Tag: <span>JD Crabtree</span>


2013: Massillon 14, Medina Highland 17

Season ends as another Massillon rally falls short

Independent sports editor

AKRON Massillon’s two regular-season losses both followed a similar script.

The Tigers found themselves in a hole in the fourth quarter. Then, they scored late to give themselves an
opportunity to pull out the win.

It happened against both Austintown Fitch and St. Vincent-St. Mary. And Friday night in a Division II regional
semifinal against Highland, it happened once again.

And once again, the Tigers weren’t quite able to finish off the comeback. But this time, it cost them their season,
as they lost a 17-14 decision to the Hornets in front of 7,670 at InfoCision Stadium in Akron.

“We just never clicked,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said after his team finished 9-3. “We just didn’t. … Highland played a good game. They were consistent all game.”

The Tigers trailed by 10 with three minutes left and were faced with a fonrth-and-7 from their own 14. But
Danny Clark hit Marcus Whitfield for an 86-yard catch and run to pull Massillon to within 17-14-with 2:55

At that point, visions of how Massillon almost erased a 16-point deficit in the final five minutes against Fitch
flashed in the minds of many. But as was the case then, it didn’t quite happen.

“Our kids are going to fight until the end,” Hall said. “Obviously, that was a big play. Our kids, even when it’s
not going well, our kids are going to fight.”

After forcing a three-and-out, Massillon got the ball back with 2:28 left at its own 37- But a second-play
interception – the second turnover of the game for the Tigers – kept them from capitalizing on that chance. A
last-ditch drive that started at the Massillon 5 reached the Tigers 31, but could go no farther.

“You’re hanging on for dear life at that point,” said Highland coach Tom Lombardo, after his team’s 12-0 record
earned it a regional-final matchup with Avon next week. “I was just saying some prayers there.”

Massillon’s defense helped stake it to a 7-3 halftime lead. The Tigers turned a first-quarter interception by
Reggie Rogers, which was brought back to the Hornet 19, into a J.L. Crabtree 2-yard run with 3:06 left in the
first quarter.

The Tigers, though, helped Highland get its first score when they fumbled at their own 21 with 39 seconds left
in the half. Luke Allen hit a 37-yard field goal with 16 seconds remaining before the break to cut the Massillon
lead to four.

Highland took its first second-half possession and turned it into a lead it would never relinquish. Starting from
their own 14, the Hornets went 86 yards in 12 plays, the last three covered by Bruce Kinsey with 5:56 left in the
third quarter, for a 10-7 lead.

Kinsey set Highland up with the score thanks to a 24-yard run – with an extra 15 tacked on after a Tigers
personal-foul penalty – that put the ball on the Massillon 31.

“With a defense like that, you need to keep pressing” said Kinsey, who rushed for 77 yards, while throwing for
110 yards. “That’s one good football team. That game could’ve gone either way. There were so many
momentum swings for both us and them, and thankfully, we were the ones who came out on top.”

Massillon had one more possession that went into Highland territory after the Hornets’ go-ahead score. But the
push to the Hornets’ 46 was short-circuited by a three-yard loss on third down.

The Tigers offense never again snapped the ball on the Highland side of the 50. They finished with 226
total yards and just nine first downs.

“It was tough sledding for everybody out there today,” Hall said.

Highland gave itself some breathing room with 6:43 left. On second-and-7, tailback Alex Harris hit a seam in
the defense and raced virtually untouched for a 43-yard touchdown for a 17-7 lead.

Harris finished with 110 yards on 19 carries.

“You’re not going to keep them from hitting that zone read or power read,” Hall said “They’re going to be able
to hit it Take your hat off to them, they’re a good football team.”



2013: Massillon 33, Nordonia 17

Massillon puts it together after half to defeat Knights

Independent sports editor

MASSILLON When Massillon and Nordonia met in a first-round playoff game last year at Paul Brown Tiger
Stadium, the Tigers wasted no time laying waste to the Knights’ hopes for an upset. They led by 14 after one
quarter, and 35 at halftime after they scored 63 points in the win.

On Friday night, the two teams met against in a first-round playoff at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, this time as
Division II members. And matching the division they reside in now, it took until half No. 2 for the Tigers to hit
the accelerator.

Still, hit the accelerator Massillon did, as it once again ended Nordonia’s season with a 33-17 win in front of
6,371 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“I think this game was a wake-up call,” said Tiger linebacker Danny Robinson, whose fourth-quarter
interception helped set up Massillon’s final score. “I think we were taking them lightly at the beginning. The
second half, we turned it on, and that’s how we have to play the rest of the playoffs.”

Next up for Massillon, which is now 9-2, is a regional semifinal Friday night against top-seeded Highland at a
site to be announced Sunday. The Hornets improved to 11-0 by beating Avon Lake in a first-round matchup.
But it was a while before the Tigers could start thinking about next week. First, they had to take care of a
Nordonia team that had plenty of experience back from last year’s team, which had suffered a 63-34 loss to
Massillon in the Division I playoffs.

Massillon had its own pair of adversaries in the first half, which ended with the Tigers leading 16-14. One was
an injury bug that left the Tigers shuffling players around on the offensive line, which lost Ronnie Humphrey to
a leg injury while playing without center Nathaniel Devers due to illness.

“We handled some adversity,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “We had Ronnie go down; Nate’s sick. So, I’m
just really proud of our guys and that depth that came in and played on that offensive line. I was proud of them.”
The second adversity was some miscues that opened the door for the Knights to twice hold leads. The first, after
the Tigers netted minus-3 yards on a first-drive punt, resulted in Nordonia taking a 7-0 lead when David Murray
hit Alex Alders in stride for a 31-yard touchdown.

The second came after the Knights jarred the ball loose after a Massillon completion for a fumble. Alders
picked it up and ran it back 25 yards to give Nordonia a 14-13 lead 4:55 left in the half.

Those two scores, though, were basically all the Tigers allowed Nordonia’s explosive offense to get. Massillon
limited the Knights to 232 total yards, the second-lowest four-quarter yardage total for the Knights this season,
while they were only 18-of-42 passing for 145 yards.

The Tigers also forced three Knights turnovers in the game, including a pair of interceptions in the second half.
Two of those turnovers ended up turning into points — a fumble that led to Andrew David’s 29-yard field goal
with 1:06 left in the half for a 16-14 lead; and Robinson’s pick that was turned into a J.D. Crabtree’s second
touchdown run for a 33-14 lead with 11:19 remaining.

“We prided ourselves on our defense the whole year,” Massillon linebacker Devon Ingram said. “We knew we
just had to come out and play Massillon ‘D’ like we usually do. We knew we’d be all right.”

It also didn’t hurt the Tigers one bit that, even with all the line shuffling, Lyron Wilson continued his torrid end
of the season. One week after gaining a combined 289 yards against St. Vincent-St. Mary and McKinley, the
senior rushed for 149 yards against Nordonia.

Crabtree added 89 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns for the Tigers.

“We continued to run the ball,” said Wilson, who gave Massillon a 13-7 second-quarter lead with a 1-yard run.
“We continued to run the ball well. A big shout-out to the ‘O’ linemen, because they helped us do it.”

And what the Tigers did was once again move past Nordonia and into the second round of the playoffs



2013: Massillon 34, Canton McKinley 7

Blocked kick changes momentum
Massillon’s Dailey returns it for huge TD vs. McKinley

Independent sports editor

CANTON McKinley was poised to get the momentum during Saturday’s 124th meeting against Massillon at Fawcett Stadium.

The Bulldogs, despite a one-touchdown deficit, were lining up for a half-ending field goal. They also were in line to get the opening kickoff of the second half as well, which could have completely altered the look of the game.

In one of the most bizarre plays in the series’ history, Massillon took the momentum back from McKinley when Alex Dailey returned a blocked field goal 45 yards for a touchdown. And the Tigers would never let it go in rolling to a 34-7 win.

“That’s something we work on, our special teams,” Massillon head coach Jason Hall said. “Anybody who comes to our practices, the first 30 minutes of the day is just special teams. From blocking to scooping and all that, it’s all built. Not quite rolling around, ball bouncing around like that, but we work it.”

The Tigers were looking at, at best, a 7-0 halftime lead before the field-goal try on a fourth-and 2 from their 20. Instead, Bailey’s return gave Massillon a 14-0 advantage, a multiscore margin it maintained the rest of the way.

“It’s a great feeling, but I’ve got to owe it all to Marcus Whitfield for making the block and Malik Dudley for keeping the play alive,” Dailey said. “He could’ve picked it up, and he probably would’ve been tackled. Instead, he laid a block for another teammate to get it, and their guys just tried to pick it up. In the end, I just ended up with it.”

The sequence all started with the block. With the Bulldogs lining up for the 37-yard field goal try, Whitfield swooped in and got the kick almost before it got airborne.

“It was just a presnap thing,” Whitfield said. “This whole game, I was just wanting to go (all out). That was just one of those things, just a big effort and heart play.”

Things began to get crazy as the ball rolled toward midfield. For a moment, it seemed as if both teams froze, thinking it was a dead ball as would be the case on a blocked point-after touchdown try.

Then, both teams began the wild chase to get the loose pigskin. Massillon’s players were trying to pick the ball up to score. McKinley’s players, instead of just falling on it to lull the half, also seemed to be trying to make a play on the ball.

Dudley and Nathaniel Devers – like Dailey and Whitfield, Tiger captains – both picked up key blocks to keep Bulldog players from getting the ball. Dailey finally got his hands on it, avoided touching his knee to the ground before gaining total balance and racing to the end zone.

“It just uplifted everybody’s spirits,” Devers said. “It was just a (heck) of a play.”

The sequence had a negative impact on the Bulldogs. They would get no points there, then went three-and-out coming out of halftime.

“From an emotional standpoint, it was bigger than the points,” McKinley head coach Todd Filtz said. “That was a devastating blow that we had to recover from.”

And one McKinley never could recover from.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2013: Massillon 37, Steubenville 21

Tigers handle adversity to escape Death Valley

Independent sports editor

STEUBENVILLE Massillon had plenty of reason to feel like things weren’t going to go its way in Friday’s visit to Steubenville’s Harding Stadium.

The Tigers battled turnovers. They battled a rugged Big Red team. They fought the flags.

Yet, when push came to shove, Massillon shoved the hardest. And that’s why the Tigers picked up their first win at Steubenville since 1977 – with a 29-year hiatus in there – with a 37-21 win over Big Red to improve to 5-0 on the season.

“It’s crazy; it’s a beautiful thing,” Massillon running back Lyron Wilson said. “We’re the first team to beat them in how long? … It was a great game for us.”

And that great game for the Tigers was in large part because of Wilson’s running. The senior rushed for 234 yards on 24 carries, and scored three times, the last with 3:54 remaining after a crazy a sequence.

“We handled adversity,” said Wilson, who also credited fellow running back J.D. Crabtree, who ran for 55 yards and a score on eight carries. “We scored down there three times, and they called all but one of the touchdowns back. We just fought and kept running; the line blocked their tail off. I just ran for everything.”

That third score came after the Tigers had two other scores or near scores called back by penalty. After the second, it sent head coach Jason Hall into near-hysterics on the sideline, as he rushed at the officials.

Hall’s frustration arose from a night where the Tigers had 14 penalties for 92 yards. Five of those came on that final scoring drive.

“I just told our kids to keep playing,” Hall said. “We had to handle some adversity. They just kept playing. I may have lost my cool a little bit.”

The Tigers found themselves in a dogfight until the fourth quarter because of those flags, which self-destructed several drives. They also turned the ball over three times. Massillon only led 16-14 at halftime, and just 23-21 entering the fourth quarter.

Steubenville also helped, with three turnovers of its own. Both teams also gave the other team good field position with bad punt snaps.

Massillon, which had first-half leads of 2-0, 9-0 and 16-7 before a late first-half score by Steubenville, took control of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. Facing fourth-and 1 from the Big Red 4, freshman Danny Clark play-faked and then spun around to the left and hit Beau Huffman for a four-yard touchdown and a 30-21 lead.

The Tigers scored on three of its four meaningful second-half possessions, prior to three kneeldowns at the end of the game. Crabtree had a 5-yard scoring run on the first drive of the second half for a 23-14 lead, a five-play, 45-yard march that was all runs by the Tiger running back.

“That’s just how we do it,” Wilson said. “That’s how we do it. That’s exactly how we do it.”

Steubenville, which scored on a 1-yard Robert Hayden run and a 10-yard Mandela Lawrence Burke to Kair McClurg pass in the first half, scored its final touchdown on a 10-yard Dimitri Collaros-to-Lucas Herrington pass to make it 23-21 with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2013: Massillon 35, Mentor Lake Catholic 6

Runaway Tigers
All phases clicking in blowout victory

Independent sports editor

MASSILLON Massillon scored on the ground. It scored through the air. And it scored on defense.

And when it was all said and done Friday night at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, the Tigers had scored a 35-6 knockout of visiting Lake Catholic to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2009.

“I think both our offense and defense came out with a great focus tonight, especially after our defense struggled for a few series last week,” said Tiger cornerback Reed Fichter, whose second-quarter interception return for a touchdown helped break the game open. “We came out and made a statement tonight. We’ve got momentum going into next week. We’ve just got to keep our heads on straight and keep getting better each week.”

That’s especially true next Friday night, when Massillon heads to Steubenville, a place that has been a house of horrors. The Tigers are 0-2 since the series was renewed in 2009. But on this Friday night, Massillon made sure to keep its eyes on task at hand against Lake Catholic.

“We came out of Warren (last week) and still feel like we haven’t put together a full four quarter game: special teams, offense and defense all working off each other,” Tiger lineman Nathaniel Devers said. “So we wanted to practice and make sure we could come out and execute. … We’re not looking past anybody. This was a tough team.”

Massillon’s offense wasn’t quite the picture of four-quarter efficiency against the Cougars, as it had been the week before at Warren Harding. Still, the Tigers were good enough, showing at times the diversity of run and pass that can make them a handful for opposing defenses.

On this night, Lake Catholic was forced to choose to deal with the two-headed rushing monster than is Lyron Wilson and J.D. Crabtree. Or, it could try to take away the deep passing game from quarterback Danny Clark.

Turns out, the Cougars had enough problems with both to make it a long night. Massillon finished with 316 total yards, with 172 coming on the ground and another 144 coming through the air.

Most of that damage was done in the first half, which ended with the Tigers in front 35-0.

Massillon went into the locker room with 228 total yards, 117 of those in the air and anotherin the air.

“They were a blitzing team and we were kind of just going with the flow of the game,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “We ran at it, and had success running at it. I thought we threw a couple of good balls.”

The Tigers scored on their second and third possessions to take the lead for good at 13-0. The first score came on a 3-yard run by Crabtree, while Clark hit Beau Huffman for a 17-yard scoring strike for the second.

Wilson also got into the scoring act, rushing for a 15-yard touchdown late in the first half. He finished with 97 yards on 14 carries, while Crabtree rushed for 78 on 13 attempts.

The defense took over the scoring from there. Fichter picked off a pass and return it 62 yards for a touchdown and a 20-0 second-quarter lead.

Two Cougar possessions later, Saive Isles – who had earlier set up a score with an interception – hauled in an overthrown pass and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. Fichter hit Malik Dudley for a two-point conversion and a 28-0 lead.

“As a whole team, we feed off each other,” Huffman said. “No matter, whether it’s defense feeding off the offense or offense feeding off the defense. Tonight, it was the offense feeding off the defense. That was just huge.”

When the Massillon defense wasn’t scoring points, it was doing its best to keep Lake Catholic from so much as getting a first downs. In fact, the Cougars didn’t cross the 50 through three quarters, with just three first downs and 80 total yards in the first 36 minutes of the game.

They finished with 126 total yards, 106 of those on the ground.

The first time Lake Catholic snapped on the Tiger side of midfield came with 10:39 remaining after Massillon botched a punt snap and the Cougars took over 1 yard from the goal line. On the next play, Justin Sanders scored to break up the shutout.

By that time, though, it was 35-6 and Massillon could start thinking about being 4-0 … and Steubenville.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2013: Massillon 35, Warren Harding 14

Quick strike gives Massillon momentum to down Harding

Independent sports editor

WARREN Massillon had seen a two-touchdown lead completely disappear in the second quarter of its first road game of the season on Friday night at Warren Harding.

But instead of allowing the momentum to continue to move away from them, the Tigers took all of one play to swing it back in their favor. Buoyed by the late first-half score, the Tigers put their foot on the accelerator coming out of the half to run away from Warren 35-14 at Mollenkopf Stadium.

The Tigers, who were tied with the Raiders 14-14 with 3:41 remaining in the half, scored just 10 seconds after Warren had tied the game on a 32-yard Danny Clark to Reggie Rogers touchdown pass. They then scored on their first two second-half possessions to pull away to improve to 3-0 on the season.

“I knew right away that I wanted to come right back after they had a good little drive there and tied it up,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “We got that good return (by Marcus Whitfield). It was definitely a chance to come out and take the home-run shot to Reggie. … It was a good play.”

Clark, making his second start of his career, finished the game 8-of-13 for 145 yards with the one score. He didn’t attempt a pass in the fourth quarter after the Tigers took the 21-point lead.

After the touchdown pass, Warren — which was playing as the “Panthers” on this night in honor of the former Warren Harding teams — only threatened one other time, reaching the Massillon 1 midway through the fourth quarter. But by that point, the game was all but decided.

Warren, now 1-2, was also hurt by a pair of second-half turnovers, including a Mike Smith interception at the Warren 43 that turned into the Tigers’ final touchdown, a 7-yard run by J.D.

Crabtree with 5:21 remaining in the third. Lyron Wilson also had a 16-yard scoring run in the quarter.

“We got that 14-0 lead in the beginning, and they came back,” said Crabtree, who scored three times on the night. “We made a few mistakes. We came in at halftime and we really made some adjustments and came out and we were ready.”

Massillon came out of the chute determined to take command of the line of scrimmage. And that’s just what the Tigers did on their first drive, marching 62 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead when Crabtree powered in from a yard out with 8:56 left in the first quarter.

The third Massillon drive ended the exact same way, with Crabtree going in from a yard out to close out a four-play, 30-yard possession. The second Andrew David point-after kick gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 2:38 remaining in the half.

“They (the coaches) were really rough on them the whole week,” Crabtree said of the Massillon line, which helped the Tigers rush for 147 yards on 29 carries. “They were in full pads. I have all the respect in the world for them. We couldn’t make plays without them.”

Keemari Murry got loose to get Warren back into it, scampering for a 34-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. Murry, a sophomore tailback, had 82 second-quarter rushing yards and 107 yards on the ground in the first half.

Murry finished the game with 193 yards on 34 carries with the one score.

“You have to take your hat off to them,” Hall said. “They ground and pound it a little bit in there.”

Warren tied the game up at 14-14 by showing just how valuable the return of Lamar Carmichael at quarterback is to the offense. Carmichael, hampered by a foot injury the first two games, eluded the Tiger pass rush and found Nate Walls for a 16-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6 with 3:41 remaining in the half.

That led to Whitfield’s big kick return to the Warren 32, which led to the touchdown pass that gave Massillon the lead for good.


Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

2013: Massillon 35, Massillon Perry 7

Massillon’s “Black Swarm” Defense leads way in win over Perry

Independent sports editor

MASSILLON Much has been made of Massillon’s offensive capabilities. The Tigers boast a massive line and a deep pool of skill players.

Yet, somewhat quietly, they’ve also put together a defense that has a chance to be pretty good as well.

And Thursday night, it was that defense that helped set the tone for Massillon as it opened the season with a 35-7 win over neighboring rival Perry in front of a large crowd inside Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“We just read our guards, followed our keys and made plays,” said Tiger junior linebacker Danny Robinson, whose 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown gave Massillon an 8-0 lead — following the two-point conversion — it would never relinquish.

The Tiger defense lived up to its “Black Swarm” monicker — even while clad in orange and white – by flying to the football on nearly every play. Massillon would limit Perry, which was making its debut in Keith Wakefield’s second tenure as head coach, to just 205 total yard while forcing a pair of turnovers.

“Three fumbles, turnovers,” Wakefield said. “Guys can’t line up right. … That (stuff) ends tomorrow.”

Even on a night when the defense held the key to Massillon getting off to the fast start, the offense became the talk of the town thanks to the debut of not one new quarterback, but two.

Andrew David earned the start after a preseason-long competition, and was 7-of-10 passing for 59 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Rogers that made it 22-7 with 2:13 remaining in the first half.

That score came just over two-and-a-half minutes after Perry’s lone touchdown, a 5-yard Braxton Berry score that cut it to 15-7. That score came after the Tigers fumbled a punt at their own 11.

However, David would suffer a severe leg cramp right before attempting the second-half kickoff. That would open the door for highly-touted freshman Danny Clark to take the reins in the second half.

“We have confidence in all our quarterbacks who run our system,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “The offense didn’t change because Danny Clark came in the game.”

And on his first play as the Tiger quarterback, on his first pass, he lofted a perfect pass down the left sideline to Rogers, who ran for the rest of the way for a 59-yard touchdown and a backbreaking 28-7 Massillon lead midway through the third quarter.

“I can’t stop thinking about it,” said Clark, who was 4-of-5 in his debut for 76 passing yards, while adding a 25-yard run. “It was crazy. I wanted to go in there and just stay calm. That was my biggest thing, just staying calm.”

Staying calm may have been the Tigers’ biggest problem, especially early on. Massillon — despite finishing with 416 total yards, including 281 rushing yards, 120 by J.D. Crabtree — was hurt by nine penalties for 70 yards.

The Tigers turned the ball over twice. They also had a couple of misplayed kicks that could’ve been troublesome.

“I think offensively, we were just sporadic,” said Hall, whose team closed out the scoring with a 74-yard Crabtree run in the fourth quarter. “We shot ourselves in the foot with penalties. Then we had penalties and a muffed punt that didn’t. We really have to be more consistent going into next week.”

Massillon will play host to GlenOak next Thursday. Perry travels to Central Catholic next Friday.