MASSILLON Massillon seemed to have its hands grasped around an impressive season-opening win on Friday night.
Despite the challenges of a strange offseason and then a mid-game lightning delay, the Tigers found themselves in control of the football and a six-point lead over St. Edward with less than five minutes remaining. However, five minutes later, it was all gone for Massillon.
“Very bleak,” St. Edward coach Tom Lombardo said of his team’s chances late.
Bleak turned into brilliant for the Eagles as they converted a fourth-quarter Tiger pick into a little razzle-dazzle touchdown of their own, and it was the difference in what became a 24-23 victory at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The go-ahead touchdown came when Justin Slattery took a lateral pass from quarterback Christian Ramos, then threw a strike to a wide-open Joshua Kerekes for a 72-yard touchdown with 4:01 remaining.
Kerekes’ catch-and-run, which included him tight-roping the sidelines for the final 15 or so yards, was one of just five passes caught by Eagle receivers in the game. Two of those five went for second-half touchdowns, the other a Ramos-to-Andrew Cook 4-yard pass with 3:23 left in the third to cut Massillon’s lead to 20-17.
“Being the first game and the first scrimmage, we said, ‘Just play four quarters and keep playing,'” Lombardo said. “Obviously, we were having trouble stopping them early. … Our defense really made some plays at the end and obviously, we got the double pass.”
St. Edward was just 5-of-13 passing for 107 yards. The Eagles also had just 97 rushing yards.
The loss was Massillon’s first regular-season setback since falling to St. Vincent-St. Mary in Week 9 of the 2017 season. Since that setback, the Tigers had won 32 of 35 games, including 21 consecutive in the regular season.
It appeared that the streak was going to increase to 22 in a row after Massillon, while in possession of a 23-17 lead, had the ball at the Eagle 35 with the clock nearing four minutes. However, on third-and-8, a pass to the middle of the field was intercepted by St. Edward’s C.J. Hankins, who brought it back to the Eagle 41.
“In-game mistakes, you have to self-correct and move on,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said. “We don’t have time to sit around and mope about anything. … As a player on the field, you have to self-correct and move forward. You can’t let one negative play turn into two negative plays and all those things.’
Two plays later, what had been a Tiger lead turned into a Massillon deficit. The Tigers would have two possessions after giving up the lead, going three-and-out and punting from their own 15 on the first.
The second one, which started with 37 seconds remaining at the Massillon 31, reached the St. Edward 40. However, four incomplete passes – the final one with two seconds remaining – ended the Tigers’ hopes.
The ending spoiled what was, in many ways, a solid start for Massillon. After giving up a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Joal Castleberry with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter to fall behind the Eagles 7-3, the Tigers would score 14 straight points – on a pair of Zach Catrone-to-Jayden Ballard touchdowns – to lead 17-7 in the second quarter.
Catrone finished his first career start 14-of-29 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Ballard had a team-high 68 yards and the two touchdowns on two catches.
Raekwon Venson made his first career start as well at running back for the Tigers, rushing for 113 yards on 25 carries. That helped Massillon outgain St. Edward 396-204.
The probably for the Tigers was that they had to settle for three field goal, two of which were of less than 30 yards. Alex Bauer had two field goals of 26 yards, the last of those giving Massillon a 23-17 lead with 9:38 remaining, plus a career-long 41-yard boot.
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In 2017, a youthful Massillon squad faced off against a powerful Lakewood St. Edward team in the final scrimmage and was pasted quite handily in one half of football, 31-0. This year however these same Tigers, now older and loaded with talent and experience, returned to the field against the Eagles and came away a 21-14 winner. What a difference a year makes. Throughout the scrimmage, Massillon was able to effectively go toe-to-toe with St. Eds and looked at least on par with a team that is considered as a contender for the Division 1 state title.
Both offenses came out ready to showcase their explosive offensives and they didn’t disappoint. On the first play from scrimmage, the Eagle running back broke through the Tiger line and raced 65 yards to the Massillon five. From there, St. Eds scored on a 3rd down 5-yard pass that just crossed goal line, going up 7-0.
But the Tigers came right back, driving 70 yards for their initial score using a combination of Jamir Thomas runs and short-to-mid range passes from Aidan Longwell to a variety of receivers. It all culminated in a leaping catch in the end zone by Tre’von Morgan, which covered 11 yards and knotted the score at seven apiece.
St. Edward’s next drive was stopped on fourth down at the Massillon five, in spite of a 38-yard run on the first play of the series. However, Massillon failed to score and punted from the 14. The Eagles then drove rapidly down field, but a Tyree Broyles interception in the end zone of a 32-yard pass brought an early termination the threat. Unfortunately, the Tigers gave it right back after a pass bounced high off the hands of Aydrik Ford, with the defender timing the hit perfectly, which resulted in an interception. It took just a couple of plays for the Eagles to cross the end zone, making the score 14-7 in their favor.
The Tigers, however, came right back and moved 70 yards for the tying score, coming on an 18-yard pass from Longwell to Morgan. Tre’von ran a very good post pattern and was hit right on the numbers at the goal line in front of several defenders.
After both teams punted twice, Kyshad Mack came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, picking off a pass at the 25 and racing untouched into the end zone. That made the final score 21-14, to the delight of the couple hundred Tiger fans in attendance. The score came with just 24 seconds left on the clock.
After the break, both first units played one more series each, with Massillon gaining 25 yards and St. Edward failing to move the ball. Overall, during first team action, Massillon led in total yards 204 to 186.
Then the backups took over, during which the Zach Catrone tossed a 21-yard pass to Andrew Wilson-Lamp and another TD pass to Darien Williams.
Offensively, Massillon showed a balanced attack with several players making key plays throughout. The entire offense seems to have picked up where it left off at the end of last year. Thomas ran harder and looked quicker than last year. Longwell is bigger and stronger and has improved his accuracy. Particularly effective was the bubble-screen to Ford, who has a knack for juking out the first potential tackler and gaining at least ten yards aided by a serious block from Morgan before being stopped. In fact, all of the receivers showed that this group is a very dangerous lot.
Defensively, the long runs were the result of over-pursuit, something that was corrected by the second quarter. In fact, the defense look stronger as the scrimmage progressed to the point where they were completely shutting down the Eagle offense near the. In fact, during the last four series, the Tigers surrendered just 28 yards. This is a unit that is much quicker and more physical than last year.
Massillon will open the season next Friday as they host Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. Lake St. Edward will face Mentor.
A nice crowd turned out at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Friday night to watch Massillon and Lakewood St. Edward square off in a final pre-season scrimmage. Unfortunately, the Eagles had the better of it, winning 31-0 in one half of football.
St. Eds showed why they won Division 1 state titles in 2014 and 2015, while losing in overtime in a regional finals game last year. They have great size and speed, plus a wealth of experience. And their intensity level is beyond what Massillon saw in its first two scrimmages against Avon and Berea MIdpark. The youthful Tigers just didn’t match up well in this one.
The Eagles scored three touchdowns and a field goal in their first four possessions to open up a 24-0 advantage as the second quarter got underway. For the night, they rolled up 343 yards of offense, scoring on runs of 23, 25, 25 and 2 yards and kicking a 25-yard field goal. Defensively, they held Massillon to just 44 yards and three first downs. In fact, the Tigers never crossed midfield, except when Jamir Thomas intercepted a pass and returned it to the Eagle 31. Only they turned the ball over on downs four plays later.
On the bright side, the coaching staff has plenty of game film to use in pointing out areas that must be improved upon prior to the season opener against Mentor.
In earlier action, both the JV and the Freshmen teams scrimmaged. The format was four 10-play series each, starting at the opponent’s 40 yardline. The JV team lost to St. Eds four touchdowns to two. The Freshmen team defeated St. Eds six touchdowns to three.
Thrilling rally propels Tigers past St. Ed, into title game
By JOE SHAHEEN
The Massillon Tigers will wear the underdog tag for the third consecutive Saturday when they take on Cincinnati St. Xavier for Ohio’s big school state football championship at Fawcett Stadium in Canton this coming weekend.
In a game that bore an eerie resemblance to their Week Six comeback victory over St. Ignatius. the Tigers rallied for two touchdowns in the final six minutes of play to stun previously unbeaten Lakewood St. Edward 21‑17 in the state semifinals as 14,100 watched at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Saturday afternoon.
The victory means Massillon will play for the state championship for the first time since 1982. Kickoff this Saturday is 7 p.m.
“Our guys just don’t quit,” said Tiger head coach Tom Stacy. “It reminded me a lot of the St. Ignatius game. We just battled and battled and battled.
“Our community takes a lot of hits in the way they promote football. I’ll tell you what, we have the best high school football fans in the country. They support this football program like you can’t believe and that’s a big part of it. They deserve this playoff run. They deserve this state championship game we’re going to play in.”
Trailing 17‑7 after St. Edward marched 54 yards to the end zone in 10 plays with just over seven minutes to play, the Tigers began their improbable comeback.
“We went into our two‑minute offense,” Stacy said. “We felt like we had to get a couple of scores, we don’t have a lot of time left, let’s go two minute. We’ve been pretty good in our two‑minute offense all year. We haven’t used it a lot but when we have we’ve done a nice job of it. We just had a bunch of guys make plays.”
Quarterback Bobby Huth connected with Brett Huffman on two throws for 18 yards then hit Brian Gamble on a flat pass that netted 26 more. Two plays later Massillon was right back in the game ,as Huth found Gamble running free on a post pattern in the end zone for a 18‑yard touchdown.
Steve Schott’s point after was true and the Tigers cut their deficit to three points at 17‑14 with 5:21 remaining.
Then the defense did its part, forcing St. Edward into a rapid‑fire three‑and‑out series. Massillon took over at its 45‑yard line after the Eagle punt rolled out of bounds.
Huth’s pinpoint passing resulted in a 10‑yard hookup with Zack Vanryzin to the St. Edward 45 and an 11‑yard strike to Gamble at the 29‑yard line as the Tiger Nation roared its approval.
That’s when disaster struck. Huth, seeing the Tigers were in a bad play call for the St. Edward defense, turned to ask for a timeout. But the ball was snapped before he could signal the referee and it sailed over his head. By the time the junior fell on the pigskin, the Tigers had lost 20 yards back to the St. Edward 49 and needed 30 yards for a first down.
Undaunted, Huth spotted Gamble on a crossing pattern in the middle a he field and hit the junior tailback in stride. By the time the Eagles pulled him down, the Tigers had a first down at the 14‑yard line.
“I know we have great playmakers,” Huth said. “If I can get the ball in their hands, anything can happen.”
Another Huth to Gamble hook‑up moved the ball to the 5‑yard line. On second-and‑one from there, Gamble found a nice seam over left tackle and went into the end for the game‑winner with 1:56 to spare.
“Bobby (Huth) and Brian (Gamble), the guys up front pass protected, Brett Huffman had some great passes and runs … we just had a bunch of guys make plays,” Stacy said. “It wasn’t anything magical in play calling. Just guys making plays.”
St. Edward head coach John Gibbons, who saw his junior‑laden team bow out at 12‑1, had nothing but praise for the Tigers.
“Anytime you can come back in the fourth quarter and put two touchdowns on the board after we had taken that lead…,” Gibbons said, his voice trailing off.
“Once they started going pass first and spreading, we didn’t come up with the answer. We tried to get the ball quick out of the quarterback’s hand, and he was very elusive and he found guys. It was hard for us to run with those guys in man, especially when the quarterback was getting in open spaces. Then we tried to mix it up and use some zone coverages and take the pressure off that way and they seemed to adjust their routes. They just made great plays.”
St. Edward took the opening kickoff and kept the football for eight plays, hitting the Tiger defense with a heavy dose of Nate Oliver, who started in place of the injured Frank Edmonds at tailback. The Tigers forced a punt when Paris McCall and Lorenzo Grizzard stopped Oliver on a third‑and‑eight trap play.
Massillon took over at its own 15 after the Eagle punt and Huth immediately went to the air, connecting with Trey Miller on a short pass. Miller turned it into a 17‑yard gain with some nifty running to set up a first‑and‑10 at the Tiger 33.
That’s when lightening struck. Huth ‑ who completed 14 of 20 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon ‑ picked out Vanryzin who was wide open down the right sideline. The senior wideout hauled it in at the St. Edward 43 and scampered untouched into the end zone for a 67‑yard touchdown at 7:26 of the first quarter. Schott nailed the conversion kick and Massillon led 7‑0.
St. Edward came right back, marching from its 36 to the Massillon 15. But on third‑and‑five, a Brandon Frohnapple to John Dvoroznak completion turned into a nightmare for the Eagles. Dvoroznak was belted down along the right sideline and fumbled the ball. Robert Morris recovered for Massillon and Dvoroznak ‑ St. Ed’s best pass rusher ‑ would leave the game with a knee injury. He didn’t return.
St. Edward finally got on the scoreboard with 3:39 to play in the first half, moving 80 yards in nine plays for the game‑tying touchdown. Oliver’s 7‑yard run over left guard capped the nearly five‑minute march and Ben Rios’ extra point made it Massillon 7, St. Edward 7. All four Eagle first downs on the drive came via the air as Frohnapple went 16 of 22 for 173 yards on the day.
The Eagles owned a five minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, so it was key when Massillon opened the second half with a seven‑play, four‑minute drive, even though it did not yield any points.
However, St. Edward took over at its own 20 and moved 60 yards in nine plays to set up a 38‑yard field goal by Rios that gave the Eagles a 10‑7 lead at 2:31 of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with St. Edward moving 54 yards in 10 plays to open up a 10‑point lead. On third‑and‑goal from the 5, Frohnapple hit Kyle Hubbard in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Rios’ boot made it 17‑7 St. Edward at 7:02 of the fourth.
But the Tigers found paydirt on their next two drives for their 13th victory of this memorable 2005 campaign.
Both teams had just over 250 yards of total offense but Massillon limited the vaunted St. Edward ground game to just 84 yards in 37 attempts.
“We talked about three things we had to do to win the game,” Stacy said. “First and foremost was to stop their run. We knew they had a great offensive line. Big, strong and physical.
“We knew we had to play well in the kicking game and for the most part we did that. We thought we had to run the ball vertically better. We didn’t do a great job with that but we made up for it with our passing game.”
Stacy and Gibbons met at midfield after the final whistle.
The lasting memory of Massillon’s 21‑17 state semifinal victory over the St. Edward Eagles will be the Tigers’ two clutch fourth‑quarter touchdown drives that punched their ticket to this Saturday’s state championship game against Cincinnati St. Xavier.
But Massillon gave itself an opportunity to record one of the biggest victories in this storied program’s history when the Tiger defense forced St. Edward into a three‑and‑out series in the game’s final five minutes of play.
The Eagles were still on top at 17‑14 after Bobby Huth’s 18‑yard touchdown pass to Brian Gamble with 5:21 to play and with the way St. Edward had run the football and eaten up game clock all season long, its partisans didn’t seem all that concerned.
The Tiger defense, however, knew their assignment was to get the ball back and to do it as quickly as possible. ‑ St. Edward began at its own 26 after Nate Oliver’s 18‑yard kickoff return.
On first down Oliver hit into the middle to the Tiger defensive line but tackles Lorenzo Grizzard and Emery Saunders and ends Dirk Dickerhoof and Antonio James yielded only one yard.
Facing second‑and‑long, Eagle quarterback Brandon Frohnapple, who was having a fine day passing the football, hit wideout Kyle Hubbard along the left sideline. But Hubbard was out of bounds when he caught the ball, setting up a key third down play.
St. Edward had converted five of 11 third downs up to that point and most had come on the strength of Frohnapple’s accurate right arm.
The junior signal caller took the snap in shotgun formation and again looked toward Hubbard along the left sideline.
Tiger junior safety Andrew Dailey came swooping in from Frohnapple’s blind side and earholed the St. Edward quarterback for a 7‑yard sack that forced the Eagles to punt.
“That was huge,” St. Edward head coach John Gibbons said. “They’re rushing five. They have three guys playing zone underneath and three deep. There are places to throw the ball. However, you have to get it off.
“We’ve seen it before. They’ve been running that blitz all year. They didn’t blitz much in the game, until the end.”
Dailey was matter of fact about what amounted to the defensive play of the game.
“I just wanted to make sure I tackled him before he threw the ball,” he said.
“(The blitz) was called early in the game and there was confusion and we didn’t run it. We just stayed in normal coverage. We ran it a few more times in the game. That time I was wide open. I was unblocked.”
And Dailey made Frohnapple pay the price.
“We didn’t slide our protection the right way and (Dailey) came clean,” Gibbons said. “We do have a protection that can handle it but with all the screaming that’s going on out there…. When it gets that loud, guys don’t get the call.
“It’s one thing if the guy beats your blocker. When he can run clean in there on the dead run from the wide side, that’s not good for the offense.”
Dailey’s sack added to the momentum the Tiger offense had already generated on its previous scoring drive.
Massillon took the ensuing punt and quickly moved 55 yards in eight plays for the game‑winning touchdown and a trip to the Division I state title contest at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
Huth saves best for last
By CHRIS EASTERLING Chris.EasterlirigL@lndeOnline.com
Third‑and‑30 isn’t exactly the situation a quarterback wants to find himself in. But that’s what stared Massillon quarterback Bobby Huth and the rest of his Tiger teammates in the face with just over 2:00 left in Saturday’s Division I state semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward at Akron’s Rubber Bowl.
On first down from the Eagle 29, the shotgun snap sailed high over the head of Huth as he was attempting to call a timeout. The junior wisely fell on the loose pigskin at the St. Edward 49 instead of trying to pick the ball up and force a bad pass.
“I guess he (the center) couldn’t hear me,” Huth said. “We were trying to get a timeout called. They had four guys guarding our two over there. I wanted to get a timeout called to get a better play called.”
That better play came two plays later, when Huth hit Brian Gamble running a dig route across the field for a 35‑yard gain and a first down at the St. Edward 14. Two plays later, the Tigers were in the end zone for the go‑ahead touchdown in a 21‑17 come‑from‑behind victory over the Eagles to advance to this Saturday’s Division I state championship game against nationally ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier at Fawcett Stadium.
“I was looking for B.G.,” Huth said. “He was supposed to run a deep post over the middle, and he saw the safety over the top. We were just on the same page. I just threw it to him, and he was there. He had a good run after the play.”
Huth had a good run himself the whole game, finishing 14‑of‑20 passing for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He completed his first five passes in the game ‑ including a 67‑yard touchdown pass to Zack Vanryzin in the first quarter ‑ for 97 yards.
“I’m pretty happy, but there were still some passes I should have completed,” Huth said. “I should have been 16 or 17 for 20.”
But Huth saved his best for last. And he did so with the Tigers’ season hanging precariously in the balance.
“We were down 17‑7, and we just went to our two-minute offense,” Massillon coach Tom Stacy said. “We felt like ‘Hey, we have to get a couple of scores, and we don’t have a lot of time left.’ We’ve been pretty good in our two‑minute offense all year. We haven’t used it a lot, but when we have, we’ve done a pretty nice job with it. We just had a bunch of guys make plays, whether it was Bobby or Brian, or the guys up front in pass protection.”
Utilizing that pass blocking, as well as the skills of Gamble, Huth was 9‑of‑12 for 133 yards in the final quarter. Five of those completions went to Gamble for 98 yards and a touchdown.
“I was in a pretty good rhythm,” Huth said of the fourth‑quarter performance. “I like going to the two-minute offense. I wish we’d start the game off like that.”
For Huth, it was a chance to finish a job he started but was unable to complete against St. Ignatius back in Week Six. He was knocked out of that game with a concussion on Massillon’s final drive, and Shawn Weisend came in to direct the Tigers to the go‑ahead touchdown and their first‑ever win over the Cleveland parochial power.
On Saturday, it was Huth showing the poise and moxie of a grizzled veteran as he helped Massillon get another monkey of its back ‑ a 23‑year championship game drought ‑ with a come‑from‑behind performance against the Ignatius’ bitter rival.
“Shawn did a great job against St. Ignatius,” Huth said. “I don’t remember a lot of that game. I was pretty messed up. But I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it today.”
Drop gets Gamble fore
By CHRIS EASTERLING Chris.Easterling@IndeOnline.com
When Brian Gamble fumbled on Massillon’s first play of the fourth quarter in Saturday’s Division I state semifinal against Lakewood St. Edward at Akron’s Rubber Bowl, it looked like a back‑breaking play for the Tigers. That was especially true after the Eagles converted it into a touchdown for a 10‑point margin.
It turns out it might just have been a back‑breaker, only for St. Edward.
The fumble lit a tire under the 6‑foot, 190‑pound Tiger junior, who accounted for 103 total yards on six touches following the turnover. He also scored a pair of touchdowns as Massillon rallied for a 21‑17 victory and the program’s first state championship game berth since 1982.
“After I fumbled, I felt like I let the team down,” Gamble said. “I just wanted the ball in my hands so I could try to make up for it and make a play. Coach (Tom) Stacy gave me an opportunity to do that.”
Gamble finished the game with 62 rushing yards on 14 carries, but had just one carry after the fumble. Still, that one carry was huge ‑ a five‑yard touchdown jaunt with 1:56 remaining which set off a delirious celebration among the Tiger players and the orange‑and‑black clad portion of the 14,100 in attendance.
“Cory Shane did a good job of pulling up in there,” Gamble said of the touchdown run. “(Cory) and Quentin Nicholson did a great job opening it up for me, and I just found a crease and got into the end zone‑”
Where Gamble was most productive ‑ and most damaging to St. Edward ‑ was in the passing game. The receiver‑turned‑tailback did not have an official catch he did have a nine‑yard touchdown grab at the end of the first half called back due to holding ‑ through the first three quarters of play.
But when it mattered most, with the pulse of Massillon season weakening as each second ticked off the clock, Tiger quarterback Bobby Huth was able to find Gamble. Not just once, but five times for 98 yards.
“Sometimes they’ll have maybe a linebacker on me or a nickelback,” Gamble said. “I think I have an advantage because a lot of our plays go to the inside, so I’ll have leverage on them. Bobby just threw the rock to me, and I tried to make a play.”
No play outside of Gamble’s two touchdowns was as big as the 35‑yard catch and run, which converted a third‑and‑30 situation into a Massillon first down at the Eagle 14. Gamble made the catch across the middle, picked up a huge block from junior wideout Trey Miller and got the first down with 2:14 left to play.
Two plays later, Massillon was in the end zone for the go‑ahead score.
“We were on the same page,” Gamble said. “I was supposed to run a post, and I saw that they had it double covered so I just broke it off to the inside, and I was hoping Bobby saw me. He did and I caught it, and I knew I had to get a first down and get out of bounds and stop the clock.
“I think they started playing some ‘Cover 2,’ where they’d press up on me and try to double cover me. That’s what happened on the third‑and‑30 play, so I broke it off into a dig, and me and Bobby were on the same page.”
Gamble also hurt St. Edward in the kicking game. He averaged 26 yards on two kickoff returns, including a 31‑yarder which help set up the Tigers’ next‑to‑last scoring drive.
“He can do it all,” St. Edward coach John Gibbons said of Gamble. “He’s a defender, a kick returner, long snapper … what else can he do? I guess they could find another job for him to do. He’s tough kid.”
By WILLIAM R. SANDERSON William.Sanderson@IndeOnline.com
There are three games left for this year’s Massillon football team. If the defense plays like it did at Lakewood St. Edward on Saturday, the Tigers have a shot of finishing on an up-swing.
Tiger coach Rick Shepas wanted to emphasize the positive after Saturday’s 37-7 loss to St. Edward. Don’t be fooled by the final score either. The defense was definitely a positive.
Not only did the defense keep it close until the final quarter, the defense also scored Massillon ’s only points of the game.
“Our defense played their tails off,” Shepas said. “They were tough. They were physical. I think we had a game plan that was very solid.”
Massillon falls to 3-4 on the season and will have to sweep the rest of its slate to finish with a winning record. That begins on Saturday with a visit from Friendship Edison of Washington D.C. Then comes a trip to Warren Harding and a visit by archrival McKinley.
After having to forfeit four earlier victories because of an ineligible player, St. Edward is 3-4 on the season.
On the season, the Eagles had averaged 45 points per game. Limiting the high-flying Eagles to under their average had Shepas pleased with his defenders.
“What we wanted to do was get down on the ground and make piles to use our best tacklers to get over the top,” Shepas said.
Massillon scored the first points of the game on a big defensive play. With St. Edward’s Paxton Rose fighting his way toward the end zone, the ball was stripped by the Tigers and Massillon ’s Alex Dahlquist came up with it. He burst from the pack and ran 98 yards for a touchdown. Steve Schott’s kick made the score 7-0 Massillon with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
“Alex Dahlquist made a great play to score the touchdown,” Shepas said. “There is no question. That’s why he’s a captain. He really responded today. This is the best he’s played. That’s what we need out of a guy like that at this point.”
Dahlquist also intercepted a pass in the third quarter. Cornerback Zack Vanryzin also had an interception for the Tigers, who came up with three takeaways.
Massillon ’s defense held St. Edward to consecutive three-and-outs after the score, but a special teams gaffe let the Eagles get a foot in the door.
A St. Edward punt was permitted to bounce inside the 20. It took a nice Eagle bounce and was downed at the Tiger 1. Two plays later, the St. Edward got into the Massillon backfield and caused a fumble which Kurt Jarvis alertly jumped on for the safety instead of allowing the Eagles to recover for the touchdown.
St. Edward took advantage of the field position on the ensuing free kick and promptly scored on a 37-yard pass play from Anthony Gardner to Alex Spooner to give St. Ed’s a 9-7 lead with 8:10 on the second-quarter clock.
The Eagles scored two more touchdowns before halftime on a 65-yard run by Rose and a 15-yard pass from Gardner to Greg Miranda.
Massillon ’s defense held St. Edward off the scoreboard in the third quarter. St. Edward scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns thanks in part to a fumble recovered at the Tiger 25 and a 15-yard interception return by Kevin Reese.
For its part, Massillon ’s offense managed a collective 146 yards, including a net rushing total of 36 yards.
“We’ve got to get things going on offensive and that’s all that we can say about that right now,” Shepas said. “We’ve had instability at the running back position. It’s been hard to establish the running game and that puts a little more pressure on the quarterback. We’re still getting better. I think we got better this week. It’s a process.”
Junior quarterback Shawn Weisend made his first career start, but was replaced by junior Quentin Paulik following the first-half safety.
Weisend completed six of nine throws for 34 yards and an interception. Paulik was 12 of 30 for 76 yards with two interceptions.
“(Weisend) didn’t get injured,” Shepas said. “He checked himself out of the game. He had some stomach pain. It really wasn’t the issue.”
Lanale Robinson led the Tiger rushers with 18 yards on eight carries. Jarvis was the team’s top receiver with five catches for 35 yards.
“We’d love to be 10-0 right now, but we’re not,” Shepas said. “There are other teams that are in the same situation as us. You just work through that. You saw wood and you work through it.”
The Massillon Tigers turned the ball over nine times and the offense failed to dent the end zone in a 27-6 defeat at the hands of No.10-ranked Lakewood St. Edward in front of 8,306 fans at rainy Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday night.
Massillon trailed 10-6 at halftime and was down just 13-6 late in the third quarter when disaster struck. The tigers muffled a punt to give St. Edward possession at the Massillon 20. On the first snap, the Eagles scored when Ryan Adkins came free on a counter play and waltzed into the end zone to make it 19-6.
Things went downhill from there for the Tigers, who fall to 4-3 with a visit on tap next week by defending Division II state champion Dayton Chaminade-Julienne.
“We play good defense in the third quarter and then we give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter and we muffed the punt,” said tiger coach Rick Shepas. “That was it right there. We’re at 13-6 and we fumble the punt and then its over. That’ the bottom line.”
Actually, Massillon had a chance to draw first blood in the third quarter when its kickoff landed at the St. Edward 30, backed up and hit a Tiger coverage team member before it was finally covered by the Eagles.
“I really thought at halftime that they had outplayed us in the first half and we go in down just 10-6,” Shepas said. “That’s a situation that’s pretty good. Then we come out, kick the ball against the wind and we have a chance to recover the ball and we don’t.”
It was one of several missed opportunities for the Tigers. Another came in the first half when- after a shanked St. Edward punt – Massillon took over on the visitors’ 29-yard line. The tigers moved the ball inside the one-yard line and had two cracks from there but failed to reach pay dirt.
“That was very critical,” Shepas concurred. “We’ve got the ball on the six-inch line. We have two attempts from six inches and we don’t get in. I think that pretty much sums up the evening from the offensive standpoint. I mean, we really didn’t get an offensive touchdown.” Was it a hangover from last Saturday’s drubbing by St. Ignatius? Shepas didn’t think so.
“I felt like the guys came out ready to play,” he said. “Our defense did an outstanding job, no question.”
Then Shepas got to the crux of the Tigers problems, and offensive line that has had different personnel in different positions in each game this year.
“We continue to juggle offensive linemen and you get some injuries here or there but it’s the juggling of the offensive line that’s giving us a lack of consistency,” said Shepas.
“We moved the football a little bit but never consistently at all. Never consistently.”
And there were those nine turnovers, not to take anything away from St. Edward, which moves to 7-1 with St. Ignatius up next.
“I called them a feisty group,” St. Edward head coach John Gibbons said of his Eagles. “They’ve been on the road all year and sometimes a team can be fazed by that. But these guys just go out and play football from the moment they get off the bus. That’s just the personality of this team.
St. Edward broke on top when Joe Kleinsmith, with the aid of a strong tail wind, drilled a 48-yard field goal at 6:24 of the first quarter.
It was set up by a 26-yard Kyle Skoczen to Haruki Nakamura completion after Massillon utilized the quick kick on third-and-15 from the Tiger 30.
Paris McCall then gave Massillon the short field when he fell in a fumbled center snap at the St. Edward 33. Five plays later, a 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked by St. Edward and returned for an apparent Eagle touchdown. However, a late flag for blocking in the back too the points off the scoreboard, enraging Gibbons.
St. Edward fumbled the ball away on its second play following the change of possession, only to get it right back as the Tigers fumbled on their first snap.
St. Edward took over at the Massillon 42 and the teams exchanged 15-yard penalties before Skoczen displayed his speed on a keeper play around left end. The 6-foot-3, 193 pound junior got to the corner and sprinted untouched 31 yards for the touchdown.
Kleinsmith nailed the point after and St. Edward was up 10-0 at 11:52 of the second quarter.
Taking over at their own 13 following the ensuing kickoff, Massillon embarked on its best drive on the game. With Steve Hymes mixing short passes to Billy Relford and Wayne Gates with keeper plays, the Tigers moved to the St. Edward 24, where they faced a fourth-and-two play call.
Hymes took the shotgun snap, rolled left, then attempted what appeared to be a push pass. St. Ed junior Nate Smith made a fine interception, then inexplicably ran toward and into the tiger end zone, where Relford stripped away the ball and recovered for a Massillon touchdown.
A two-point conversion run was stopped cold but the Tigers were back in the game, trailing 10-6 at 7:12 of the second quarter.
The Massillon defense responded by holding St. Edward to a three-and-out series and a wind blown shanked punt gave the Tigers the short field once again at the Eagle 29.
Three plays later, Tuffy Woods broke free on a quick hitter up the middle for 11 yards to the St. Ed 5.
The Tigers got it to the 1-yard line but failed to penetrate the end zone in two plays and the Eagles had dodged a bullet.
St. Ed scored on a 35-yard Kleinsmith field goal midway through the third period as the tiger defense continued to play inspired football in the second half.
The muffed punt followed and it all went south from there for the Tigers.
“We’re 13-6 with these guys and they’ve gone overtime against Warren and we’re right there with them until we make the mistake,” Shepas concluded.
Tigers survive a shootout with St. Ed Abdul’s clutch 36‑yard field goal gives Massillon a 28‑27 victory
By MIKE KEATING Independent Sports Writer
Maintaining their poise with the outcome on the line, the Massillon Tigers executed the two‑minute offense to perfection, putting themselves in position to win a football game.
And junior kicker David Abdul delivered a 36‑yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining, lifting the Tigers to a 28‑27 victory over Lakewood St. Edward before 6,000 at Lakewood Stadium, Friday night.
“We told him he would get opportunities to kick a lot of field goals and he has done a great job for us,” said Massillon head coach Rick Shepas.
Abdul booted the game winning field goal after Massillon had called time out to set up the kick, followed by back‑to‑back St. Edward time‑outs to ice the kicker.
“I didn’t mind the wait,” smiled Abdul. “Those two (St. Edward time‑outs) kind of relaxed me.”
Abdul, a 5‑foot‑9, 174‑pound junior, booted the ball from the left hashmark. The kick cleared the uprights by 15 yards.
“Everything was perfect,” Abdul said. “The snap by (sophomore) James Helschel was perfect. Marquis Williams is a great holder and he got the ball down quickly.”
Williams, a 5‑ 11, 168‑pound junior, gave Helschel plenty of credit. “He isn’t our regular snapper,” Williams said. “He did a great job in a pressure situation of making a good snap.”
Massillon, which improved to 7‑2 heading into next Saturday’s rivalry against McKinley, got the ball back on its own 16‑yard line and trailing 27‑25 with 2:00 left.
Following a five‑yard penalty, the Tigers came up with a big play that set the stage for Abdul’s game‑winning field goal.
Quarterback Justin Zwick rolled right and was pressured by two St. Edward defenders. Throwing on the run, Zwick found a wideopen Montale Watkins on the right side around the Massillon 45. Watkins, a 5‑11, 180‑pound senior, raced upfield before he was hauled down at the St. Edward 37.
“The cornerback pushed me to the inside, then released,” Watkins said. “The safety never came over, so I just sat there.
“It seemed like the ball took forever to get there, but I just made sure I caught it” before I did anything else.”
The pass play covered 52 yards. There was 1:39 remaining.
Zwick hit running back Perry James over the middle for 12 yards, but St. Edward linebacker Dan Tyler sacked Zwick for a nine‑yard loss, pushing the ball back to the Massillon 34.
James, who rushed for 110 yards in the first half, then got the call on a draw play. He ripped off 15 yards to the 19. Shepas promptly called his final time‑out.
“We have confidence in our offense, no matter how much time is left,” Zwick said.
And Abdul delievered.
St. Edward trailed at halftime, but moved ahead 20‑18 at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter.
Running back Raishaun Stover, a 5‑9, 162‑pound junior, found daylight on an isolation play to the left, running 40 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Troy Smith added the two‑point conversion on a running play, putting the Eagles ahead.
On St. Edward’s next possession, Smith hit Tyler for a 45‑yard gain on a seam route, moving the ball to the Massillon 34.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, St. Edward was faced with a fourth‑and‑one from the Massillon 25. Smith optioned left for three yards, picking up the first down.
Three plays later, Smith optioned right and pitched the ball to Stover. The running back angled toward the end zone and scored, capping a nine‑play, 82‑yard drive. Brian Pierce added the conversion kick to give the Eagles a 27‑18 lead with 10:22 to play.
Undaunted, the Tigers kept their composure and battled back.
“This was a good win because we had to come from behind against a good football team,” Shepas said. “It also helps to have players who can make big plays.”
St. Edward scored on its first possession of the game, with Smith engineering a six‑play, 61‑yard drive.
Two big plays keyed the drive. Smith hit wide out Michael Bowman for 30 yards on a post pattern that moved the ball to the Massillon 21‑yard line. Two plays later, Smith ran a quarterback draw for 19 yards and a touchdown. The extra‑point kick was wide, but St. Edward led 6‑0 at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter.
The Eagles missed a golden opportunity to expand their lead in the first quarter after the Tigers failed to get off a punt from their own 20‑yard line.
Starting 20 yards away from paydirt, St. Edward failed to pick up a first down. A 29-yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the right and the Tigers were still only six points down.
Capitalizing on the defensive stand, Massillon made the first of several big offensive plays on its second possession. James motored 30 yards to midfield on a draw play. Following a St. Edward offside penalty, James picked up nine more yards on a stretch play to the left.
The march bogged down, so Abdul was summoned for a field‑goal try, His attempt from 52 yards out barely cleared the upright, but the Tigers were on the scoreboard, trailing 6‑3 at the 4:05 mark of the first quarter.
After Massillon failed to pick up a first down when a running play was stopped four yards short of a first down on fourth‑and-six from the St. Edward 43, the Eagles padded their lead.
Stover took a handoff, found a gigantic running lane to his left, and outran the Massillon secondary for a 57‑yard touchdown run. The try for the two‑point conversion on a running play failed, but St. Edward opened up a 12‑3 lead with 8:45 left until halftime.
Wasting little time on each snap, the Tigers managed to take lead before intermission, scoring on each of their next two possessions.
After the Stover touchdown, Jesse Robinson’s 22‑yard kickoff return combined with a personal foul penalty called against St Edward gave Massillon the ball at the St. Edward 45.
Wasting little time off the clock, Zwick completed passes of 10 yards to Watkins and 14 yards to Williams, moving the ball to the St. Edward 19.
James then took over, picking up six yards on a draw play, 10 more yards on a sweep to the right, and one more yard on another sweep to the right. With St. Edward concentrating on James, King got the ball on a counter play, and rumbled untouched into the end zone. Abdul’s extra‑point made it 12‑10 with 6:02 left in the first half.
St. Edward mounted another drive. Sophomore quarterback Shaun Carney teamed with Tyler for a 68‑yard pass play that moved the ball to the Massillon 10. However, the Tigers stiffened defensively. A fourth down pass to Bowman in the end zone was battled away by cornerback Matt Shem and the Tigers regained possession on their seven with 3:24 remaining in the first half.
Massillon quickly moved 93 yards in nine plays, the last four through the air. Zwick and Robinson hooked up on a 42‑yard pass play that moved the ball to the St. Edward 28.
Zwick came back with a six‑yard completion to James in the right flat, then hit Robinson for 15 more yards, setting up a seven‑yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeremiah Drobney. Zwick hit a wide‑open Robinson in the middle of the end zone, giving the Tigers an 18‑12 lead with 33 seconds left until halftime.
And setting up a wild second half.
MASSILLON 28 ST. EDWARD 27 M S First downs rushing 9 11 First downs passing 9 8 First downs by penalty 1 1 TOTAL first downs 19 20 Net yards rushing 194 256 Net yards passing 263 278 TOTAL yards 457 534 Passes attempted 30 17 Passes completed 17 11 Passes intercepted 0 1 Punts 2 2 Punting average 47.0 40.0 Fumbles/Lost 3/2 0/0 Penalties 6 9 Yards penalized 74 99
MASSILLON 3 15 0 10 28 ST. EDWARD 6 6 8 7 27
SCORING SE ‑ Smith 19 run (kick failed) M ‑ FG Abdul 52 SE ‑ Stover 57 run (run failed) M ‑ King 2 run (Abdul kick) M ‑ Drobney 7 pass from Zwick (Robinson pass from Zwick) SE ‑ Stover 40 run (Smith run) SE ‑Stover 9 run (Pierce kick) M ‑ Watkins 20 pass from King (Abdul kick) M ‑ FG Abdul 36
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Massillon rushing: James 21‑143, Zwick 3‑61. St. Edwards rushing: Stover 21‑167 Smith 11‑72.
Massillon passing: Zwick 16‑29 243 yards, 1 INT; King 1‑1 20 yards 1 INT St. Edwards passing: Smith 5‑9 123 yards, 1 INT; Carney 6‑8 155 yards.
Massillon receiving: Robinson 5‑95, James 4‑22, Watkins 3‑83; Drobney 3‑51 St. Edwards receiving: Tyler 4‑148, Bowman 2‑56 Kreg Rotthoff
Massillon cruises with Marshall at controls F By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
Maybe it doesn’t matter who’s under center. The Massillon Tigers, without the services of starting quarterback Dave Irwin for the first half, hardly missed a beat in handing the Lakewood St. Edward Eagles a 31-14 defeat in front of 8,351 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday night.
Brett Marshall filled in for Irwin – who suffered a gashed right index finger in metal shop on Monday – and threw for three touchdowns as Massillon remained undefeated at 9-0.
Irwin even got into the act, starting the second half with a glove on his injured hand. The senior tri-captain still completed seven of 12 aerials for 113 yards and one touchdown. That scoring pass, his 17th this year, set a new Massillon single-season TD mark.
But this night belonged to Marshall, who could barely contain himself afterward. “I couldn’t feel better right now,” Marshall said. “I expected to go out and do a good job but nothing like this. This is great.” Right from the start, Massillon’s Air Raid Attack offense seemed to be in synch despite the change in the triggerman.
Massillon’s first possession began at its 49 after a St. Edward punt and Jessie Scott got things rolling with a 35 yard gain off right guard and tackle that moved the ball to the Eagles’ 12. On second and 12 from the 14, Marshall dropped back and lofted a perfectly throw pass over Jon Stanke’s right shoulder and into his waiting arms in the end zone for a quick six.
“We had a play action fake and I told the linemen, `You get the job done and I’ll get the job done,”‘ Marshall said. “They gave me time and I laid it out there. At first I thought I overthrew it. Then I saw his arms outstretched and touchdown. From there on I had all the confidence in the world.”
The referee had barely raised his arms to signal a touchdown before Marshall was changing into his kicking shoe. The senior drilled the point after kick and Massillon led 7-0 at 6:43 of the first quarter.
Tigers junior safety Jared Frank, filling in for the injured Jason Jarvis, Stripped the football away from a St. Ed receiver on the Eagles next possession and Ty McElroy recovered for Massillon near midfield.
However, the Tigers were unable to move the ball as the teams went on to exchange three punts.
St. Ed’s quarterback Joe Marcoguiseppe hooked up with Michael Bowman on a post pattern that went for 47 yards to set the Eagles up with a first and-10 at the Tiger 12-yard line. Two snaps later, Alphonso Hodge took a handoff, faked to the outside and cut up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown jaunt. Chris Bonezzi was true with the extra point kick and the game was tied 7-7 at 1:27 of the first.
The score remained deadlocked until late in the first half when Tiger linebacker Steve Eyerman took Hodge down for a loss of three and defensive tackle Ellery Moore forced Marcoguiseppe to throw away a fourth down pass to give Massillon the ball at its own, 34.
An illegal procedure call set the Tigers back five yards and then the fireworks began. On first-and-15, Marshall dropped to pass and began to scramble left as the Eagles pass rush began to penetrate. The Tiger QB then changed direction, heading toward the right sideline before releasing a short pass to Scott.
The lightning quick senior worked his way along the right sideline to midfield, then cut back into the open at the 40 and left the St. Ed’s defenders in his wake for a 71-yard touchdown pass and run. Marshall’s kick made it 14-7 Tigers at 2:24 of the first half.
After Massillon’s defense forced a quick punt’, Marshall connected on consecutive aerials to Dave Bumgarner and Anthony Battle to move the ball 33 yards to the visitor’s 25. Then he scrambled for 12 more yards before the drive stalled at the Eagles 12. From there, Marshall calmly switched shoes and was perfect on a 29-yard field goal to make it 17-7 at the break.
Irwin took just about everyone by surprise by starting the second half. But it wasn’t until the Tigers fifth possession of the half, early in the fourth quarter, that they put up their third touchdown of the night.
The score was set up by Matt Shem’s interception and return to the St. Ed’s four-yard line. Two penalties and a sack set up second-and-goal from the 30 but Irwin never wavered. He dropped back to pass and found Jessie Robinson striding toward the end zone.
The pass was under thrown and Robinson stopped dead in his tracks as the defensive back blew past him at the 2. The Tiger wideout calmly caught the football and walked into the endzone for the touchdown at 10:05 of the fourth quarter to make it a 24-7 contest.
“It really doesn’t matter who the quarterback is,” Irwin said modestly. “The offense runs the same way. As long as the line blocks and the receivers run their routes, we’ll be fine.”
Massillon put up one last score after St. Edward made it 24-14 on Alphonso Hodge’s one-yard TD plunge at 6:38 of the fourth.
After the Eagles’ onside kick was recovered by Massillon, the Tigers went to work at their own 38-yard line. Two running plays netted two yards to set up third-and-eight from the 40. Marshall dropped to pass and pitched it to Dave Bumgarner along the left sideline. The senior fullback did the rest, breaking two tackles and racing the rest of the way to pay dirt. Marshall’s PAT made it 31-14 with just over five minutes to play.
“That felt good,” Marshall said. “I had a little break. The coaches came up and told me Irwin wanted to get some snaps in to get confident for McKinley. I’d feel the same way. “I went back out there and finished the job. Coach DiLoretto told me to put one more on the board and we put one more on the board.”
“We’re really glad to get that win with Brett in there at quarterback,” said Rick Shepas. “He really did a nice job. “We were fortunate to get Dave Irwin some snaps and Seth Stefanko got some snaps too. This is a game before we get ready for next week that you want to get healthy and get out of there.”
Next week, of course, is the 106th meeting between the Tigers and the McKinley Bulldogs. Game time at Fawcett Stadium one week from today is 2 p.m.
MASSILLON 31 ST. EDWARD 14
M S First downs rushing 7 9 First downs passing 8 7 First downs by penalty 0 2 TOTAL first downs 15 18 Net yards rushing 125 114 Net yards passing 300 134 TOTAL yards 425 248 Passes attempted 26 35 Passes completed 16 9 Passes intercepted 0 1 Punts 6 7 Punting average 29.7 33.3 Fumbles/Lost 4/2 4/2 Penalties 8 6 Yards penalized 65 40
MASSILLON 07 10 00 14 31 ST. EDWARD 07 00 00 07 14
M – Stanke 14 pass from Marshall (Marshall kick) S – Hodge 11 run (Pierce kick) M – Scott 71 pass from Marshall (Marshall kick) M – Marshall 29 field goal M – Robinson 30 pass from Irwin (Marshall kick) S – Hodge 1 run (Pierce kick) M – Bumgarner 60 pass from Marshall (Marshall kick)
Massillon rushing: Scott 12-85, James 6-13, Smith 2-34, King 2-16. St. Ed rushing: Hodge 25-100.
Massillon passing: Marshall 8-13-183 3 TDs, Irwin 7-12-58 1 TD St. Ed passing: Marcoguiseppe 9-34-134 1 INT.
Massillon receiving: Battle 5-75, Bumgarner 3-76, Scott 2-73. St. Ed receiving: Hodge 3-41