Tag: <span>Ethen Jefferson</span>

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 21, Akron St. Vincent St. Mary 12

Tigers overcome weather, first half turnovers to rally past SVSM

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON The weather outside was frightful. Almost as frightful as Massillon’s first-half turnovers. It would, however, all turn out delightful for the Tigers.
Shaking off the rain and four first-half turnovers, Massillon would ground and pound its way to a second-half rally to beat St. Vincent-St. Mary 21-12 on Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“The weather was definitely a factor,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore after his team won its sixth in a row to improve to 7-2 heading into the regular-season finale against archrival McKinley. “We had some uncharacteristic turnovers. We just fought through it and came together as a team and got it done.”
After running for just 57 yards on 18 first-half carries, Massillon would run the football for 16 consecutive plays – gaining 65 yards in the process – to open the third quarter.

The final three yards came on a Jamir Thomas keeper out of the wildcat formation, giving the Tigers a 7-6 lead with 4:18 left in the third. That would just be the start of it in the second half. Massillon ran for 170 yards on 41 second half carries, with Thomas adding a 2-yard run with 3:28 remaining to add a cushion by making
it 21-12.

“They have a great (offensive) line; we knew that going in,” said Irish coach Marcus Wattley, whose team fell to 5-4 and saw its three-game win streak snapped. “We did a good job using our speed to neutralize that in the first half. The second half, not so much. Once their big boys get on you, they’re hard to get off.”
Jefferson carries the load While Thomas was the one to cash two of the three second-half scoring drives in for Massillon, it was Ethen Jefferson who helped get it down in position to score. After carrying the ball just once for eight yards in the first half, Jefferson ran for 119 yards on 25 second-half carries.

That helped Jefferson finish with 127 yards on 26 carries. Over the last two weeks, the senior has run for 263 yards on 44 carries.

“He was a workhorse for us tonight,” Moore said of Jefferson. “He ran really hard. He got some tough yards. You have to give credit to St. Vincent-St. Mary; really good football team with a great defense. It was some tough sledding in there.”

Massillon would go in front 14-6 on the only real big play it picked up all night. Seth Blankenship shook off a two-interception first half to hit Austin Jasinski for a 58-yard touchdown with 2:05 remaining in the third. Blankenship would finish 2-of-7 for 61 yards on the night. “It was big for our team,” Moore said. “Those guys executed out here in the rain. It was a great throw and a great catch.”

St. Vincent-St. Mary would match that big throw-and-catch with one of their own to make things interesting early in the fourth quarter. Freshman Luke Lindsay hit Malik Wooldridge for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 9:28 remaining. Failed-two-point conversion After Massillon was called for pass interference on the initial two-point conversion try, the Irish were stuffed on a rushing attempt on the subsequent try. That kept the Tigers in front 14-12.

“He’s not your average freshman,” Wattley said of Lindsay, who accounted for 151 of the Irish’s 159 total yards with his arm. “We knew that. That’s why we trusted him in a game like this.”

Halfway through the game, the Tigers seemed to be fighting the same luck they had battled through the last three years against the Irish. They gave the ball up three times on their first four possessions, then fumbled away a lateral attempt after getting an interception on the final play of the first half.

Despite all of that, however, Massillon was still only a play away from getting the lead. All St. Vincent-St. Mary could muster from all of those Tiger turnovers was a pair of Jamie Martucci field goals, which gave the Irish a 6-0 halftime lead. That’s why, despite only 60 total first-half yards and the minus-3 turnover margin, there wasn’t a lot of hand-wringing in the locker room at halftime for Massillon.

“The coaches went in and got to work making adjustments,” Moore said. “We decided what we wanted to go to in the second half. The kids digested the information and applied it on the field.”

Which is why a frightful start ended with a delightful finish for the Tigers.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2016: Massillon 45, Akron Firestone 14

Massillon makes it five straight with win over Falcons

Chris Easterling
Independent sports editor

MASSILLON Nate Moore cautioned anyone who would listen that Firestone wasn’t Bowsher.

He told everyone that a ridiculously-overmatched opponent wasn’t what was coming in to Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday night.

The Falcons lived up to the Massillon coach’s advance warnings. Yet, the threat put up by Firestone wasn’t enough to derail the Tigers, who were able to pull away for a 45-14 win.

“You have to compliment their team and their coaching staff,” said Moore, whose team has won five in a row to improve to 6-2. “I thought they did a great job tonight and they had their kids prepared to play. We made some mistakes in the first half; we just have to play a little better.”

The Tigers, who saw a 17-7 halftime lead cut to 17-14 two plays into the second half, scored the game’s final 28 points to pull away.

Massillon will try to ride that momentum into next Friday’s home game against St. Vincent-St. Mary, which has won three in a row over the Tigers, all at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Friday marked the first game in a Massillon uniform for highly-touted lineman Thayer Munford, who had to sit out the first seven games after transferring from Cincinnati La Salle in the spring. Munford’s debut, though, didn’t come on offense, but on defense as he started at defensive tackle.

“I have to take a look at the film, but it seemed from the sideline that he blocked well,” Moore said of Munford, who changed numbers from No. 64 to No. 73 in the second half. “He seemed effective at defensive tackle. It looked like he played good, but we’ll have to grade the film and see.”

After Munford and the rest of the Tiger defense stopped Firestone on its initial drive, the Massillon offense – with Munford at left tackle – proceeded to take the lead for good on its first drive. Methodically marching 80 yards in 10 play, Louis Partridge gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard run on fourth-and-1 with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.

That was one of three touchdowns on the night for Partridge, who continues to get better each week for Massillon. A week after rushing for what was a career-high 137 yards in a win over Beechcroft, the sophomore topped that with 143 yards on 24 carries against Firestone.

Partridge had 123 yards on 18 first-half carries. His 17th carry – a 6-yard run – gave the Tigers a 17-0 lead with 5:12 remaining in the half.

“He’s getting better,” Moore said of Partridge. “I saw him hit a nice A-gap seam down there. He’s getting better, which is what we ask all the kids to do.”

In between Partridge’s two first-half scores, Nate Gregg added his seventh field goal of the season, a career-long-tying 32-yarder. That gave Massillon a 10-0 lead.

While Partridge continued his growth, Ethen Jefferson found his first extensive carries to his benefit. Jefferson rushed for 136 yards on 18 and scored two key second-half scores that helped provide the Tigers with the necessary cushion.

“I thought Ethen ran really well,” said Moore, whose team gained 501 total yards, 280 on the ground. “I’m really proud of him. He’s just a tough kid; lunch-pail guy who comes to practice every day and practices his tail off.”

Firestone put together three drives in the first half alone that reached Tiger territory, including a 14-play drive that pulled it within 17-7 at the half. Jordon Jones hit Justin Moore on a 3-yard scoring pass with 20 seconds left in the half.

It became 17-14 just 39 seconds into the second half. Massillon fumbled the kickoff and Firestone fell on it at the Tiger 14.

Two plays after that fumble – the second of the game for the Tigers after four consecutive turnover-less games – Joshua Mitchell scored from a yard out for Firestone. The Falcons finished with 248 total yards, 222 of those through the air.

That, though, would be answered by a Massillon scoring drive. Jefferson’s 6-yard run closed that seven-play, 64-yard drive out to make it 24-14 with 8:30 left in the third.

“It was really important,” Moore said of the quick response. “We had to do that and respond on offense and answer with a touchdown. It was good that we did that.”