PUPS TOO TOUGH
Tigers make it a game, but McKinley prevails
Tigers throw scare into dogs with second-half turnaround
By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor
It started as if a rout was the order of the day. It ended with the Massillon Tigers giving the McKinley Bulldogs a bit of a scare before succumbing 27‑14 in the 104th meeting between the two Ohio high school football giants in front of a full house at Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium in Canton this afternoon.
The Tigers went one‑two-three punt on each of their first three possessions, while McKinley put together scoring drives of 4, 11 and 11 plays to jump to a 21‑0 lead early in the second quarter. At that point, the Bulldogs seemed very deserving of their No. 1 rating in USA Today’s national high school rankings.
But a funny thing happened to the Pups on their way to a blowout. Massillon’s outmanned Tigers, riding the grit and savvy of quarterback Tip Danzy, the hard running of fullback Dave Hodgson and a defense that wouldn’t quit when it was down, made it a game and then some.
“The kids came back and we made a few adjustments at halftime,” said Tigers coach Jack Rose. “I told them a lesser team would have thrown in the towel when it was 27‑7 at halftime and get blown out.
“There’s no quit in these young men. They carne out in the second half and played their hearts out.”
McKinley bench boss Thom McDaniels did not want to hear any talk of his team letting down after building a three touchdown lead at the intermission.
“I don’t think we let down,” he said. “I think we got a little sloppy in the second half. I think our execution diminished, but I don’t think there was any kind of a conscious letdown. We just didn’t play as well.
“The team on the other side of the field was good. Again, you have to maintain concentration and try to execute for 48 minutes. We had our lapses primarily with penalties we had some really inopportune penalties.”
The Tigers got excellent field position when Julian Miller returned the opening kickoff to the Tiger 44, but three plays and just two yards later were forced to punt. McKinley took over at its 45 after an 18 yard return by Fred Wilcox.
On third‑and‑six from the 49, Ben McDaniels found Matt Curry on a short slant pattern, and Curry did the rest, sprinting across the grain to the Tiger 26. On the next play, DeMarlo Rozier took a pitch around left end and outran the Massillon defense to the end zone. Phil Armatas’ conversion kick made it 7‑0 McKinley at 9:22 of the first period.
Once again Miller ‑ and a facemask penalty on the Pups ‑ gave the Tigers good field position at their 45. But Massillon could pick up just five yards in three snaps and were forced to punt.
Rozier got the ball on the first four snaps of McKinley’s second possession, as the Bulldogs moved from their 29 to just beyond midfield. Then McDaniels bootlegged left and hit Wilcox for 22 yards to the Tigers 26. Rozier again got the ball on four consecutive snaps, setting up second and goal at the Massillon 8. McDaniels scrambled for five yards to the 3, before Isaiah Robinson found a small hole over right guard and scored the second TD of the game.
Armatas was again true with the PAT and McKinley, led 14‑0 at 2:59 of the first quarter.
McKinley’s third touchdown drive again followed a Massillon punt and began at its 41. A third down roughing the passer penalty gave the march life at the Tigers 40. On third and four from the 34, Rozier ripped off a nine‑yard gain over left guard for a first down at the 25.
McDaniels hooked up with Curry for 11 yards to the 16 and three plays later Rozier burst through a hole over his right guard and into the end zone from seven yards out. Armatas capped off the 11play drive with the PAT at 9:33 of the second quarter to make it 21‑0 and McKinley fans were ready to party.
It looked like they’d get their chance after Massillon again couldn’t move the football and was forced to punt from its 18. But Josh Hill turned the game around by slicing through the McKinley offensive line to nail Richard Bradley for an 11‑yard loss on a sweep play. Josh Kreider forced McKinley to punt by bringing Bradley down in the open field after he snared a McDaniels third‑down pass in the flat.
“What happened defensively is we finally adapted to their speed,” explained Rose. “Initially we were taken aback a little. They have such great speed and it is difficult to simulate that in practice. Once we got in the flow a little bit, we did better.”
Massillon took over at its 27 after McKinley punted. Hodgson got the ball on four straight plays and picked up 25 yards, including 13 on a draw play that moved the ball to the McKinley 48. On third and 10, Danzy dropped back to pass, saw a seam open up in the middle, and took off for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
Then Danzy found Andy Cocklin on the right sideline for 16 yards. A late hit flag on McKinley moved the ball to the 10. After a first down play lost four yards, Danzy again dropped back and again saw the red sea of Bulldogs jerseys part. He never hesitated, sprinting 14 yards to paydirt and Massillon was on the board at 21‑7 with 2:37 left in the half.
The rejuvenated Massillon defense stopped McKinley after a couple first downs and forced the punt. But Massillon couldn’t move the football either and was forced to punt from its 24 with under :30 left in the half.
Les Thompson broke through the Tigers blocking scheme and blocked Luke Shilling’s kick. Robinson scooped up the ball at the 15 and raced to the end zone for the back breaking touchdown. A missed PAT made it 27‑7 at halftime.
“The last thing we wanted was to fall behind by three touchdowns to this team,” Rose said. “I said that earlier in the week.
“The blocked punt really hurt, but we had a couple plays there that if we would have executed them, we wouldn’t be punting. In a big game like this, you have to execute every time and we had a few plays where we didn’t get the job done.”
Massillon stuffed McKinley on the Bulldogs first possession of the second half. The Tigers then moved from their 33 to McKinley’s 30, where they faced a pivotal fourth-and‑one. But the option blew up in their face for a seven yard loss and a scoring opportunity went by the wayside.
McKinley’s next two series’ ended in a punt and a missed field goal, the latter setting the Tigers up at their own 20. After Massillon gained a first down at the 31, Hodgson raced 18 yards on a draw play and a personal foul on McKinley moved the ball into Bulldog territory at the 42. On third and seven from the 39, Danzy rolled left, then scrambled back to the right and finally found Christian Morgan over the middle for a 21‑yard gain to the 18.
Hodgson again made the Pups pay for their over‑pursuit by grinding out 12 yards on the draw to the McKinley 5. One play later, Danzy rolled left and completed a pass to Neil Buckosh in the end zone for the touchdown. Josh Hose was true with the PAT kick and it was McKinley 27, Massillon 14 with 10:37 to play.
The Massillon defense, smelling blood now, again shut down the McKinley attack on three plays to force a punt that Kreider fair caught at the Tiger 34. On third and four from the 40, Danzy and Hodgson executed the shovel pass to perfection to pick up 15 yards to the Bulldogs 45 and the locals were rolling.
Danzy dropped back to throw on second and seven. Tyrie Clifford made a twisting grab of the wounded duck at the McKinley 8 and the Bulldogs faithful were concerned.
But the Tigers failed to execute a handoff following an audible on the next snap and McKinley’s Mike Doss came up with the fumble to quell the threat and effectively secure a perfect 10‑0 regular season for the Pups.
Again the Tigers could have rolled over. There was still nearly seven minutes to play in the contest and the Bulldogs would’ve loved nothing more than to tack on another touchdown, just for celebration purposes.
But the Massillon defense stood tall and gave the offense another shot in the waning moments. Danzy was standing in the pocket still pitching at the final gun, not willing to concede anything, even in defeat.
As the Tigers trudged off the field, there was no griping from the Massillon fans. Just thank‑yous for making a game against the nation’s top ranked high school football team.
“I’ve got to give our fans a lot of credit,” Rose concluded. “They hung in there with us today the entire time. The team appreciated that and I did, too. The fans were a great help in this.”
McKinley 27, Massillon 14
First downs rushing 9 9
First downs passing 6 5
First downs by penalty 0 3
total first downs 15 17
rushing yards 146 183
passing Yards 151 134
total offense 297 317
passing attempts 31 23
completions 15 13
touchdown passes 1 0
interceptions 1 0
punts 6 6
punting average 26.3 37.5
fumbles 5 2
fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties 5 8
yards penalized 57 86
QUARTER SCORES 1 2 3 4
Massillon 0 7 0 7 14
McKinley 14 13 0 0 27
Robinson 2 6
Danzy 15‑31 151 yards 1 TD,
McDanels 13‑23 134 yards
Lucrus 1 3