike Jones had the ball on Warren’s one. The proud Panther defense, which had not given up a touchdown in four games, stiffened and tackled James for a yard loss on third down and held Jones for no gain on fourth down.
The Tiger defense, minus two starters, stopped Warren on the Panthers first possession ‑ and every possession afterwards with that frustrating single exception, Junior William Askew started at tackle in place of James and junior Bob Yoder started at linebacker in place of Tim Manion, who missed practice all week because of illness.
Massillon’s defense and Warren’s offense gave the Tigers the ball inside the Panther 40 five times in the first half. but Massillon couldn’t score.
“We still have too many breakdowns,” Currence said. “it wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t got past midfield most of the night, but we did. We should have won ”
The Tigers recovered four fumbles and intercepted a pass, all but one of the turnovers coming in the first half. One of the fumbles came on a muffed pitch out by fullback Wait Campbell, and the others were courtesy of the hard‑hitting Tiger D. Linebacker John Mayles and Askew were on the spot to get the ball on the first fumble, then Mayles recovered the second one after Campbell was gang‑tackled going through the middle.
The interception came in the second quarter when middle guard Jeff Grove hit O’Day as he tried to pass and Askew picked off the ball. Near the end of the half Massillon halfback Dave Huth fumbled at Warren’s 23 and the Panthers got the ball, but two plays later Campbell fumbled again and Yoder recovered. The Tigers drove downfield as time ticked away, but at the Warren five a mishandled snap resulted in a pile up that wasn’t cleared away until a scant few seconds remained.
Eberhart managed to get a snap as the last second disappeared but his scrambling pass near the goal line fell incomplete.
The Panther defense kept the pressure on Eberhart all night and he finished the night hitting on just 11of 28 of passes, for 178 yards and a TD.
“They were quick,” Currence noted. “They stayed with their basic defense but it wouldn’t have mattered what they did because they are good up front. They are quick and their reaction to the ball is good.”
The Tigers got the ball four times in the second half before Warren scored, and maintained possession for huge hunks of time and yardage ‑ but could still only score once. The Panthers had just 15 offensive plays in the second half ‑ until the dramatic march with 2:48 left that started at their own 16.
The Tigers stalled at Warren’s 10 on their first possession of the second half, scored on the next possession, and then drove out of trouble from their 13 and 15 on the next two.
O’Day proved he could throw under pressure in that final drive, hitting seven of 14 attempts, including two fourth‑down passes that were caught by junior end Darnell Robertson. The Tiger defense sacked O’Day once during the drive and came close several other times, but the Warren line kept the Tigers off his back when necessary.
After the score, George Roknich took the kickoff at his 17 and ran it out to the 37. With nine seconds left, Eberhart managed to get two passes off but both were incomplete.
“It’s ironic,” Wolfe said after the game. “I thought a lot about a situation like that all week.
“I was in that situation in previous coaching jobs, and five times I went for the win instead of the tie, I was zero‑for‑five. Now I’m one‑for‑six.
“At our Touchdown Club this week, some of the fans asked if, in this kind of situation, I would go for two or kick. When I said I would kick, about half of them booed,” Wolfe concluded with a grin.
Those fans weren’t booing Friday night.
TIGER GRIDSTICK MASS OPP First downs rushing 5 5 First downs passing 8 4 First downs by penalty 2 1 Total first downs 20 10 Yards gained rushing 119 174 Yards lost rushing 25 29 Net yards gained rushing 94 145 Net yards gained passing 204 57 Total yards gained 298 202 Passes attempted 31 17 Passes completed 12 7 Passes intercepted by 1 0 Yardage on passes intercepted 0 0 Times kicked off 2 2 Kickoff average 46.5 34.5 Kickoff return yardage 44 37 Punts 5 6 Punting average 27.6 27.8 Punt return yardage 19 17 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 5 Fumbles lost 1 4 Penalties 7 4 Yards penalized 52 40 Touchdowns rushing 0 0 Touchdowns passing 1 1 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 67 51 Total time of possession 26 14 21:46 Attendance
MASSILLON 0 0 7 0 ‑ 7 HARDING 0 0 0 7 ‑ 7
MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott 25‑yard pass from Dave Eberhart (Eberhart kick) WH – Gary Hughley 33 pass from Stan O’Day (O’Day kick)
Eberhart’s field goal beats Rams 22‑21 As Tigers spoil dramatc Garfield comeback
By ROLLIE DREUSSI “Independent Sports Editor
Bill McGee’s disappointment couldn’t hide his smile.
His Garfield Golden Rams had just stormed back from a 19‑0 halftime deficit to have the Massillon Tigers on the ropes at 21‑19 in the fourth quarter.
But, as it so often seems to happen in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Massillon pulled out the victory ‑ 22‑21 on a 25‑yard field goal by Dave Eberhart with 3:39 to go in the game.
It was a wild Friday night in Tiger Stadium, and while McGee will spend a great deal of time thinking about what might have been, he and his Rams can hold their heads high.
The Rams turned in such a fine effort ‑ they dominated most of the statistics ‑ that they received a standing ovation from the 10,739 fans as they headed for their dressing room.
“You don’t hear that too much in Massillon,” McGee said.
The fans did a lot of whooping and hollering for the home team, too. Especially after the Rams took a 21‑19 lead with 10:27 to go in the game on a 33‑yard pass from Rick Carpenter to Willie Davis.
That touchdown climaxed a dramatic Garfield comeback which saw them drive for touchdowns the first three times they got the ball in the second half,
Things were looking dim for the Tigers when they were forced to punt the ball away with 7:54 to go in the game.
The Rams had unleashed a devastating ground game in the second half and were looking to ram home another score to clinch the game.
That’s when the Tiger defense ‑ which had set up two of the team’s three first‑half touchdowns on interceptions ‑ turned out the lights.
Paul Spinden recovered a Ram fumble at the Garfield 24, and eight plays later Eberhart lofted a high, spinning field goal that barely cleared the crossbar. The Tiger defense came back and held again and that was the ball game.
“That was a hell of a ball team,” a relieved Tiger coach Mike Currence said of the Rams afterwards. “It was a big win. I think they were really better than us up front. They handled us physically.
“But Dave Eberhart is a winner. When everybody else was flat and down, he was the one kid on the field who thought we could go down the field and win it. Dave and Jeff Elliott (who had several clutch pass receptions in crucial situations).
“We didn’t deserve to win the game. It was not a team effort. We deserved to win it because of three or four guys, and that was it,” Currence said.
McGee, meanwhile, had mixed emotions.
“The reason I’m upset is we made a lot of mistakes on the field, but I made the crucial one by not going for the two points.”
McGee was speaking of the Rams extra point kick after their third touchdown. Bryan Sparks converted his third straight extra point to give Garfield a 21‑19 lead. However, had the Rams attempted to go for the two points, they would have had either a 22‑19 lead (if successful), or a 20‑19 lead (if unsuccessful).
“I didn’t want to take a timeout at that point, but we should have taken it and gone for two. We may not have made it and lost anyway, but we should have tried.
“I feet bad,” McGee said, “because our players gave 100 percent. They came down and played a great game against a great team in what I think is the greatest football town around, and I kind of feel like I let them down.”
Currence wasn’t so critical of the decision. He said that if the. Rams’ had a three‑point lead, he would have opted to go for the touchdown when the Tigers faced a fourth‑and‑two at the Garfield three yard line just before the field goal attempt.
Currence also noted that McGee pulled a fast one at the start of the second half. He said the Rams played a stack defense throughout the first half, and the Tiger offense made blocking adjustments at halftime to come out and attack that defense. McGee, however, switched defenses, the Tigers missed their blocks and the momentum shifted back to Garfield.
Besides Eberhart’s gritty performance ‑ he was 12 of 19 for 125 yards and two touchdowns and also scored the other Tiger TD ‑ Currence said the play of the defense made the difference.
“You have to give our defense a lot of credit in the first half for coming up with the big play. How do you think St. Vincent beat them (two weeks ago in Garfield’s season opener)? They beat them with the big play,” he said.
It looked at first like Garfield was going to be the big play team, as Greg Wimley took the opening kickoff and raced 95 yards to the end zone. An illegal block back at the Ram 22 yard line nullified the play, however, and Garfield started from its own 11.
They drove out to the 31, and on third‑and‑six, Carpenter’s pass over the middle was picked off by junior linebacker Tim Manion at the 37 and returned to the 16.
Five plays later Eberhart found Elliott open over the middle for a touchdown with 7:22 to go in the quarter. Elliott had come into the game following the preceding play, in which the Tigers’ leading receiver . Mike Feller ‑ was injured. He dove for a halfback pass from Mike Jones, but the pass was a little long and he was racked up into the fence behind the end zone. He walked off the field, but only returned to the game to hold, placements for Eberhart, who added the point after to make it 7‑0.
The Rams took the ensuing kickoff and drove to a first down at their own 35 yard line. Carpenter threw deep for Kevin Talley, who Was open down the right sideline, but just missed connections.
On the next play, a pass to Talley glanced off the senior receiver’s fingertips and into the waiting arms of Tiger safety Mike Spicer at the 47. He returned it to the 19, and six plays later Eberhart hit Mike Reese with a six–yard scoring pass that caromed off the fingers of Jones. Eberhart’s kick was blocked and the Tigers led 13-0 with 1:59 to go in the first quarter.
Manion’s kickoff sailed into the end zone and Garfield started from its own 20. The Rams drove to a pair of first downs and reached the Massillon 28. Tackle Ed Newman sacked Carpenter for a six‑yard loss on second down, and following an incomplete pass Joe Cook punted the ball into the end zone.
The Tigers then marched 80 yards in 17 plays, with Eberhart going the final yard on sneak over right guard. But it was a costly mistake by the Rams that led to the Tigers’ 19‑0 lead.
After taking over at the 20, Eberhart’s third‑down pass to Jones was incomplete. Eberhart punted from his own 24, but before his punt came down, a yellow officials flag hit the turf.
Garfield was guilty of an illegal substitution, and the Tigers had new life and a first down at their own 39.
The 8:02 drive almost stalled again several times, On third‑and‑six from his own 43, Eberhart completed a 14‑yard pass to Elliott, who had slipped to the turf but got up and leaped high in the air to pull down the ball at the Ram 43.
Three plays later it was third‑and‑16, and Eberhart rolled left and fired over the middle where junior halfback Robert Oliver made a leaping grab for a first down at the Ram 32.
Four plays later, it was fourth‑and‑two at the Garfield 24. Eberhart hit a quick look‑in to Reese who was cutting across from the left. The play netted seven yards and first down at the 17.
Eberhart went right back over the middle, to Oliver, for 14 yards and a first‑and‑goal at the three. Three plays later Eberhart scored with 1:55 left in the half.
Garfield drove into Tiger territory, but Jeff Spicer intercepted a pass as the half ended.
Garfield then came out and forced the Tigers to punt three straight times, and each time drove the ball to the end zone. Drives of 47, 37 and 72 yards gave the Rams a 21‑19 lead and roused the Tiger faithful from their state of shock.
Garfield’s first score came when Gills ran three yards with 7:17 to go in the third quarter.
The Rams then got the ball at their own 37, and Cosey roared through a big hole for 36 yards to the Tiger 27. On fourth‑and‑one from the 18, Carpenter faked to Gills up the middle and handed to the speedy Wimley going off left tackle. The play faked out the Tigers and Wimley sped 18 yards to paydirt as the Tiger lead shrank to 19‑14.
Garfield took over at its own 28 and picked up a couple of first downs rushing. A face mask penalty against, Massillon at midfield gave the Rams a first down at the Tiger 33. Carpenter went to the air and found Davis wide open for the go‑ahead TD with 10:27 to go in the game. Sparks kicked the extra point ‑when most of the fans were expecting a try for the two points ‑ and Garfield was leading 21‑19.
The Tigers took over at their own 27, picked up a first down, then got bogged down at their own 40. Eberhart punted and Garfield took over at its own 23 with 7:54 left.
The Rams had the momentum, but linebacker John Mayles blitzed through on first down to nail Cosey for a five‑yard loss. Gills picked up six on second down, but on third‑and‑11 Gills was nailed at the line of scrimmage and Spinden recovered his fumble for the Tigers at the 24 with 6:31 remaining in the game.
Jones gained a yard, and the crowd gasped as Oliver fumbled the ball, but quickly covered it at the 25 on second down, Eberhart found Reese but the senior couldn’t hang onto the ball.
On fourth‑and‑11 and defeat staring the Tigers straight in the eye, Eberhart coolly fired a 14‑yard pass to Elliott, who came up with the ball at the 11 despite being surrounded by Ram defenders.
Vic Pirnik batted down Eberhart’s pass on first down, and the Tiger QB lost a yard when he was forced to scramble on second down.
On third‑and‑16, he found Elliott at the three, and the senior came up with another clutch catch.
The Tigers faced fourth‑and-two. Currence decided to go for the three points, but the Tigers intentionally took a delay of game penalty to get a better angle on the field goal try since the ball rested on the right hash mark.
With Feller holding at the 15, every heart in Tiger Stadium stopped as Eberhart got a little under the kick and it floated toward the goal posts. The high blooper had just enough “legs” to clear the crossbar and give the Tigers the lead with 3:39 to play.
Garfield refused to quit, however, and drove to a first down at their own 48. Following an incomplete pass, Winley almost broke away, but a fine open‑field tackle by defensive back Mike Loretto held him to a five‑yard gain.
Newman and Bob James then teamed up to sack Carpenter for a nine yard loss, and on fourth‑and‑14 from the Ram 44 Newman flushed Carpenter from the pocket and he and Loretto stopped him after a two yard gain.
‘The Tigers ran out the clock as Eberhart picked up a first down on a roll‑out.
Eberhart proved to be a pain to the Rams all night, and McGee was duly impressed with his performance.
“We’ve got a lot of good quarterbacks around Akron, but I’ve never seen anybody throw the ball better than Eberhart. He was right on the money. And their receivers made some fantastic catches. We had people there, but their guys just made great catches. ”
McGee shook his head, but he still couldn’t shake his smile. And he couldn’t hide his pride as fan after fan filed past to tell‑him his team played a great game.
MASS OPP First downs rushing 4 9 First downs passing 6 4 First downs by penalty 1 2 Total first downs 11 15 Yards gained rushing 87 194 Yards lost rushing 24 22 Net yards gained rushing 63 172 Net yards gained passing 125 95 Total yards gained 188 267 Passes attempted 20 18 Passes completed 12 9 Passes intercepted by 3 0 Yardage on passes intercepted 52 0 Times kicked off 5 4 Kickoff average 55.2 51.0 Kickoff return yardage 75 30 Punts 4 1 Punting average 30.6 34.0 Punt return yardage 37 3 Punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 2 3 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 10 2 Yards penalized 80 26 Touchdowns rushing 1 2 Touchdowns passing 2 1 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 58 55 Total time of possession 27:22 20:38 Attendance 10,739
GARFIELD 0 0 14 7 ‑ 21 MASSILLON 13 6 0 3 ‑ 22
MASS ‑ Jeff Elliott 10 pass from Dave Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Mike Reese 6 pass from Eberhart (kick failed) MASS ‑ Eberhart 1 run (pass failed) GAR ‑ Larry Gills 3 run (Bryan Sparks kick) GAR ‑ Greg Wimley 18 run (Sparks kick) GAR ‑ Willie Davis 33 pass from Rick Carpenter (Sparks kick) MASS ‑ FG 25 Eberhart
Late boot saves Tigers from upset
MASSILLON ‑ Quarterback Dave Eberhart had a big night passing, but it was the senior’s foot that kept the Massillon Tigers from a stunning upset at Paul Brown Stadium Friday night.
The Tigers were trailing the Akron Garfield Rams 21‑19 until Eberhart kicked a 25‑yard field goal with 3:39 left in the game after the Rams had overcome a 19‑0 Massillon lead at the intermission.
Eberhart’s boot gave Massillon a thrilling 22‑21 triumph, the fourth victory in a row for the unbeaten, untied Tigers, who entered the game ranked second in the Ohio Associated Press Class AAA poll. The 1‑2 Rams were unranked.
Ram Coach Bill McGee said he made a crucial mistake by not going for two points after the last touchdown.
Massillon Coach Bill Currence praised the visitors and called it a “big win.”
Massillon scored two touchdowns in the first quarter after pass interceptions.
After a theft by Tim Manion, Eberhart passed 10 yards to Jeff Elliott for the six points, and Eberhart converted successfully. After another theft by Mike Spicer, Eberhart passed six yards to Mike Reese for a score.
An 80-yard, 17‑play drive in the second quarter was climaxed by Eberhart himself with a I‑yard scoring dash.
Garfield came back with vengeance in the second half, scoring on its first three possessions. Larry Gillis, who had 88 yards rushing in 19 carries, scored on a three‑yard run, Greg Wimley on an 18‑yard run and Willie Davis on a 33‑yard pass from Rick Carpenter.
Massillon’s winning field goal came after the Tigers’ Paul Spinden covered a Garfield fumble on the Rams’ 24.
Eberhart completed 12 of 19 passes for 125 yards.
The Tigers led in possession time 27:22 ‑ 20:38, but Garfield was ahead in first downs 15‑11.
The Rams led in rushing yardage 172‑63 because of an122‑yard second half. Massillon gained 78 yards through the air in the first half and led in yards via the pass 125‑95.
The Tigers completed 12 of 20 passes, covered their two fumbles and were penalized 10 times for 80 yards. Garfield connected on 9 of 18 passes with three intercepted, the Rams lost one of three fumbles and they drew two penalties for 26 yards.