PERRY TWP.Massillon had just fallen behind Perry more than six minutes into the second quarter of Friday night’s Division II, Region 7 championship game. Not only that, but the Tigers hadn’t even touched the football in the quarter.
Turns out, Massillon needed just one play to turn all of that around.
Zach Catrone hit Jayden Ballard for a 72-yard touchdown pass, and the subsequent point-after kick put the Tigers in the lead for good.
Massillon then scored 36 second-half points to blow open a tight game at halftime, rolling to a 43-13 regional-final win over the Panthers at Perry Stadium.
“We just came out and played hard,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “It looked like we needed to get some drives going on offense and give our defense some rest. … We came out and played hard and got off the field and got some offense going.”
Catrone had a perfect night passing, Ballard delivered big plays, sophomore running back Willtrell Hartson delivered another strong game and the Tigers are moving on.
Massillon won its ninth consecutive game to improve to 9-1. More importantly, the Tigers won their fourth consecutive regional title, extending a school record run for the program.
Up next is a state semifinal next Friday night against Region 8 champion Cincinnati La Salle, which defeated Massillon in last year’s Division II state championship game. Early indications are the game will be played at Marysville High School, but the OHSAA will confirm the site this weekend.
“We’re excited to be in the dance,” Moore said. “We’re excited to be going to state. We’re certainly looking forward to it.”
Halfway through the first half, though, it looked as though it was Perry which stood poised to win its third regional title in the last six years. A big reason for that was simple, it didn’t really give Massillon a chance to possess the football.
The Panthers ran 40 first-half plays, gaining 167 yards. That compared to just nine plays for the Tigers for 103 yards, 72 of those were on the go-ahead TD pass to Ballard.
“We didn’t block them great, but we blocked them good enough to move the ball,” said Perry coach Keith Wakefield, whose team finishes 9-1 on the season. “You just can’t give up (over-the-top passes). You just can’t.”
Perry’s most impressive drive came on its third possession, after having punted from its own 43 and missing a 40-yard field goal earlier. This time, the Panthers drove 81 yards in 15 plays, including a pair of fourth-down conversions.
They capped the drive with a 5-yard Josh Lemon TD run with 5:18 left in the second quarter to go in front 6-0 after the PAT was missed. It was one of two scoring runs for Lemon, who finished his last game at Perry with 190 yards on 34 carries.
The problem for Perry was Lemon’s second TD didn’t come until there was 3:40 left in the game. At that point, it pulled Perry within 35-13.
In between those two Lemon runs, Massillon scored 35 straight points, reaching the end zone on four of five possessions. The Tigers also got an Austin Brawley punt return for a touchdown for a 28-6 lead late in the third quarter.
Catrone hooked up with Ballard for three touchdowns on the night, part of a 10-for-10, 234-yard passing night. Ballard finished with 150 yards on seven catches.
“Fantastic,” Moore said of Catrone. “Made a lot of really good decisions first off. Threw some really nice balls, and our receivers did a really nice job of catching them. The line protected. Proud of all of them.”
Hartson added 111 yards rushing and two scores for Massillon. It was his 4-yard TD that opened the third quarter to make it 14-6, then his 1-yarder to make it 35-6 midway through the fourth quarter.
LAKE TWP. The one thing Massillon didn’t want to have happen in Friday night’s Division II Region 5 semifinal was Perry to get an early lead. To fall behind early to the Panthers meant potentially dealing with their ability to constrict the game behind their run-heavy offense.
So, the Tigers made sure they didn’t fall behind. At all.
Massillon scored on its first five possessions to take control of things almost from the start in rolling to a 35-7 victory over Perry in front of a capacity crowd at Lake High’s Blue Streak Stadium.
The Tigers will now take a 12-0 record into next Friday’s regional championship game against four-time reigning state champion Hoban in a rematch of last year’s state title game at a site to be determined. The Knights, 11-1, rallied late to beat Mayfield 21-17 in the other Region 5 semifinal.
“We’ll figure that out later,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “The coaches will be in working all weekend. We’re going to celebrate this tonight. We’re going to enjoy it.”
The Tigers got the party started early by taking the opening kickoff and turning it into a 14-yard Aidan Longwell-to-Andrew Wilson-Lamp touchdown pass with 5:46 remaining in the first quarter. The two would hook up against to close out the second Massillon possession of the quarter, this time on a 36-yard strike to make it 14-0.
Longwell and Wilson-Lamp would connect eight times for 142 yards. They would hook up for a third touchdown, this time a 48-yarder with 25.6 second remaining in the half to give Massillon a 35-7 lead.
“We had some matchups on the outside,” said Longwell, who was 14-of-15 for 300 yards with five touchdowns in the first half alone, “They were giving us a different look than they were showing us on film. We took advantage of it.”
Longwell would finish the game 19-of-26 for 337 yards. While Wilson-Lamp caught three of his five touchdown tosses, he didn’t forget about the other star receiver on the team, Jayden Ballard.
Ballard had a game-high 10 catches for 186 yards. He also caught a pair of touchdowns as well on virtually the same play, albeit a little different the second time around.
Ballard’s first scoring catch was a 57-yarder just 45 seconds into the second quarter. That put Massillon in front 21-0.
His next touchdown catch, though, was a demonstration in concentration. On third-and-3 from the Tiger 18, Ballard ran a similar post pattern deep, although the ball was deflected by Perry’s Amir Betts.
That deflection, though, was enough to give Ballard a chance to bring in the pass. It would end up being an 82-yard scoring play to put Massillon ahead 28-0.
“We always do tip drills in practice,” Ballard said. “It just gets our hands better for what we do on Fridays.”
That big lead was enough to put Perry in a bind from which it never could really recover. That was especially true after back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, followed by a punt on its third possession.
The Panthers would finally put together their best drive of the night to get on the board late in the first half. With Dion Cundiff and Josh Lemon leading the way, Perry would march 80 yards on 13 plays to pull within 28-7 on Lemon’s five-yard run with 1:10 remaining in the half.
Lemon would finish with 92 yards on 18 carries. Cundiff would add 77 yards on 17 carries.
Perry would finish with 208 rushing yards in the game, a season low. The Panthers would have 261 total yards, with three of their nine possessions reaching Massillon’s side of the 50.
“Listen, they’re a well-coached football team,” Massillon defensive coordinator Craig McConnell said. “I respect what they do and what those kids have done. They play hard. Our kids were ready. We were patient with our calls and our kids read their keys and tackled. We were lucky enough to get ahead of the chains in a lot of situations.”
Just like Massillon was able to get ahead of Perry on the scoreboard early.
NINE LIVES Tigers survive after Panthers storms back in wild second half
By Chris Easterling Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON Nate Moore had the look of a football coach who had been through a half-dozen games Thursday night. For the Massillon coach, his debut was only one game.
Even if in the course of the Tigers’ 41-37 come-from-ahead-and-then-from-behind win over neighboring rival Perry at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium had the feel of two games in one.
Just more than 13 minutes into the season, Massillon was the owner of a 27-0 lead after Mike White’s 3-yard scoring run. With 5:17 remaining in the game, Perry found itself in possession of a 37-34 lead thanks to Drew Waggoner’s 21-yard field goal.
Dakota Dunwiddie, who scored the first touchdown of the game, also scored its final one. His 2-yard run with 3:34 remaining pushed the Tigers in front for good. “What a ballgame; we played a great team,” Moore said after his first win as Massillon’s coach and the program’s 850th win. “Hats off to them. A lot of teams could’ve folded there at halftime, and they came out and they put it to us. You’ve got to give them credit.”
The Tigers came out firing on all cylinders. Three first-quarter drives all ended in three first quarter touchdowns, giving them a 20-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Dunwiddie capped the first march with a 6-yard plunge 2:17 into the game. Lee Hurst II ran for a 16-yard score to end the second one with 6:01 left in the quarter. Seth Blankenship then hit Keyshawn Watson for a 52-yard scoring strike with 33 seconds left in the quarter.
Blankenship and Hurst alternated possessions at quarterback throughout the game. Hurst rushed for a team-high 109 yards on 15 carries; Blankenship threw for a game-high 188 yards on 15-of-20 passing with two scores.
“Quarterback is no different than most positions as far as who’s going to play,” said Moore, whose offense gained 407 total yards. “That’s a position where there’s a lot of competition between two players. Going into this week, that’s what we thought gave us the best chance to win.”
What gave Perry its best chance to win was a steady dose of Keishaun Sims and Tevion Cleveland. That was especially true in the third quarter, which was when the game went from a Tiger rout into a incredible Panther comeback story.
After Massillon went ahead 34-6 after turning a recovered squib kick into a Blankenship-to Austin Jasinski touchdown, Perry came to life. Sims, in particular, led the way.
The senior running back gained 136 of his game-high 229 yards in the third quarter. He scored three rushing touchdowns in those 12 minutes, including a 45-yarder with 1:42 remaining in the third to tie the game at 34-34 after Drew Waggoner’s point-after.
Of Perry’s 432 total yards, 219 came in the third quarter.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Moore said. “We played great defense and everyone’s fitting where they’re supposed to and things are happening the way we want them to happen. Then all of the sudden, we get a little success, we lose our mind; one guy makes a mistake and everybody starts to overcompensate.”
Sims also had a fourth touchdown in the quarter when he intercepted a pass and returned it 34 yards for a score.
Meanwhile, Cleveland – who scored Perry’s first touchdown on a 39-yard reception from Max Baker in the second quarter – provided just the right counter to Sims. Of his 124 rushing yards, 73 came in the third quarter.
However, after Sims’ 31-yard burst on Perry’s opening drive of the fourth quarter, the Panthers didn’t have rushing plays more than 10 yards. The only other run for 10 yards or longer was on their next-to-last play, when Sims gained 10 to set up fourth-and-7 from the Perry 35 with less than 2:30 remaining.
The Tigers got a sack on the next play to essentially seal the win.
“We have to finish,” Perry coach Keith Wakefield said. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what you have to do and we couldn’t do it.”
PERRY TWP. The lights went out on Perry Stadium late in the first half Thursday night.
That’s when the light appeared to go on for Massillon.
Trailing by 17 points at halftime, the Tigers came roaring back in the second half against a never-quit Perry team, ultimately posting a 37-30 season-opening win in front of a sellout crowd.
“Finally our kids decided to fight back,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “I questioned that in the first half. … Our kids responded.”
Massillon took its first lead of the game with 54 seconds left in regulation when Danny Robinson ran it in from 16 yards out.
The previous possession, J.D. Crabtree put the Tigers in position by scoring from 5 yards out, with Danny Clark scoring the game-tying two-point conversion.
Those two scoring drives capped a second half in which Massillon scored on five of six possessions.
In other words, five of the six times after the lights went out.
Perry had just taken a 23-6 lead, then recovered a mishandled squib kick with 18 seconds left in the half when the power went out. But during that 25-minute delay, Hall admitted seeing a difference in his team.
“I saw our kids get real emotional when the lights went out,” Hall said. “I think it finally smacked them in the face a little bit. They knew the score; they had a chance to catch the breath. From that point on, I thought we played good.”
The difference showed in a flipping of the script, as Massillon exerted control of the ground game that Perry had dominated in the first half. The Tigers did so with a steady diet of Crabtree, who rushed for 164 yards and two scored on 17 second-half carries.
Crabtree finished with 197 yards on 25 carries for the game. “We’ve ran that fast of an offense all offseason,” Crabtree said. “That was just almost like a practice to me. Perry’s a good team and they came out a lot stronger than I expected, but we came out and took it to them in the second half.”
Massillon only had 38 rushing yards in the first half, running it just eight times compared to 12 pass attempts. One of those resulted in the Tigers’ lone first-half score, a 30-yard touchdown from Clark to Tre’on Vance to make it 16-6 with 2:37 left in the half.
The problem for Massillon was that Perry was dominating the run game before the intermission. The Panthers had 305 first-half yards on the ground, with just 331 total in the initial 24 minutes.
Braxton Berry and Keishaun Sims were the biggest producers. Berry ran for 161 of his 193 yards in the first half, including a pair of touchdowns that helped Perry open up a 16-0 lead with 4:44 left.
Sims, meanwhile, answered the Tiger first-half score with 79-yard run to make it 23-6 with 24 seconds left in the half. He also answered in the third quarter with an 80-yard run to make it 30-19 after Massillon pulled within four.
Sims finished with 173 yards on nine carries.
“We didn’t finish, I know that,” Perry coach Keith Wakefield said. “We need to finish the game and we didn’t finish the game. Did we?”
Massillon, though, went to the ground 23 times in the second half, compared to 14 passes after the break. The Tigers did have a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Henderson in the third quarter that made it 23-19.
Andrew David’ career-long 49-yard field goal pulled Massillon to within 30-22 four plays into the fourth quarter. Thus setting up the dramatic final charge to the finish line for the Tigers.
Massillon’s “Black Swarm” Defense leads way in win over Perry
By CHRIS EASTERLING 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.
Tigers will face Pickerington; Perry ends year at 10‑2
By CHRIS PUGH Independent Staff Writer
A pair of Matts gave the Tigers a winning hand.
The Massillon Tiger football team rode the arm of Matt Martin and the foot of kicker Matt Shafer to a thrilling last‑second 23‑21 victory over the Perry Panthers Saturday night. The Ohio High School Athletic Association regional semifinal contest was played before an estimated crowd of 17,000 at Fawcett Stadium.
Shafer kicked a 35‑yard field goal at the game’s final gun, capping a 57‑yard drive sparked by the passing of Martin.
Martin finished the game 21 for 29 through the air for 294 yards and added a 65‑yard punt on a quick kick for good measure.
The Tigers’ heroics were necessary after Perry came back from a 20‑7 deficit in the third quarter with two touchdown runs by Chris Kortis, the second giving Perry a 21‑20 lead with 1:17 left in the game.
The drive was set by a stunning sequence of plays just a minute earlier.
The Tiger defense sacked Perry quarterback Bob Perez on a fourth down to give the team possession with a little over two minutes to play.
The Panthers took the ball back and promptly scored, giving Massillon the final shot.
Martin completed six straight passes on the game winning drive, setting up Shafer’s winning kick.
With the win, the Tigers avenged two recent losses to Perry, including a 23‑6 loss in an opening round playoff game in 1999.
Massillon advances to play Pickerington, who crushed Gahanna Lincoln, 48‑13.
Within 30 minutes of the Victory, fans flooded downtown Massillon. Lincoln Way was closed off as revelers ‑ included Rick Shepas’ charges danced in the streets.
The game gave the Tigers bragging rights over the Federal League, giving them a 2‑0 record over the conference this season.
The Tigers defeated North Canton 31‑0 last Saturday in the opening round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Warren Harding, which handed Massillon one of its two losses this season, barely escaped Byers Field in Parma with a 18‑16 win over Lakewood St. Edward, also on a last second game‑winning field goal.
Massillon 23 Perry 21 M P First downs rushing 2 8 First downs passing 12 6 Firsst downs by penalty 0 1 TOTAL first downs 14 15 Net yards rushing 28 141 Net yards passing 294 117 TOTAL yards 322 258 Passes attempted 29 15 Passes completed 21 7 Passes intercepted 1 1 Punts 5 7 Punting average 42.2 27.9 Fumbles/Lost 5/3 1/1 Penalties 5 2 Yards penalized 52 6
Massillon 00 13 07 03 23 Perry 00 07 00 14 21
M ‑ Johnson 3 run (Shafer kick) 9:27 M ‑ Jordan 68 pass from Martin (kick failed) 5:43 P ‑ Cerreta 31 pass from Perez (Perez kick) 1:41 M ‑ Jordan 25 pass from Martin (Shaffer kick) 11:44 P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 6:42 P ‑ Kortis 1 run (Perez kick) 1:17 M ‑ Shafer 35 FG 0:00
Massillon rushing: Johnson 13‑24, Woods 4‑12. Perry rushing: Kortis 15‑68, Perez lt29, Schleiden 8‑28.
Massillon passing: Martin 21‑29‑294 TD, INT. Perry passing: Perez 7‑15‑117 TD, INT,
Massillon receiving: Jordan 7‑170 2 TDs, Ashcraft 4‑44, Relford 4‑32. Perry receiving: Cerreta 4‑62 TD, Woodard 2‑37.
Perry grounds out win over Massillon Panthers run it for 324 yards
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sport Editor
Maybe that old computer knows something after all.
The Perry Panthers, No. 1 ranked Region 2 team in the latest computer ratings, handed No. 2 ranked Massillon a convincing 31‑17 defeat in front of an estimated 18,000 fans at Fawcett in Canton, Saturday night.
“Their line did an outstanding job,” said Massillon head coach Rick Shepas. “They came off the ball very well.”
The Panthers, generally considered an underdog in what was the third meeting between the two neighboring schools in the last 12 months, handed the Tigers their second consecutive defeat by running the football successfully all night long. Perry rushed for 155 yards in the first half in building a 10‑3 lead, then generated another 169 yards on the ground in the second half to salt the game away.
Massillon, meanwhile, ran for just 90 yards on the night and completed less than 50 percent of its passes for the second straight week in totaling 222 yards through the air.
The Tigers were within a touchdown and extra point of Perry with over five mintues to play, after Justin Zwick drilled Marquis Williams between the numbers with a 13‑yard touchdown pass in the emd zone to make it a 24‑17 game.
When the Panthers had to begin the ensuing possession inside their own 15 yard line, seemed Massillon may have momentum with an opportunity to pin Perry deep and get a shot at tying the game and forcing overtime.
But Perry would not be denied. On third-and-11 from the 12, Panther senior quarterback Matt Miller hit tight end Matt Beebe in the right flat and Beebe did the rest picking his way for 19 yards and a first down at the 29‑yard line.
Seven plays later, Eric Heinzer bulled into the end zone from two yards out and Perry had closed out Massillon with a 10‑play, 89‑yard touchdown drive that consumed all but the final 47 seconds of play.
“I was very pleased with the wau our kids maintained their concentration,” said head coach Keith Wakefield.
Heinzer played with great gusto all night long, finishing the evening with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, an average of 6.7 yards per tote. He never seemed to go down on the first hit and displayed superb speed and quickness to complement his tackle‑breaking ability.
Massillon took the opening kickoff and embarked on an eight‑play 65 yard march that was culminated by David Abdul’s 32 yard field goal at 10:58 of the first quarter. Perry James’ 19 yard burst off left tackle and a 22 yard Zwick to Jeremiah Drobney hookup keyed the drive.
Perry came right back and drove the ball 75 yards in 10 plays on its first possession of the contest. Doug Hutchinson’s 12‑yard pickup on an option pitch around left end and Heinzer’s 13‑yard sweep around right end set up Kevin Woodard’s 12‑yard touchdown buck over right guard and tackle at 6:45 of the first quarter.
Joe Shimek’s point-after kick made it 7‑3 Perry.
Beebe set up Perry’s second score of the game when he blocked a Tiger punt which ended up traveling just 10 yards.
The Panthers took over at the Massillon 29, penetrating to the 13 before Shimek was called on to boot a 20‑yard field goal that made it 10‑3 Perry at 4:02 of the second quarter.
Jamal Ballard’s 32‑yard kickoff return set Massillon up with first and ten near midfield and the Tigers mover the ball inside the Perry 20 before Anthony Ranalli quelled the incursion with an interception in the end zone with 1:50 until the band show.
The Tiger defense forced Perry into a three‑and‑out on the Panthers first possession of the second half and the Massillon offense responded after taking over on its own 22 following the punt.
A Zwick to Montale Watkins pass netted 12‑yards and Zwick then found Jesse Robinson for 23 more to the Massillon 47. Six plays later, Robinson beat the Perry defense deep and Zwick dropped the ball his arms in the left corner of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Abdul’s PAT tied the game at 10‑10 with 6:42 to play in the third.
Again, Perry asserted itself at an opportune time, marching 76‑yards in seven plays to regain the lead. On a bootleg right end, Miller connected with a wide open Beebe at the 5 and the senior carried into the end zone for a 38 yard touchdown.
Shimek_was_true with the conversion kick and Perry was again on top at 17-10 with 3:21 left in the third.
Robinson returned the ensuing Perry kickoff 71 yards to the Panther 17 yard line but Massillon could not score. A Zwick to Watkins pass was caught in the end zone but Watkins was unable to stay in bounds and the pass was ruled incomplete.
A subsequent field goal attempt from 39 yards was wide right and an opportunity had passed the Tigers by.
“We had a shot at getting points,” said Shepas. “We came up empty. Any time you have an opportunity to get points and don’t, it becomes significant.”
Perry took advantage of a short field for its next score, moving 47 yards in seven plays with Heinzer covering the final 12 for the touchdown at 7:21 of the fourth. Shimek’s kick made it 24‑10 Perry.
Massillon would score again but the Panthers closed the game out in style to remain undefeated and prove the computer right.
“Massillon’s a good team,” Heinzer said. “We knew we had to run the ball against them and we did. Our offensive line did a great job.”
PERRY 31 MASSILLON 17 M P First downs rushing 4 17 First downs passing 12 4 First downs by penalty 1 1 TOTAL first downs 17 22 Net yards rushing 90 324 Net yards passing 222 120 TOTAL yards 312 444 Passes attempted 38 8 Passes completed 19 5 Passes intercepted 2 0 Punts 5 5 Punting average 26.2 35.5 Fumbles/Lost 0/0 0/0 Penalties 11 9 Yards penalized 74 89
MASSILLON 3 0 7 7 17 PERRY 7 3 7 14 31
SCORING M ‑ David Abdul 32‑yard FG P – Kevin Woodard 12-yard run (Joe Shimek kick) P – Shimek 30-yard FG M – Jesse Robinson 35-pass from Justin Zwlck (Abdul kick) P – Eric Heinzer 12-yard run (Shimek kick) M – Marquis Williams 13-yard pass from Zwick (Abdul kick) P – Heinzer 2-yard run (Shimek kick)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Massillon rushing: Perry James 14-81, Jesse Robinson 2-6. Perry rushing: Heinzer 29-195 2TD’s, Woodard 12-49 TD, Doug Hutchison 9-46, Miller 9-34.
Massillon passing: Zwick 19-38-222 2TDs, 2INTs. Perry passing: Miller 5-8-120 TD.
Massillon receiving: Robinson 7-89 TD, Watkins 5-53, Jeremiah Drobney 4-52, Williams 2-19 TD, James 1-9. Perry receiving: Beebe 3-86 TD, Heinzer 1-19, Anthony Ranalli 1-15.
Statistics coutesy Richard Cunningham Kreg Rotthoff
Panthers stun unbeaten Tigers Massillon’s 0ffense is shut down
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
The Perry Panthers, apparently unimpressed with their opponents’ 10‑0 record and No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press Division I poll invaded Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Saturday evening and handed the Massillon Tigers a convincing 23‑6 setback in a regional quarterfinal playoff game in front of 12,250 shocked spectators.
Perry’s victory no fluke. The Panthers held a 282‑228 advantage in total yards and converted 5 of 11 third downs to Massillon’s 3 of’ 14.
The Tigers, who had averaged nearly eight yards per first down play all season, were held to just over five yards per first down snap by a blitzing Perry defense that registered seven sacks of Massillon quarterback Dave Irwin.
“They did a couple of things with their blitzes where they showed some blitz on one side, came back with a blitz on the other side and they caught us after Dave had set the protection with the backs,” explained Tigers coach Rick Shepas. “That was pretty good on their part. It was a good scheme they used on us.”
The biggest sack of the game came on Massillon’s second possession of the evening with the Tigers already leading 7‑0 and looking to score another with the ball at the Perry 13.
The Tiger’s were facing facing a fourth‑and‑four situation and decided to eschew the field goal attempt and try for an early knockout. Instead, it was Massillon that got decked as Perry junior Brian Janson swooped in to take Irwin down before he could release the pass, for a six yard loss.
From that. point on it was all Panthers. They have such a good offense and very good skill kids,” said Perry coach Keith Wakefield. “We were more aggressive on defense than we were the first time we played them.
“We started off very well the first game (won by Massillon 35‑14). This time we just finished the game.” After Janson’s sack, Perry. went to work offensively.
Junior quarterback Joe Shimek scrambled for 20 yards to wipe out a third‑and‑nlne dilemma and then Perry pounded the football right at Massillon, advancing to the Tiger 40 as Spencer Wyatt and Jordan Henning each toted the pigskin twice. From there, Shimek made another big Play, connecting with Joel Bailey on a deep curl pattern for 21 yards to the Tiger 19.
Four snaps later, on second‑and‑goal from the 6, Eric Heinzer got the handoff on an inside counter and burst through a cavity in the line for a touchdown. Shimek’s kick was true and Perry led 7‑6 with 6:29 until the half.
The Tigers appeared to be ready to retaliate, moving from their 20 to the 38 on four running plays. However, on third‑and‑three, a premature center snap left the ball rolling around in the Massillon backfield. Finally, Bailey found the handle for Perry at the 20 and ran untouched into the Massillon end zone. The PAT was wide but it was all good for the Panthers who held a 13‑6 edge with 3:36 remaining in the first half.
Perry fumbled the ball away on its first possession of the second half after forcing Massillon to punt on its initial series of downs after the band show.
The Tigers returned the favor just three plays later as Panthers junior defensive back Anthony Ranalli picked off a pass at the 45 and returned it the Massillon 29.
Now Perry could smell blood and the Panthers moved in for the clincher. Wyatt gained four yards over left guard and Henning bucked for three more before Wyatt went around left end for three yards and a first down at the Tiger 19.
On second‑and‑nine from the 18, Shimek went around his right side on an option keeper, cut back to the middle of the field at the 12 and carried it down to the Tiger 2. Heinzer swept right end on first-and-goal and raced the pursuit to the end zone for six. Shimek’s PAT try was true and Perry was celebrating a 20‑6 lead at 3:58 of. the third quarter.
Massillon had one final bullet in its gun, marching from its 45‑ after Jessie Scott’s long kickoff’ return to the Perry 16. On second down, Irwin hit Rocky Dorsey inside the five on a sideline pattern but the senior wideout caught the ball out of bounds.
A holding call on the Tigers nullified a touchdown pass on the next play and Massillon never got close again. Meanwhile, Perry’s offensive line continued to do the job up front as, Heinzer, Henning, Wyatt and Doug Hutchinson took turns carrying the football for positive yardage and eating up the game clock.
The Panthers tacked on a 26‑yard Shimek field goal with 3:06 to play.
After getting the ball back on downs deep in Tiger territory in the waning moments, Shimek took a knee as the final seconds wound off the clock.
The first half began as if Massillon was going to run away and hide from the Panthers. After forcing Perry to punt after just three snaps, the Tigers mounted their initial drive of the game from their 37‑yardline line and made it look easy.
Scott picked up 14 yards on two plays, then Irwin found Dorsey along the right Sideline for 10 more to the Perry 36. An incompletion and two sack by the fired-up Panthers defense set up fourth 4th and 11 for the Tigers and Shepas opted to go for it. Irwin dropped back and launched a high arching bomb toward the left corner of the end zone. Joe Price was well covered but the pass was perfect and the senior widout pulled it in for a 30‑yard gain to the Perry 6.
On second down, Perry registered its third sack of Irwin as tackle Bill Turner did the honors. But the Tigers were unfazed. On third‑and‑goal, Scott swept around his left end, leaped at the 3 and hurdled a Panther defender landing in the end zone for a touchdown. The kick was wide as Massillon led 6‑0 at 5:40 of the first quarter. Little did the Tigers know that would be their final tally of the football game.
Inside a disconsolate Massillon locker room Shepas couldn’t find it in himself to be critical of his charges. “It’s always tough considering what’s gone on over the course of the last year,” he said. “For a football program to be so low back in the winter time and then to climb that mountain and come back from some odds and reach what looks like a summit after beating McKinley. There’s a lot these kids have accomplished. They stuck together. They showed great character. We have outstanding kids. They played together from start to finish. Tonight they got bit.
“The legacy they leave our football program … we will never be able to thank them enough. What they’ve been able to do to get this pro gram going in the right direction, I’ll be eternally grateful for these kids. Without them I wouldn’t have a job.” Arid Shepas did not hesitate to tip his hat to the Panthers.
They’re a team that is very well coached,” he said. “They play such a solid game. They rarely turn the ball over. And they did turn it over once. We just couldn’t turn it into points. “Perry played hard and they deserved to win. There are no excuses on this side “‘
PERRY 23 MASSILLON 6 P M First downs rushing 11 6 First downs passing 1 7 First downs by penalty 0 1 TOTAL first downs 12 14 Net yards rushing 261 76 Net yard passing 21 152 TOTAL yards 282 228 Passes attempted 2 24 Passes completed 1 10 Passes intercepted 0 1 Punts 4 4 Punting average 27 30.5 Fumbles/Lost 1/1 3/1 Penalties 6 3 Yards penalized 40 27
PERRY 00 13 07 03 23 MASSILLON 06 00 00 00 06
M Jesse Scott 4 yard run (Kick failed) P Eric Heinzer 6‑yard run (Joe Shimek) P Joe Bailey 20‑yard fumble recovery (Kick failed) P Heinzer I ‑yard run (Shimek Kick) P Shimek 25‑yard field goal
Perry rushing: Heinzer 13‑105, Henning 16-70, Spencer Wyatt 12-43 Massillon rushing: Scott 12‑80, Perry James 7‑17
Perry passing: Shimek 1‑2‑21 Massillon passing: Dave Irwin 10‑24-152 1 INT.
Perry receiving: Bailey 1‑21 Massillon receiving: Drobney 3‑50, Jesse Robinson 2-24, Rock
Perry has ‘Rocky’ time against Tigers Dorsey’s two TD receptions are key
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
The Massillon Tigers and Perry Panthers battled it out Friday night and they did it the right way, without the involvement of lawyers, judges or athletic association commissioners.
Massillon and Perry, embroiled in a months long recruiting controversy that remains in litigation, waged a spirited and well-played football game in front of 14,185 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. When the final whistle sounded the Tigers were still undefeated, securing a 35-14 victory over their neighbors to the east.
While the game was crisp and clean on the field, there were post-game developments that underscored the lingering hard feelings between the two programs.
Tigers coach Rick Shepas was not happy that his counterpart, Perry mentor Keith – Wakefield, avoided him as the teams shook hands. “Coach Wakefield is an outstanding coach,” Shepas said afterward. “I developed a respect for him when I was a player back in Youngstown and he was (coaching) at Austintown Fitch. “I’m very disappointed he wouldn’t shake my hand after the game.”
While Wakefield declined comment after the contest, he was overheard chastising Perry athletic director Frank Gamble for signing the two-year contract to play Massillon on the gridiron. Gamble, a former assistant for Wakefield, responded angrily as the two retreated into the visitors’ locker room.
On the field, Tigers senior Rocky Dorsey snared touchdown passes of 22 and 43-yards from quarterback Dave Irwin as Massillon pulled away from a 7-7 halftime tie to win going away. It is Massillon’s seventh victory in as many starts.
Dorsey’s first scoring reception capped a six-play, 59-yard drive. The two-year starter was well covered but out-fought a Perry defender to secure the football in the end zone in what appeared to be a jump-ball situation.
“We talked about making plays for the football,” said Shepas. “Dave is going to make some great passes but he’s not going to make a perfect pass on every down. So our receivers have to go up and make a play on the football every now and then and we have guys – like Rocky Dorsey – who can do that.”
Irwin also had praise for his receiver’s spectacular catch. “Rocky made a great play on that pass,” Irwin recalled. “The ball was kind of slippery and I underthrew him. All of our receivers are aggressive. They’ll go up and get the foot ball.”
Dorsey’s first TD made it 21-7 Massillon with three minutes left in the third quarter. But Perry battled back behind the hardnosed running of junior fullback Jordan Henning, who rushed for 102 yards in 19 carries on the night.
Henning keyed a 14-play, 74-yard drive with four carries that garnered Perry first downs. Junior quarterback Matt Miller put the score on the board, after faking to Henning and going around right end from a yard out.Joe Shimek’s kick cut the Tigers’ advantage to 21-14 with 8:36 still to play.
Massillon, however, put the game away in short order. The Tigers got the football near midfield after a facemask call on Perry on the kickoff return. Three plays later, an Irwin pass hit Dorsey in stride down the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown aerial. Brett Marshall’s kick made it 28-14 and while there was over seven minutes still to play, the Panthers were unable to respond.
Shepas indicated there was no panic in the Tiger locker room, despite the 7-7 halftime deadlock. “We didn’t make many adjustments because we didn’t have that many touches of the ball in the first half,” he explained. “So we took a calm, cerebral approach in the locker room at halftime. We let the kids tell us what we should do. We went out and did that. “But give Perry credit. They really did move the football on us. They possessed it on us. They have tough kids.”
Massillon came out of the halftime break and pieced together an 11-play, 55-yard march that took just 3:57 off the clock. A 13-yard Irwin to Jeremiah Drobney completion erased a third-and-10 situation and set the Tigers up with first-and-goal at the Perry 5. From there Jesse Scott took a handoff and skirted right end for the touchdown, that put the orange-and-black ahead for good.
Irwin then connected with Dave Bumgarner for the two point conversion and it was Massillon 15, Perry 7 with eight minutes remaining in the third.
The first half was contested on even terms. Perry took the opening kickoff and moved from its 29 to its 48-yard line on six consecutive running plays but was forced to punt. Massillon opened things up from the get-go as quarterback Dave Irwin found senior wide-out Joe Price along the left sideline for 19 yards on first down.
Scott, who’s transfer from Perry to Massillon sparked the recruiting charges, against the Tiger football program, picked up nine yards over left guard and tackle on the next snap to move the ball across midfield. Irwin hooked up with Price for nine yards to the Perry 32 and the duo repeated their act as the Tigers moved to the 13.
Then Irwin found tight end Anthony Battle with a quick pass to the 5 and the senior fought his way to the 1. On first and goal from there, Scott dove over his left tackle and into the end zone. Marshall’s conversion kick made it 7-0 Massillon at 4:13 of the first quarter. The ten-play, 74-yard march only took 2:13 off the clock.
Perry went three-and-out on its next possession. Massillon managed one first down after receiving the panthers punt but its drive quickly stalled and the Tiger punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback.
On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, Henning gained 12 yards on two carries for a first down. Two plays later, Miller found Brian Janson open for 15 yards to midfield. A pass interference call and an encroachment penalty against the Tigers moved the ball to the Massillon 30. Three snaps later, Henning went over his left guard for nine yards and the Panthers had a first-and-goal at the Massillon 9.
A holding call against Perry appeared to have stalled the visitors’ drive. But on third and goal from the 22, Miller threaded the needle with a pass to Joe Bailey at the 5-yard line. Wakefield called timeout and decided to go for six. Miller dropped back, got solid protection from his line, and found senior tight end Joe Croston open in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Shimek booted the extra point to cap off the 13-play, 80-yard march and knot the score at 7-7 with 6:43 left in the first half.
MASSILLON 35 PERRY 14
M P First downs rushing 6 11 First downs passing 13 3 First downs by penalty 1 1 TOTAL first downs 20 15 Net yards rushing 94 180 Net yards passing 279 62 TOTAL yards 373 242 Passes attempted 25 13 Passes completed 18 6 Passes intercepted 2 1 Punts 2 5 Punting average 30.5 22.6 Fumbles/Lost 0/0 0/0 Penalties 6 6 Yards penalized 59 61
MASSILLON 07 00 14 14 35 PERRY 00 07 00 00 14
M – Jesse Scott 1 yard run (Brent Marshall kick) P – Joe Croston 6 yard pass from Matt Miller (Joe Shimek) M – Scott 6 yard run (Dave Bumgarner pass from Dave Irwin) M – Rocky Dorsey 22 yard pass from Irwin (Kick failed) P – Jordan Henning 1 yard run (Joe Bailey kick) M – Dorsey 43 yard pass from Irwin (Marshall kick) M – Joe Price 9 yard pass from Irwin (Marshall kick)
Massillon rushing: Scott 11-55, Perry James 10-48. Perry rushing: Henning 19-102, Doug Hutchison 8-39, Miller 11-17.
Massillon passing: Irwin 18-25-273 3 TDs, 2 INTs. Perry passing: Miller 5-8-63 1 TD, Shimek 1-5-20 1 INT.
Massillon receiving: Dorsey 3-101, Price 6-68, Anthony Battle 3-38. Perry receiving: Bailey 2-29, Brian Janson 2-12, Hutchison 1-15.
MASSILLON ‑ Sometimes, the kamikazes live to fight other wars.
Such is the case with the unknown soldiers who strap on their goggles and plummet ahead like so many cruise missiles. The guys who sacrifice their bodies more than any other unit had plenty to do with the Massillon Tigers’ 13‑3 victory over the Perry Panthers before 15,638 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday night.
“The guys on the special teams can win a game or lose a game,” noted Tiger kamikaze member Bob Foster. Friday, he helped win one.
In the first quarter, the Tigers were stopped on their first series and had to punt. Panther return man Todd Sabin lost the ball as he was hit by Rod Patt, Howard Evans dove on the ball, and the Tigers got a field goal.
In the third quarter, with the score tied 3‑3, the Panthers again stalled the Massillon offense, forcing a punt. Sabin again lost the ball and Foster flew in for the recovery. The Tigers drove 33 yards for the touchdown that shaped the rest of the game.
“I was running down field and saw the ball pop out and I dove for it,” Foster said. “I was just doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
He’ll try to do it again next Saturday in Canton, where the Tigers will take on McKinley for the 91st time.
As if the Tigers needed something to fuel their jets to get psyched for McKinley, they’ll be playing with the knowledge a win or a loss will be the difference between making the playoffs and going back to the weight room.
Beating the Panthers should vault the Tigers into the top four in Region 2 of Division 1. Three teams ahead of them ‑ Jackson, Brunswick and of course, Perry ‑ lost Friday night.
The loss left the Panthers with a 6‑3 record and kayoed their playoff chances. Perry closes the season against Louisville, whose 4 5 record will not provide enough computer points to offer the Panthers any hopes for a mathematical miracle.
However, if the Panthers beat Louisville, they will clinch at least a share of the Federal League championship ‑ more than just a consolation prize.
Neither Massillon nor Perry was thinking about next week between 8 and 10 Friday night.
Both wanted desperately to win the last game in the Panther‑Tiger series for who knows how long.
“We did what we wanted to do,” said Tiger head coach John Maronto. “We closed out the chapter with things 100 percent in Massillon’s favor.”
The Tigers lead the series 8‑0, with the last two games’ 10‑point margins representing the closest contests.
“Our kids fought real hard,” said Perry pilot Keith Wakefield. “I thought these guys fought harder than any group I’ve brought over.
“When you play four games like our last four (North Canton, GlenOak, Midpark, Massillon) … maybe that caught up with us. But hey, we can share the Federal League title.”
Aside from the big plays by the special teams, the Tigers won with defense. They held Perry’s superb wing‑T running attack to a net of 78 yards. Their defense apparently is ready to deal with McKinley.
“Our defense played outstanding football as a team and I was especially proud of the front seven’s play,” Maronto said.
Perry’s defense played well, too – Massillon led in the total yardage war by a 206‑131 margin.
But it was the Tigers’ best defensive game of the autumn.
“It was the last home game for the seniors,” said defensive tackle Duane Crenshaw, who returned in a big way after sitting out a week with a leg injury. “We wanted to go out like this. Perry’s players were talking about this game since the season started. We wanted to prove we were the better team.”
Four plays into the game, the miscue that plagued Perry nearly nagged the Tigers. Bart Letcavits dropped a Perry punt but picked it up on the bounce, and the Tigers had the ball on their 33.
But the Panthers stopped the Tigers on three plays, setting up the punt that resulted in Evans’ fumble recovery.
The turnover gave the Tigers the ball on the Perry 31. Six running plays resulted in a fourth and three from the 10. After a timeout, Mike Norris boomed a 27‑yard field goal and Massillon led 3‑0 with 4:22 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers enjoyed their finest moments after Tom Ross, performing in front of his uncle Mark Ross, a former Massillon mayor, returned the kickoff 29 yards to the Perry 41.
Perry elected to run and run some more, and it worked, with halfback Archie Herring, fullback Rick Phillips and quarterback Tracy Seery plowing to the Tiger 15 on second and five.
The drive stalled when a Seery‑to‑Herring pass was stopped at the 15 on fourth down, three yards short.
The Tigers took over, but not for long. On third and six from the 19, Sabin made up for his miscue, stepping in front of Chris Aegerter and intercepting a Paul Fabianich pass at the 38 and streaking down the left sideline to the 10.
A motion penalty nullified a second down Panther run to the 1‑yard line, and on fourth and goal from the 3, Joel Kessel was summoned to try a 20-yard field goal, which he drilled over the right part of the crossbar.
With 6:23 left in the first half, the score was tied at 3.
Late in the half, a Kessel punt rolled dead at the 1 with 1:11 left in the half, and the Panthers had a chance to brew up some trouble.
But Cornell Jackson blasted 11 yards on first down, and on the next play Fabianich uncorked a bomb that was hauled in by Wes Siegenhalter on the right sideline. Siegenthaler tumbled to the ground and was ruled down in bounds at the Perry 43, which kept the clock running at the end of the 45‑yard gain.
Only nine seconds remained in the half by the time the Tigers ran another play and called a timeout.
Fabianich then threw a 19‑yard strike to Letcavits over the middle, and another timeout was called with two seconds left. A 42‑yard field goal attempt by Norris was five yards short of sneaking over the crossbar, falling short and right.
The Panthers had a chance to seize momentum at the start of the second half when they kicked off and held the Tigers to three yards in three plays.
But the ensuing Punt resulted in Foster’s fumble recovery, giving the Tigers possession on the Perry 33.
Now it as Massillon’s turn to unleash a threesome of rushers. Michael Harris, Derick Newman and Jackson bulled the ball to the 3, where it was fourth and goal.
Norris came onto the field, but not dressed in a kicking shoe. A handoff went to Harris, who cut over the left side and ran through a big hole opened partially by a Norris block for a touchdown.
Norris’ PAT made it 10‑3 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty helped the Panthers drive with their ensuing possession near midfield, where they arrived at fourth and four.
The Panthers gambled.
With Kessel in punting formation, the snap was whipped short to Herring, who was stopped by C.J. Harris and Mark Harder two yards short of a first down.
The Tigers took over at their own 49, moved to the 20 with the help of a late hit call, but faced a fourth and three.
Norris has had some trouble finding a kicking groove, but Maronto told him to put on his kicking shoe.
“Mike Norris kept his belief in the team and himself, and we kept our faith in him,” ‘Maronto said.
Norris responded with a picturesque boot that rose from the left hash mark and traveled high and far over the crossbar to give the Tigers a 13‑3 bulge with 8:39 left in the game.
“The field goal was a big play,” Wakefield said.
When Ross slipped on the 11 while fielding the ensuing kickoff, and the Tiger defense stopped the Panthers right there, Perry had to punt.
Massillon controlled the rest of the game, running out of downs at the 3 with just 36 seconds left.
The game ended with some shouting and shoving in an incident growing out of the final play (see related information in today’s sports column).
The outburst ended quickly, and the players from both sides formed a long line and shook hands.
The game was billed as a game, which would be won by the team that played the best defense, and it turned out that way. Other than their scoring drive, the Panthers couldn’t get anything going.
The Tigers moved with only slightly more regularity.
The Tigers led 158‑89 in rushing yardage but gained only 2.6 yards per run.
Fabianich connected on four of eight passes for 80 yards. Seery connected on five of 12 throws far 53 yards.
Sabin and Herring combined to catch four passes for 46 yards.
Jackson was the game’s rushing leader with 48 yards in 16 carries, which isn’t overwhelming, except many of his carries were important in keeping drives alive, and in the Tigers’ lead in time of possession, 28:51 to 19:09.
Phillips led the Panthers with nine carries for 36 yards. Herring was held to 27 yards in 10 carries, leaving him 125 yards short of a 1,000‑yard season.
MASSILLON 13 PERRY 3 M P First downs rushing 8 4 First downs passing 2 2 First downs by penalty 2 1 Total first downs 12 7 Yards gained rushing 158 89 Yards lost rushing 32 11 Net yards rushing 126 78 Net yards passing 80 53 Total yards gained 206 131 Passes attempted 8 12 Passes completed 4 5 Passes int. by 0 1 Times kicked off 4 2 Kickoff average 49.0 40.0 Kick off return yards 19 63 Punts 3 4 Punting average 39.0 31.8 Punt return yards 2 11 Punts blocked by 0 0 Fumbles 2 3 Fumble lost 0 2 Penalties 5 4 Yards penalized 46 34 Touchdowns rushing 2 0 Touchdowns passing 0 0 Number of plays 60 40 Time of possession 28:51 19:09 Attendance 15,638
PERRY 0 3 0 0 3 MASSILLON 3 0 7 3 13
M ‑ FG Harris 27 P ‑ FG Kessel 20 M ‑ Harris 3 run (Norris kick) M ‑ FG Norris 37