Tag: Leon Ashcraft

History

1994: Massillon 20, Canton McKinley 27

Mistakes doom Tigers’ title run
Massillon ends with 10-2 slate

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

The one constant in the Mas­sillon Tigers’ late‑season three ­game run of excellence was missing in their 27‑20 Division I regional championship loss to the McKinley Bulldogs before a throng of 34,208 at the Akron Rubber Bowl, Saturday night.

The Tigers simply did not play mistake‑free football against their arch‑rivals the way they did in averaging 36 points in defeating St. Vincent-­St. Mary’s in Week 9, McKinley in Week 10 and Fremont Ross in the playoff opener.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley – Playoffs

Massillon’s mistakes weren’t all of the glaring variety, but the Pups ‑ who meet St. Igna­tius this Saturday at the Rubber Bowl in the Division I state semifinals ‑ seemed to always capitalize. Among the more costly errors:

The Tigers fumbled away the football at midfield on their first possession and the Bull­dogs drove 52 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

The Bulldogs’ second score came on Adrian Brown’s 71­-yard burst and included several broken or missed tackles within 10 yards of the line of scrim­mage.

McKinley’s third tally appeared to be on a blown coverage assignment in the secondary which resulted in a 47‑yard Josh McDaniels‑to-­Mark Thewes TD strike.

Massillon’s second‑to‑last drive included a key illegal pro­ceedure penalty. It ended in a punt with 7:47 to play.

The Tigers’ final ill‑fated series reached the McKinley side of the field when an illegal shift penalty, a delay of game penalty and a dropped pass doomed their comeback.

“You can’t have those kind of things, missed tackles and penalties, against a quality opponent like McKinley,” Tiger mentor Jack Ross said after­ward.

“But I wish McKinley all the best. They are a very good foot­ball team and they played a great game out there tonight. They will represent the region well.”

Massillon certainly did not self destruct in the 12th week of the season. The Tigers had the Pups holding their collective breaths until the final seconds, ticked off the scoreboard.

The Bulldogs scored first 26‑yard wingback reverse, ex­ecuted to perfection by Jaiyvon­ne Richards.

Massillon took the ensuing kickoff and drove 73 yards in just seven plays to knot the score at 7‑7. Willie Spencer Jr. was at his best on the drive, run­ning the option with a magi­cian’s sleight of hand, all the while frustrating the McKinley defense.

On the first snap of their next possession, the Bulldogs re­gained the lead. Brown got the ball on a draw play and dashed to paydirt, leaving several Ti­gers in his wake. The conver­sion kick was wide and the Pups led 13‑7.

It was the type of play, com­ing right after Massillon scored to even the game, that could’ve broken a lesser team’s spirit. But the Tigers came resolutely back, marching 80 yards in 17 plays. Spencer covered the final seven on an option keeper around his left end. Pribich’s boot gave the locals the lead 14­-13 with 6:44 until halftime.

The Bulldogs took the second half kickoff and made a state­ment, driving 65 yards in nine plays. Kinta Mitchell’s 32‑yard gallop eventually led to his one­-yard scoring burst at 7:10 of the third stanza. McKinley failed on a two‑point pass play and it was a 19‑14 game.

Spencer got the TD hat trick as the Tigers regained the lead with an 11‑play, 62‑yard drive. The senior signal caller com­pleted clutch passes to Devon Williams (18 yards), Ryan Sha­nor (10 yards), and Leon Ashcraft (5 yards), before sweeping in from the 3‑yard line for his third tally of the evening.

After a pass fell incomplete on the try for a two‑point conversion, the Tigers owned a 20‑19 lead at 1:32 of the third period.

But the Bulldogs would land the final punch on this night. It was a roundhouse right in the form of the 47‑yard McDaniels to Thewes pass play. Julius Lancaster took a pitch from McDaniels, then hit the senior QB on a throwback for the two ­point conversion that made it McKinley 27‑20 with 11:11 to play.

Massillon drove to the McKin­ley 49, where an illegal procedure penalty changed a second-­and‑five play call into second­-and‑ten. Ace Gillens sacked Spencer two plays later to force a punt.

Spencer was injured on McKinley’s ensuing series when he brought down Brown on a pitch out around left end. The Bulldogs were forced to punt one play later and the Ti­gers last chance began at their 9‑yard line.

Ashcraft asserted his cham­pionship mettle by getting Mas­sillon out of the hole on a 34‑yard first down burst behind Aric Simpson and Tim Mendenhall. The 5‑foot, 7‑inch, senior tail­back finished the night with 131 yards on 21 carries.

With senior Mark Hiegl now at the controls, Jeremy Fraelich gained 11 yards up the middle to the McKinley 46. An illegal shift penalty followed, then a delay of game one play later set up second‑and‑20 at the Massillon 44. Hiegl rolled right and hit a receiver at the McKin­ley 33, but the ball fell incom­plete.
Two plays later the Bulldog pass rush forced an incomple­tion and Massillon’s unlikely run had ended.

“That’s the problem in the playoffs,” Rose concluded, unless you go all the way, you end on a sour note.

“Unfortunately, it had to hap­pen against (McKinley). That certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”

MCKINLEY 27
MASSILLON 20
M MCK
First downs rushing 12 9
First downs passing 6 5
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 18 14
Net yards rushing 253 226
Net yards passing 92 120
Total yards gained 345 346
Passes attempted 13 12
Passes completed 7 9
Passes int. 0 0
Kickoff return yards 89 41
Punts 2 2
Punting average 36.5 44.0
Punt return yards 0 0
Fumbles 1 0
Fumbles lost 1 0
Penalties 6 4
Yards penalized 41 35
Number of plays 55 38
Time of possession 27.52 20.08
Attendance 34,208

MASSILLON 7 7 6 0 20
MCKINLEY 13 0 6 8 27

SCORING SUMMARY

MCK ‑ Richards 26 run (McDaniels kick)
M ‑ Spencer 21 run (Pribich kick)
MCK ‑ Brown 70 run (kick failed)
M ‑ Spencer 6 run (Pribich kick)
MCK ‑ Mitchell 1 run (pass failed)
M ‑ Spencer 4 run (pass failed)
MCK ‑ Thewes 46 pass from McDaniels
(McDaniels pass from Lancaster)

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Ashcraft 21‑131;
Spencer 15‑96,3 TDs;
Fraelich 3‑17.
McKin­ley
Brown 13‑139, 1 TD;
Mitchell 7‑63, 1 TD;
Richards 1‑26 1 TD.

Passing:
Massillon
Spencer 7‑10 92
Hiegl 0‑30.
McKinley
McDaniels 9-12 120, 1 TD.

Receiving:
Massillon
Redrick 4‑58;
Wil­liams 1‑19;
Shanor 1‑11;
Ashcraft 1‑5.
McKinley
Thewes 3‑63, 1 TD;
Brown 3­-25;
Richards 2‑21;
Mitchell 1‑11.


Leon Ashcraft

History

1994: Massillon 35, Fremont Ross 28

Here we go again
Tigers face Pups after edging Ross

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

The Massillon Tigers didn’t exactly stop Fremont Ross star tailback Charles Woodson at Byers Field in Parma, Saturday.

In the end, however, it was the defense’s motto of “Make ‘em take another snap” that best explains how the Tigers survived Woodson’s onslaught and secured a 35‑28 first round Division I playoff victory.

The win enables Massillon to play on, with a date Saturday against the McKinley Bulldogs in the Region 2 final at the Akron Rubber Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Woodson, 6‑foot, 1‑inch, and 190 pounds of dynamite, ex­ploded for 231 yards rushing and four touchdowns. It looked as if he’d make it five TD’s after the Tigers took a seven‑point lead with just 3:02 to play in the game.

Ross drove from its 17 to the Massillon 2, but was out of time­outs with less than :10 to play. Little Giants quarterback Shane Moran rolled right and threw into a crowd, where Tigers outside linebacker Matt Robinson tipped and then inter­cepted the football to wrap up the victory.

“When they got down there close,” Robinson said after­ward, “I kept thinking to myself, ‘Make ’em take another snap. Something good will happen if we just make ’em take another snap.’”

That something good turned out to be Robinson’s game ­saving pick.

A couple of stout defensive plays by fellow senior Steve Griffith helped set up Robin­son’s drive killer. On the third snap of the Little Giants’ final possession of the 1994 season. Woodson set sail for the end zone through a seam in the defense. He would’ve made it if not for Griffith, who ran down the speedster at the Ross 23.

Three plays later, Griffith knifed through to nail Woodson for a three‑yard loss on a third­and‑3 play.

Ross still got down to the sha­dow of the Tigers goal posts, but never did get that game‑tying touchdown.

The Tigers game‑winning drive was clutch football at its best. It began at the Massillon 21 with 10:53 to play after Ross had tied the game for the third time at 28‑28 on Woodson’s 13­yard TD burst off the right side is line.

Massillon started in a hole when false start penalty set up a second‑and‑14 at the 17. But Wil­lie Spencer found Devon Wil­liams on a curl pattern to the 30 and Leon Ashcraft converted the first down on a run over left guard.

Spencer and Williams hooked up again on a rollout left and the sophomore reached the Ross 22 before he was dragged down.

The Tigers went into their ball control mode, eating up the clock by giving the ball to Ashcraft on four consecutive plays. Then, on third‑and‑six from the Ross 7, Spencer rolled right … and rolled… and rolled, waiting for a receiver to break open. Finally, junior Vaughn Mohler did just that and Spencer threw a strike for the touchdown.

Nick Pribich nailed the extra point to cap the 13‑play, 78‑yard season‑extending drive.

“That play was supposed to go to Leon, but he was co­vered,” Spencer explained. “So I looked for my secondary re­ceiver and he was covered. I thought I was going to have to run out of bounds, but then I saw Vaughn and I threw it and he caught it.”

Massillon broke on top after Mark Lightfoot recovered a Ross fumble at the Little Giants 30 on the third snap of the game.

After an option pitch to Mohler moved the ball 26 yards to the Ross 3, Spencer got in on a quarterback sneak. Pribich’s kick made it 7‑0 at the 8:35 mark of the first quarter.

Ross, capitalizing on a muf­fed pooch kick, moved 46 yards in nine plays. Woodson went in over right tackle with 4:40 to go in the first to make it 7‑6 as the PAT was wide left.

Massillon took but six plays to move 86 yards on its next pos­session. Spencer, employing a textbook play fake, found Wil­liams wide open for 51‑yard touchdown bomb. Pribich’s boot made it 14‑6 with 1:44 left in the opening stanza.

Ross matched the Tigers six-­play, 86‑yard scoring drive with one of its own. Woodson covered the final 44 yards when his ­offensive line opened a hole on the left side and he raced through to the end zone with 7:06 until halftime.

The Tigers countered with an eight‑play, 76‑yard scoring series. Ashcraft rushed for 47 of his team‑high 136 yards on the drive. Spencer cashed it in on a six‑yard bootleg around right end. He tiptoed into the end zone at the 3:46 mark of the second quarter to make it 21‑14 Tigers.

But Ross displayed its mettle by going 65 yards in eight snaps. Woodson carried on the final four plays of the scoring drive, finding the end zone on a pitch around right end from three yards out. The PAT made it 21-21 at halftime.

Massillon came out and jam­med the second half kickoff right down the Little Giants’ throats. The Tigers’ 83‑yard drive took 17 plays and used all but three minutes of the third period. Ryan Shanor’s 12‑yard leaping catch for a first down keyed the march. Ashcraft cap­ped it from a yard out to make it a 28‑21 contest.

Woodson carried the ball on all four plays of Ross’ final scor­ing drive, knotting the game at 28‑28 with 10:53 to play.

MASSILLON 35
FREMONT 28
M F
First downs rushing 13 14
First downs passing 6 1
First downs penalty 2 2
Total first downs 21 17
Net yards rushing 236 272
Net yards passing 130 36
Total yards gained 366 308
Passes attempted 11 7
Passes completed 7 4
Passes int. 0 2
Times kicked off 6 5
Kickoff average 33.5 51.6
Kickoff return yards 51 19
Punts 1 2
Punting average 27.0 26.5
Punt return yards 0 ‑3
Fumbles 1 1
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 7 4
Yards penalized 41 31
3rd‑down conver 7‑11 0‑5
Average 1st‑down yds. 7.5 8.0
Number of plays 59 43
Time of possession 30:23 17:37
Attendance 13,400

FREMONT 6 15 0 7 28
MASSILLON 14 7 7 7 35

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
MASSILLON
Ashcraft 28‑136, 1 TD;
Spencer 16‑66,2 TDs.
FREMONT
Wood­son 28‑231, 4 TDs.

Passing:
MASSILLON
Spencer 7‑11‑130,2 TDs.
FREMONT
Moran 4‑6‑36‑1,
Ross 0‑1‑0‑1.

Receiving:
MASSILLON
Williams 3‑89, 1 TD;
Shanor 2‑23;
Ashcraft 1 ‑11;
Mohler 1‑7, 1 TD.
FREMONT
Woodson 1‑16,
Kusmer 1‑11,
Lather 1‑9.


Leon Ashcraft

History

1994: Massillon 42, Canton McKinley 41

Game of the century
MASSILLON WINS 42-41 SHOOTOUT

By J0E SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

It was a fitting 100th game be­tween the Massillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium this after­noon.

The storied rivalry went into overtime before the Tigers nailed down a heart‑stopping 42‑41 victory.

Massillon finishes the regular season with a 9‑1 record, while McKinley falls to 8‑2.

Both teams will qualify for the Division I playoffs. Pairings will be announced Sunday and the two schools will probably not meet in the first round next weekend.

Today’s game was one in which neither team seemed capable of stopping the other’s offense. In fact, the 83 total points scored is an all‑time re­cord in the series that began in 1894.

McKinley forced overtime when it scored on a seven‑yard Josh McDaniels to Shakeer Abdullah pass with less than two minutes to play. McDa­niels’ extra‑point kick made it a 35‑35 contest.

Pre-game vs. Canton McKinley 100th game

After a low snap foiled McDa­niels’ 50‑yard field goal attempt as time expired, the teams headed to overtime.

Massillon won the toss and de­ferred, giving the Bulldogs the first chance in overtime.

Adrian Brown secured a first down just inside the 10 on the first snap of OT. Four plays la­ter, on fourth and goal from the one‑yard line, fullback Kinta Mitchell went in standing up to make it 41‑35. McDaniels quick­ly changed shoes for what was another in what had been a string of routine conversion kicks all afternoon. But he sliced the kick to the right, mis­sing it.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 100th Game

crowd, which numbered 19,125, seemed to sense this was the opening the Tigers needed.

On second down, quarterback Willie Spencer Jr. ran the op­tion around his right end. He appeared to have made up his mind to keep the football and was being dragged down at the 15 when he pitched to split end Victor Redrick, who was trail­ing the play. Redrick took the ball in stride and sprinted down the sideline and into the end zone to knot the game at 41‑41.

Then, with all the pressure of the rivalry’s 99 previous games riding on his shoulders, Nick Pribich calmly split the uprights with his conversion kick and the Tigers went wild.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 100th Game

On the sidelines, McKinley’s Josh McDaniels kneeled with his head bowed in defeat, being consoled by his father, Pups head coach Thom McDaniels.

Spencer and Tigers assistant coach Steve Studer sprinted to the East stands and began ring­ing a victory bell.

The contest was highlighted by both teams’ refusal to quit – like two great heavyweights, exchanging knockdown pun­ches and getting up for more.

McKinley opened the scoring with 11:30 to play in the second quarter. Mitchell capped a six­ play, 80‑yard drive with a seven‑yard TD run up the mid­dle to make it 7‑0 Pups.

Massillon counter‑punched with a 12‑play, 80‑yard march. Spencer kept the football on the option and cut off his right tack­le for a three‑yard touchdown to tie the game at 7‑7 with 6:20 un­til halftime.

Game action vs. Canton McKinley 100th Game

The Tigers got a break when McKinley fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Steve Griffith reco­vered at the Bulldogs’ 25. It took seven plays, but Leon Ashcraft ran through a big hole over left guard and into the end zone to make it 14‑7 with 2:18 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs executed the two‑minute drill to perfection, moving 65 yards in 10 plays with Mitchell doing the honors from the one‑yard line with just 18 seconds remaining until the band show. McDaniels’ PAT made it 14‑14 at the half.

The quick‑strike Tiger offense untied the score less than 40 seconds into the third quarter. On the second snap of the half, Ashcraft took a hand­off, pitched it back to Spencer, who lofted a bomb to Redrick, The senior sprinter ran under the pass at the 23, broke a diving tackle, then cruised in to the end zone to make it a 21‑14 Massillon advantage.

Once again the Bulldogs answered, moving 82 yards in just eight plays. Adrian Brown ran the ball on the final four snaps of the march, bucking into the end zone from the 2 to tie it 21‑21 with 8:08 left in the third.

But Massillon would not be discouraged.

The Tigers, with Spencer often changing plays at the line of scrimmage, moved 68 yards in seven plays to regain the lead. Spencer hit Vaughn Mohler, who scooped the ball off the turf in the end zone for a seven‑yard TD catch, making it 28‑21 Tigers.

McKinley then mounted the longest drive of the game, going 80 yards in 15 plays. Mitchell again found the end zone from a yard away and it was 28‑28 with 8:13 left in regulation.

Back came the Tigers with another 80‑yard drive.

Ashcraft, who rushed for 109 yards on the afternoon, scored on a draw play from 20 yards out with four minutes left to make it Massillon 35, McKinley 28.

By this time, everyone in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium realized they were witnessing a classic game. Nobody believed the Bulldogs were done, and they were not.

McDaniels marshalled another drive, this one covering 68 yards in seven plays. The senior signal‑caller hit Abdul­lah in the left side of the end zone after a brilliant play fake. The seven‑yard TD toss accounted for the end‑of-­regulation score of 35‑35.

Then came overtime, a mis­sed extra point and the Tigers pulse‑stopping victory.

MASSILLON 42
MCKINLEY 41
M McK
First downs rushing 14 15
First downs passing 3 8
First downs penalty 1 2
Total first downs 18 25
Net yards rushing 245 233
Net yards passing 103 148
Total yards gained 348 381
Passes attempted 13 20
Passes completed 6 14
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked Off 6 6
Kickoff average 42.3 55.1
Kickoff return yards 65 52
Punts 2 1
Punting average 26.5 35.0
Punt return yards -4 0
Fumbles 0 4
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 4 5
Yards penalized 47 25
umber of plays 51 65
Time Of Possession 23:23 24:37
Attendance 19,125

MCKINLEY 00 14 07 14 06 41
MASSILLON 00 14 14 07 07 42

Fleaflicker is big play for Tigers

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent sports editor

In a football game like to­day’s contest between the Mas­sillon Tigers and McKinley Bulldogs, selecting one big play is all but impossible.

But the most memorable for many was the Tigers’ flea flick­er that went for a 62‑yard touch­down at the onset of the third quarter.

In addition to the significance on the scoreboard ‑ the bomb gave the Tigers a 21‑14 lead ‑ the play showed Jack Rose was going to attack the Bulldogs in the second half.

Rose sent a message to his players, to the fans and – most importantly – to the Bulldogs. He let them know Massillon was going to go out and get the victory the old-fashioned way – earn it.

With the game tied at 14, Massillon accepted the second half kickoff, and Nate Lewis returned the ball to the 29, for 19 yards.

On first down, Willie Spencer rolled left and hit Devon Wil­liams for eight yards.

On second‑and‑two, Spencer handed the ball to Ashcraft on what appeared to be a simple dive play into the middle of the line. But Ashcraft took just one step, turned and pitched the ball back to Spencer. He looked long and there was Victor Redrick in full stride on a post pattern.

The pass was there, Redrick made the catch and 25 yards la­ter, the Tigers had assumed a 21‑14 lead.

In doing so, they set the tone for the second half, one of the best shootouts in the history of high school football.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 31, Akron St. Vincent St. Mary 15

Bombs away!
Tigers go to the air to eliminate Irish
Big plays do in the Irish

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

The last time the Irish of Akron St. Vincent‑St. Mary’s vi­sited Massillon for a Week 9 football game, it was more trick than treat for the Tigers as the Summit County entry took home a 28‑25 upset victory back in 1991.

Program Cover

The Tigers took the field Fri­day night determined to learn from history. Despite the dis­traction of the historic 100th meeting with the McKinley Bulldogs looming just a week away, the orange‑and‑black tended to the task at hand and secured a 31‑15 victory at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Massillon, just a week re­moved from a lethargic first half performance at Alliance, came out with both guns blazing on this night. On their very first snap, the Tigers made a state­ment by going for a long bomb. Willie Spencer Jr.’s pass for De­von Williams barely missed connecting, but it drew an ovation from the partisans and put a smile on Spencer’s face.

Tigers coach Jack Rose noted the St. Vincent‑St. Mary’s de­fense almost dared the offense. to throw deep.

“We figured we were going to have to put it up because they put eight or nine guys up on the line,” Rose said. “We threw the deep ball early to try to get them off of us.”

“We were trying to open the game up because their corners were playing right up on the line,” explained Williams. “We showed them early we could beat them with our quickness.”

The first down misfire did not frustrate the Tigers. On second down, Leon Ashcraft picked up 14 yards on a draw play to the Tiger 27. Spencer ran the boot­leg around left end for 17 more on the next play. Two plays la­ter, Spencer found Vaughn Mohler along the right sidelines for 16 yards to the Irish 22 and the Tigers were cooking.

Spencer executed the option to perfection on the next play, pitching the ball to Ashcraft at the last moment as the pair went around left end. Ashcraft, who finished the night with 138 yards on 17 carries, sailed down the left sideline and into the St. Vincent‑St. Mary’s end zone. Nick Pribich added the conver­sion kick and Massillon led 7‑0 at 6:25 of the first period.

The opening drive was in stark contrast to the way things began for the locals a week ago at Alliance.

“We weren’t very good last week,” noted Rose. “We were flat. Every team hits that. That was our (flat) game last week. But that fiasco helped us focus this week‑”

The Tigers struck like light­ning early in the second quarter after an Irish punt to the Massil­lon 45. On second‑and‑10, Spencer found Ashcraft run­ning free along the left sideline and dropped a perfectly thrown pass in his lap. Ashcraft caught the ball near the Irish 30, cut back to the middle of the field at the 15 and was taken down on a shoestring tackle at the 2‑yard line.

On third‑and‑goal, from the one‑yard line, Spencer followed Eddie Evans and Tim Men­denhall into the end zone for a 13‑0 Tigers advantage.

St. Vincent‑St. Mary’s brought a little lightning of its own and pulled it out on its next possession. On first‑and‑10 from their own 33, quarterback Bob Butash executed the play fake and found Joe Gilbride open on a deep post pattern. Butash hit Gilbride at the Mas­sillon 30 and he was off to the races for a 67‑yard touchdown strike to make it a 13‑7 contest at 8:19 of the second quarter.

The Tigers added a field goal late in the first half, marching from their 10 to the Irish 7. Ashcraft’s 23‑yard run on the first play of the drive and Spencer’s 29‑yard scamper on an option keeper one play later keyed the drive. Pribich drilled a 24‑yard field goal with :19 to play in the half to give Massillon a 16‑7 lead at the break.

The third quarter was un­eventful with the exception of a 49‑yard burst by Ashcraft that moved the ball from the Massil­lon 13 to the Irish 38. That drive stalled on downs at the St, V‑St. M 19.

Early in the fourth quarter, Irish defensive back Tony Pierce intercepted the Tigers near midfield but fumbled the ball back to Massillon.

Two plays later, Spencer found Williams on a deep post pattern and the sophomore would not be caught, notching a 48‑yard touchdown catch and run with 11:05 to play.

Tigers holder Mark Hiegl kept the ball on a fake conver­sion kick, sweeping around right end for the two‑point con­version and a 24‑7 lead.

“That was the big one,” sighed Irish coach John Cistone of the double turnover. “It turned it around. You’re still in the game and you think you’re going to have good field posi­tion, then boom. Then they get the big touchdown. That knocks you down, especially when you’re young. It makes it tough to come back.”

“I was just trying to get a good fake so they would bite on the run,” said Spencer of the touchdown bomb. “I watched Devon all the way. I just threw it up there and I got hit hard. But, the line gave me great pro­tection tonight.”

“Willie took a big hit on that touchdown pass,” observed Rose. “I was really proud of the way he stood in there. He took a hit on his blind side on that play. But he stood in there and stood in there and delivered a beauti­ful ball, You can’t make a much better pass than that. Devon kept running and caught up with it and made the great catch.”

The Tigers, 8‑1 going into next week’s showdown with the Bull­dogs, wrapped it up with a 10‑play, 62-yard drive, capped by Jeremy Fraelich’s six‑yard burst up the middle and into the end zone. Pribich’s boot made it 31‑7.

The Irish scored on an 18‑yard touchdown pass with eight seconds to play, as both teams had their reserves on the field.

MASSILLON 31
ST. VINCENT 15
M V
First downs rushing 11 9
First downs passing 5 4
First downs penalty 0 0
Total first downs 16 13
Net yards rushing 255 126
Net yards passing 169 116
Total yards gained 424 242
Passes attempted 18 15
Passes completed 7 6
Passes int. 1 0
Times kicked off 6 3
Kickoff average 47.0 37.0
Kickoff return yards 89 100
Punts 2 7
Punting average 33.5 33.0
Punt return yards 1 0
Fumbles 0 2
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 0 3
Yards penalized 0 16
Number of plays 60 47
Time of possession 24:17 23:43

ST. VINCENT 0 7 0 8 15
MASSILLON 7 9 0 15 31

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter.
M ‑ Ashcraft 26 run (Pribich kick)

Second Quarter
M ‑ Spencer 1 run (kick failed)
St. V ‑ Gilbride 67 pass from Butash (Hlivko kick)
M ‑ Pribich 24 FG

Fourth Quarter
M ‑ Williams 58 pass from Spencer (Hiegl run)
M ‑ Fraelich 6 run (Pribich kick)
St. V ‑ Hlivko 18 pass from Whitney (Knott pass from Whitney)

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Ashcraft 17‑138;
Spencer 11‑61, 2 TDs;
Lewis 7‑32;
Fraelich 4-­22, 1 TD;
Turner 1‑4;
Hiegl 1 ‑(minus‑2).
St. Vin­cent ‑ Knott 16‑82, Lazar 4‑36, Whitney 3‑21, LaCause 6‑9, Butash 3‑(minus‑22).

Passing:
Masillon
Spencer 7‑18‑169‑1, 1 TD.
St. Vincent
Butash 5‑10‑98, 1 TD;
Whit­ney 1‑5, 18, 1 TD.

Receiving:
Massillon
Ashcraft 3‑78;
Mohler 3‑33;
Williams 1‑58, 1 TD.
St. Vincent
Shenigo 1‑25;
Gilbride 1‑67, 1 TD;
Hlivko 1‑18, 1 TD;
Knott 1‑3;
LaCause 1‑3.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 20, Alliance 0

Aviators Grounded!
Tigers have too much for Alliance

By MARK LAUTZENHEISER
Independent Sports Writer

For 24 minutes, the Alliance Aviators were living up to the nickname “Black Swarm.” But the “Swarm” went south in the second half and Massillon turned a 7‑0 halftime lead into a lackluster 20‑0 win in front of a near capacity crowd at Mount Union Stadium, Friday.

Program Cover

After a sluggish first half, the Tigers got a shot in the arm on the second‑half kickoff. Massil­lon’s Nick Pribich lofted the kick down the left sidelines. Alliance Louis Banks rushed over, but his momentum car­ried him out of bounds leaving the ball on the ground at the 22. Massillon’s Matt Helm fell on the loose pigskin and the Tigers were in business.

Three plays later, Leon Ashcraft followed the over­powering blocking of the left side of the line and scooted into the end zone from 10 yards out to give Massillon a 14‑0 lead with 10:57 left in the third. It was academic from there on out.

“We had a lot of mental errors tonight. We just weren’t sharp,” Tiger head coach Jack Rose said. “Last week we play­ed real well, but this week we took a step back. We were play­ing a team that was 1‑6 and could have been 4‑3. They don’t play like a 1‑7 team.”

Aside from the Alliance mis­cue on the second half kick, things didn’t come easy for the Tigers.

Out of the gate, Nate Lewis returned the opening kickoff 39 yards to the Aviator 46. From there, Ashcraft powered over a couple Aviator tacklers for 14 yards. Quarterback Willie Spencer Jr., followed with a 12 ­yard gain on the option around left end to give the Tigers a first down at the 20.

But, Massillon pulled out the gun and instead of shooting down the Flyers, shot them­selves in the foot. A fumble in the backfield, a sack and a four ­yard gain on fourth‑and‑20 gave the ball to Alliance at its own 26.

The defensive stand seemed to ignite the Aviators and espe­cially senior fullback George Cameron. The 6‑foot-1, 220-­pounder rushed six times for 37 yards in carrying his team to the Tiger 13.

From there, the Tigers’ de­fense did exactly as its oppo­nents’ had, and stuffed the Aviators. Defensive tackle Don­nie Young nailed Cameron for a yard loss on first down and Courtney Herring forced an Alliance back out of bounds three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Following an in­complete pass, Alliance’s Ma­rious Rasinar missed a 33‑yard field goal wide right.

The Tigers, taking over at the 15, started slow. However, on ­third‑and‑12, Ashcraft skated around right end on a misdirection play for 38 yards to the Alliance 47. After two short gains, Spencer executed a pic­ture‑perfect option play to the left sideline and 46 yards later the Tigers led 7‑0.

Spencer sprinted left, drew­ the defender, faked the pitch, cut it up and rest was sheer speed to the goal line.

“It was very important to score first,” Rose said. “They were playing with a lot of in­tensity and we weren’t.

“Willie is so strong. He just shook a tackle … then he’s got the speed. He can be devastat­ing on the perimeter.”

Alliance did make some noise on its final possession of the first half. After moving the ball 48 yards to the Massillon 19, Rasinar saw his 35‑yard field goal try fail. This time he was well short.

In the first half alone, Massil­lon tallied 118 yards rushing, but 84 of those came on two plays. Alliance ate up 14:19 and managed to out gain their visi­tors 144‑132 in total yards. Cameron was the main man with 74 yards on 13 carries.

From this point, it was all Massillon. The Aviators’ first turnover led to Ashcraft’s 10 ­yard score. Following the en­suing kick, the Tiger defense held the Aviators on three plays and forced a punt. The snap sailed over the punter’s head and he was barely able to get the kick away. Massillon took over on the Alliance 43.

Two Aviator penalties ignited this Tiger drive. Massillon was faced with a third‑and‑11 at the 33. Spencer rolled left and threw incomplete, but he was hit out of bounds and Alliance was hit with a 15‑yard penalty.

On a later third down, Ashcraft appeared to be stuffed just inside the 10, but an Alliance defender grabbed Ashcraft’s facemask and the Ti­gers had a first down at the five.

Spencer took the next snap, faked the off‑tackle play to Ashcraft and beat an Alliance defensive back to the corner of the end zone for the score. The point‑after was no good and the Tigers were in control of their seventh win of the season.

“If you would have told me after the first scrimmage we were going to be 7‑1 at this point. I would have laughed,” Rose said. “This is the most im­proved football team I have been around. It is the opposite of last year. This team is going in the right direction and is getting better as we go along.”

MASSILLON 20
ALLIANCE 0
M A
First downs rushing 10 12
First downs passing 1 2
First downs penalty 2 1
Total first downs 13 15
Net yards rushing 197 144
Net yards passing 14 42
Total yards gained 211 186
Passes attempted 4 115
Passes completed 2 7
Passes int. 0 2
Times kicked off 4 1
Kickoff average 48.0 51.0
Kickoff return yards 45 63
Punts 3 3
Punting average 25.7 30.0
Punt return yards 4 0
Fumbles 3 3
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties x x
Yards penalized 61 32
Number of plays 44 50
Time of possession 23.22 24.38

ALLIANCE 0 0 0 0 0
MASSILLON 0 7 13 0 20

SCORING SUMMARY

Second quarter
M ‑ Spencer 46 run (Pribich kick)

Third quarter
M ‑ Ashcraft 10 run (Pribich kick)
M ‑ Spencer 5 run (kick failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING:
Massillon
Ashcraft 19‑98,
Spencer 7-509,
Lewis 8‑35,
Fraelich 2‑3,
Hiegl 2‑1,
Monler 1‑7,
Turner 1‑3;
Alliance
Cameron 20‑96;
D. Jones 7‑32.

PASSING:
Massillon
Spencer 2‑4‑0 14;
Alliance
Jones 7‑14‑2 42

RECEIVING:
Massillon
Williams 1‑10,
Ashcraft 1‑4;
Alliance
D. Jones, 2‑11,
Banks 1‑7,
R. Jones 1‑6,
Hovanec 1‑5.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 21, Cuyahoga Falls 11

Falls felled! Tigers deal Cuyahoga squad first loss
Spencer sparks Tigers past Falls

By JOE SNAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

If anyone wondered about Willie Spencer’s attitude coming off last week’s one-game suspension for practice viola­tions, their questions were answered early and often in the Massillon Tigers’ 21‑11 defeat of the previously unbeaten Cuyahoga Falls Black Tigers, Friday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Spencer had a hand in all three of Massillon’s touch­downs as the Tigers had the game salted away before the band show with a 21‑3 halftime advantage.

“Willie was terrific,” gushed Tigers coach Jack Rose. “I made him unterrific in the second half. We threw the interception and I got too con­servative. That’s my fault.

“But Willie was focused all week. When he is in tune, he is hard to beat. Really, the whole team was well‑focused. They were ready.”

The senior signal caller, forced to sit out last week’s vic­tory over Barberton, asserted himself on the Tigers’ first drive of the evening. He earned Massillon’s first first down of the night on an option keeper around left end, then hit Bren­nan Rohr with a 25‑yard pass for another first down at the Falls’ 45.

After a holding call against the Black Tigers, Spencer fol­lowed guard Kevin Bouder on an option‑keeper around left end, cut back at the 30 and sprinted untouched into the end zone. Nick Pribich’s kick made it 7‑3 Massillon with 2:16 left in the first period.

The Tiger defense got the ball back when linebacker Courtney Herring shot a gap in the Falls line on third‑and‑eight, dump­ing Black Tigers’ tailback Kevin Hyatt for a three‑yard loss, forcing a punt.

Again Spencer showed the 13,796 in attendance that he’d put the past behind him and had come to play. He hit Steve Grif­fith with a 13‑yard dart for a first down at the Massillon 44. Jeremy Fraelich picked up 11 yards off left guard to the Falls’ 45, then Leon Ashcraft got it rolling with a 10‑yard spurt on the draw play to the 37.

Two plays later Vinny Turner gained 16 yards off left tackle and the Tigers were driving at the Falls 15. Once again Spencer called his own number, keeping the ball on the option around left end. The Massillon line executed to perfection and Spencer’s quickness enabled him to dance into the end zone. Pribich converted and it was 14­3 Tigers with 5:13 until halftime.

“If we’d have played the op­tion in the first half the way we did the second half, maybe we’d have shut Spenser down,” said Falls coach Don Ross.” He’s too good of an athlete to have breakdowns. He is just a great athlete. He cracks a seam where we were supposed to have someone and the result was a touchdown.”

‘The Massillon defense forced and recovered a Falls fumble near midfield to give Spencer and company one more shot with about a minute until the break.

Spencer, sensing the kill, went up top on first down. Soph­omore speedster Devon Wil­liams got a step on the secon­dary but the ball was under­ thrown. Both Falls defenders appeared to tip the football, but Williams kept his concentration and came down with it for a 52­ yard touchdown bomb. Pri­bich’s boot made it 21‑3 at half.

“Every coach teaches their kids to bat that ball down,” Ross observed. “Maybe they mistimed their jumps. We had two kids there.

“But that score puts us in a hell of a position because you take seven off the board, they’re playing a little tighter and who knows what happens in the second half.”

Spencer never saw Williams catch the ball.

“I saw it get tipped and thought it was incomplete,” he said. “Then I saw the ref put his hands up to signal a touch­down.”

Spencer’s first half statistics: 57 yards rushing and two touch­downs in five carries; 86 yards and one touchdown on 3‑for‑4 passing.

So much for any pregame concerns.

“I was trying to prove to ev­erybody what I was about,”, Spencer said. “I haven’t done much this year passing wise, so I wanted to come out and estab­lish that part of my game.”

The second half was rather rough from the Massillon stand­point, although the final score smoothed things over. The Ti­gers threw an interception on their first possession, then got conservative on offense and went three‑and‑out on their next two series of downs.

“I told them we were going to go out and get after it in the second half,” Rose lamented. “I said you have to be greedy and take it from them, when you play football. Then I don’t listen to myself. I learned a lesson tonight. We all learned one.”

The Tigers defense did its job however, stopping the Black Ti­gers’ first two drives of the second half. Cuyahoga Falls finally made things interesting by marching 53 yards in nine plays. Hyatt covered the final 18 on a simple dive play up the middle. The point‑after made it a 21‑11 game with the entire fourth quarter left to play.

The Tigers kept the ball for six plays to start the fourth, but turned it over on an interception at the Falls’ 25‑yard line with 9:50 to go. The Black Tigers got a heady performance from quarterback Bill Brandt, who completed four passes for first downs to march the offense to the Massillon 14.

Lavell Weaver helped stem the tide by sacking Brandt for a six‑yard loss, then an intention­al grounding penalty wiped out any chance for the Black Tigers to put up a final touchdown.

“We made some big plays offensively and that’s what it takes,” Rose said. “The de­fense bent a little bit, but they made a good adjustment and played much better after that first drive.

MASSILLON 21
FALLS 11
M F
First downs rushing 10 9
First downs passing 4 10
First downs penalty 1 0
Total first downs 15 19
Net yards rushing 190 123
Net yards passing 96 169
Total yards gained 286 292
Passes attempted 9 32
Passes completed 4 13
Passes int. 2 0
Times kicked off 4 3
Kickoff average 42 40
Kickoff return yards 14 35
Punts 2 2
Punting average 36.5 39.5
Punt return yards 0 ‑2
Fumbles 0 3
Fumbles lost 0 1
Penalties 2 3
Yards penalized 15 38
Number of plays 42 68
Time of possession 19.55 28.05
Attendance 13,796

FALLS 3 0 8 0 11
MASSILLON 7 14 0 0 21

SCORING SUMMARY

First quarter
F ‑ Worthington 37 yard kick
M ‑ Spencer 35 yard run (Pribich kick)

Second quarter
M ‑ Spencer 13 yard run (Pribich kick)
M ‑ Williams 49 yard pass from Spencer (Pribich kick)

Third quarter
F ‑ Hyatt 18 yard run (Brandt conversion)

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Ashcraft 21‑105,
Spencer 8‑58, 2 TDs.
Falls
Hyatt 21‑94, 1 TD.
Passing:
Massillon
Spencer 4‑9‑96, 1 TD.
Falls
Brandt 13‑32‑169.

Receiving:
Massillon
Williams 2‑59, 1 TD,
Rohr 1‑25.
Falls
Steiner 5‑64,
Hyatt 2‑39,
Marino 2‑39.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 15, Barberton 0

Tigers ‘D’eny Magics’ upset bid
Defense key to 15-0 win

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

When the offense isn’t clicking, good teams rely on their de­fense to pull them through.

So it was for the Massillon Ti­gers, 15-0 winners over the Bar­berton Magics Friday night in front of 10,034 at Paul Brown Ti­ger Stadium.

Program Cover

With starting quarterback Willie Spencer Jr., and starting right tackle Aric Simpson sus­pended for practice violations, the Tiger offense sputtered and stalled for most of the first half. But the defense refused to budge, yielding just 43 net yards to the Barberton offense.

They did it by blitzing Barber­ton quarterback Matt Jenson mercilessly all night, pounding the 6‑2, 185‑pound senior on vir­tually every pass play.

In the first half alone, Steve Griffith recorded three sacks from his CAT safety position. The last of the three forced Jen­son to fumble, effectively stall­ing Barberton’s two‑minute offense, which appeared to be on a roll near midfield with :54 until intermission.

Senior defensive tackle Mark Wells had a pair of quarterback sacks in the first half, including one on the first play of the game, sending a message to Jenson that he would not be able to sit in the pocket and count the house all night long.

Wells also made a huge play on Barberton’s first possession of the second half. The Magics had driven from their 46 to the Massillon 25, but were facing a third‑and‑six situation. Jenson tried to execute the triple op­tion, but Wells shot a gap and pulled him down before he could get started, for a three‑yard loss.

Barberton missed a 45‑yard field goal attempt on the very next snap.

That’s when the Tigers offense finally got untracked. Mark Hiegl, who stepped in at quarterback, marshalled a drive that began on the Massil­lon 20. Leon Ashcraft picked up 16 yards and a first down on a pitch around left end. Hiegl snuck for three yards to earn another first down near mid­field. Ashcraft found a seam over left tackle to record the third first down of the drive at the 37.

Then, on second‑and‑long, Hiegl rolled right to pass under intense pressure from the Magics. He managed to get the ball off just before he was drag­ged down, avoiding a huge loss.

On the next snap, Hiegl again rolled right, then turned and found tight end Ryan Shanor with a throwback screen pass on the left. Shanor avoided one tackler and raced down the sideline for a 41‑yard touch­down. Nick Pribich’s kick made it Massillon 7, Barberton 0 as time expired in the third quarter.

“The way they were coming so hard off the back side, we felt if we could get (the screen pass) in there at the right time, it would work,” said Tigers head coach Jack Rose. “We were just going for the first down. They were in a man‑to‑man. We got a good block out there and Ryan was able to go down the sideline for a touchdown.

“Mark made a heady play by avoiding the sack on second down. He is the kind of kid who can beat you from the head up.”

Barberton head coach Ed Robinson praised Rose’s play call.

“We were bringing the house and we had man (coverage) on and the guy who was in man coverage missed the tackle,” Robinson said. “When you do that you’re in trouble. They got a nice block out of their tackle and it was a nice play call for the situation. What are you going to do? That’s the one breakdown defensively we had all night long.”

On Barberton’s first play after the ensuing kickoff, Griffith came up with another monster play. The 5‑8, 150-pound senior plastered Jenson on the safety blitz, forcing him to fumble the football. Matt Robinson scooped up the pigskin in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 13‑0 with 10:52 to play.

“I had a lot of clean shots at the quarterback,” Griffith confirmer. “I was just waiting for this game because I knew I could get him in that shotgun. Coach had the calls perfect. Our line did a good job getting up­field and I just went in there and took it to him.”

Griffith indicated the defen­sive game plan was simple.

“We were running our regu­lar coverage,” he explained, “but when they went to the shot­gun, we checked to the blitz and it caused a lot of disruption.”

“We got after (Jenson) pretty good,” Rose said. “He hung in there pretty well. He has a lot of courage. But you can only take so much of that. Sooner or later you get a turnover.”

Wells put the final points on the scoreboard for the Tigers, tackling tailback Bryan Wat­kins in the end zone for a safety with 3:29 to play. The score was set up, appropriately enough, by Robinson’s sack of Jenson on the seven‑yard line on the pre­ceeding play.

“Coach Wells told me to try to put some pressure on (Jenson) so we could take him out of the game early,” Wells said.

“We had rhythm going after beating Fitch. But with every­thing that happened this week, we felt we had to unite on de­fense to pull us through.”

Massillon held Barberton to just 71 net yards of total offense for the evening. The Magics managed just .5 yards per rush on 31 running plays. They fum­bled three times and lost two.

Ashcraft, appearing to run even harder than usual, rushed for 111 yards in 17 carries. Vin­ny Turner and Nate Lewis com­bined for 104 yards rushing to keep the Magics from keying solely on Ashcraft.

“We had a lot of adversity this week coming off the big win last week,” summarized Rose. “A lot of things happened to keep the guys from being focused. I think we did a good job. We knew we had to do a great job on defense so Mark (Hiegl) had a chance to get his feet wet. I thought he got better as the game went on.”

The Tigers will host Cuyaho­ga Falls next Friday. Falls re­mained undefeated with a 37‑7 Metro League victory over Ravenna.

MASSILLON 15
BARBERTON 0
M B
First downs rushing 10 4
First downs passing 1 3
First downs penalty 0 1
Total first downs 11 8
Net yards rushing 194 16
Net yards passing 50 55
Total yards gained 244 71
Passes attempted 8 11
Passes completed 3 6
Passes int. 1 0
Times kicked off 3 1
Kickoff average 55.7 56.0
Kickoff return yards 3 68
Punts 3 4
Punting average 30.0 36.8
Punt return yards 23 0
Fumbles 1 3
Fumbles lost 0 2
Penalties 4 5
Yards penalized 38 31
Number of plays 47 43
Time of possession 25.19 22.41
Attendance 10,034

MASSILLON 0 0 7 8 15
BARBERTON 0 0 0 0 0

THIRD QUARTER
M ‑ Shanor 41 pass from Hiegl (Pribich kick)

FOURTH QUARTER
M ‑ Robinson fumble recovery (kick failed)
M ‑ Wells safety tackle of Watkins

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Ashcraft 7‑60,
Turner 4‑55;
Barberton
Hanlin 6‑30,
Lamb 3‑17.

Passing:
Massillon
Hiegl 2‑6‑9;
Barberton
Jenson 1‑6‑10.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 10, Austintown Fitch 7

Pribich boots the Fitch ‘jinx’
Spencer’s long TD is key to win

By MARK LAUTZENHEISER
Independent Sportswriter

It’s amazing what one play and a little momentum can do for a football team.

The play?

Massillon quarterback Willie Spencer’s 86‑yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Thus, the momentum.

The result?

A Nick Pribich 40‑yard field goal with 2:58 remaining in the game to give the Tigers a 10‑7 win over Austintown Fitch at Falcon Stadium on Friday.

“This is a great win. This puts us over the hump,” a tearful Spencer said as he made his way toward the locker room. “We beat a great team. It is ex­actly what we needed.”

The win ends the Tigers’ los­ing streak at Falcon Stadium ‑ Massillon had been dealt four losses in four tries ‑ but it didn’t come without some an­xious moments in the game’s final three minutes.

Pribich’s go‑ahead kick appeared to take the wind out of Fitch’s sails. The Falcons were down … but they weren’t out.

Starting from its own 11 after a mishandled kickoff, Fitch struck quickly.

On the first play from scrimmage, Falcon quarterback, Rich Marinelli found Jeff Hawkins down the middle for 53 yards, and a face mask, against Massillon put the ball on the Tiger 21.

The threat died two plays la­ter when Marinelli fumbled a snap and Massillon’s Brad Lambrou recovered, giving the Tigers the ball and ‑ it appeared ‑ the win.

Not so.

As the Tigers worked to run out the clock, Spencer swept left end and lost the handle, with Fitch recovering at the Massil­lon 11.

Fullback Mike Stanec bulled six yards to the five; Marinelli dove ahead to the 4; and, with no timeouts left, threw out of bounds on third down to stop the clock.

That left Falcon kicker Chris Calcagni facing a 21‑yard field goal to send the game into over­time.

Calcagni, who gave Fitch a 10‑7 win over Lakewood St. Ed­ward a week ago, couldn’t re­peat his heroics.

His kick sailed wide right, giving Massillon the win, an end to the Falcon Stadium jinx and a 4‑1 mark on the year.

“We called the keeper and we told Willie to just fall down instead of taking the hit,” Tiger coach Jack Rose said of the late miscue. “We were going to run one more play, then take a safe­ty. We figured there would be six or seven seconds left and we would win the darn thing 10‑9.

“Our defense made the big plays when it had to. It seemed like neither team wanted to win this one.”

“It was the greatest feeling ever. I just went numb,” Pribich said of his game‑winning boot. “When we got the ball back, coach told me to start loosening up and said that a field goal was going to win the game.”

Massillon’s clinching drive started on its own 43‑yard line after a Fitch punt.

On first down, Spencer hand­ed off to tailback Leon Ashcraft on a routine off‑tackle play. Ashcraft was stopped for no gain, but managed to pitch the ball back to Spencer, who gained 18 yards to the Fitch 39.

From there, Massillon moved to a first down at the 26, but the drive stalled three plays later at the 23.

On came Pribich, drilling his 40‑yarder to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

“Nick had been hitting con­sistent 30‑yarders in pregame, so we knew that if we could get it down around the 30 we had a shot,” Rose said. “We were trying to keep the ball on the left hash because he kicks better from there. That’s why we were running to the sideline.”

“Nobody stopped us, we stop­ped ourselves,” Fitch Head Coach Jack Kenney said. “We kept finding ways to win, but we kept stopping ourselves.”

In the days leading up to the contest, Rose stressed the strength of the Fitch defense. First‑half action proved him right, as the Tigers could man­age only 76 yards of total offense.

In that same span, the Falcons rolled up 224 yards and dominated on both sides of the ball, but managed only a 7‑0 halftime lead.

That score came on a 43‑yard touchdown strike from Marinelli to Mark Cruz.

Fitch continued to dominate in the third quarter, but failed to hit paydirt.

The fourth quarter was a different story, as the Tigers be­gan to roar. On the strength of play in the final period, Massil­lon wound up out gaining Fitch 176 yards to 157 yards over the final 24 minutes.

For the game, Spencer led the Tigers with 122 yards on the ground in 22 carries, while Ashcraft finished with 90 yards in 18 carries.

MASSILLON 10
FITCH 7
M F
First downs rushing 7 15
First downs passing 2 3
First downs penalty 0 1
Total first downs 9 19
Net yards rushing 218 260
Net yards passing 32 119
Total yards gained 250 379
Passes attempted 12 17
Passes completed 4 4
Passes int. 0 0
Times kicked off 3 2
Kickoff average 53.7 57.0
Kickoff return yards 27 39
Punts 6 5
Punting average 31.7 31.2
Punt return yards 8 22
Fumbles 2 2
Fumbles lost 1 1
Penalties 4 10
Yards penalized 39 96
Number of plays 49 66
Time of possession 20:40 27:20

FITCH 0 7 0 0 7
MASSILLON 0 0 0 10 10

SCORING SUMMARY

Second Quarter
F ‑ Cruz 43 pass from Marinelli (Calcagni kick)

Fourth Quarter
M ‑ Spencer 86 run (Pribich kick)
M ‑ Pribich 40 FG

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Spencer 15‑121, 1 TD;
Ashcraft 18‑90.
Fitch
Stanec 24‑147,
Evans 11‑51.

Passing:
Massillon
Spencer 4‑12‑32.
Fitch
Marinelli 4‑17‑119, 1 TD.

Receiving:
Massillon
Mohler 1‑20.
Fitch
Yargo 2‑23.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 21, Mansfield Senior 13

Tigers have to scrap to top Tygers

A much-improved Mansfield Senior squad pushes Massillon to the brink of defeat

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

If Mansfield Senior was to serve as the Massillon Tigers’ whipping boys after last week’s tough loss to Akron Garfield, someone forgot to tell the Ty­gers.

Program Cover

After turning the ball over to their hosts on an interception on the second snap of the ball game ‑ a turnover that led to the Ti­gers first touchdown ‑ Man­sfield turned things around and played an inspired four quar­ters, before falling 21‑13 at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, Friday.

The contest began as if it would be no contest. Brennan Rohr’s interception near mid­field gave Massillon superb field position before many fans had settled into their seats.

The Tigers moved the ball methodically, with quarter­back Willie Spencer doing most of the damage on keepers around the Mansfield flanks. The senior pitched to fullback Vinny Turner on an option play around left end for a three‑yard touchdown with less than four minutes gone in the game.

Nick Pribich’s kick made it 7‑0 and visions of a rout began to dance in the heads of the Tigers and the hometown partisans.

“We got the turnover, went right down and scored and I think we thought, ‘Here we go. We’re going to rack up another 50 on them,”‘ said Tigers coach Jack Rose. “That’s a maturity thing with this team. They have to understand they’re going to have to fight for everything they get. Hopefully they’ve learned that lesson.”

Certainly Mansfield did its best to get the message across. The Tygers, beginning their ensuing possession at the 20‑yard line, began controlling the line of scrimmage. Junior Michael Jackson and sophomore Kenyonnah Rife took turns run­ning the football and suddenly Mansfield was near midfield.

Then quarterback Deondre Jones hit tight end Clarence Jacocks for 25 yards to the Mas­sillon 28.

Six plays later, Jones kept the ball on a quarterback sneak to culminate the 13‑play drive with a one‑yard touchdown plunge. The conversion kick made it a 7‑7 game at 1:47 of the first quarter.

Neither team could get much going in the first half of the second period. A Massillon punt gave Mansfield possession at the Tyger 41 with 8:00 until the band show. Rife ran the ball on the first three plays, moving it to the Massillon 43.

On second‑and‑five, Jones called the triple option and kept the football around right end. The Tigers had the play smelled out, so Jones changed direction and found no one at home for Massillon on the left side. He ran free to the Tiger 10, where he cut inside a tackler and into the end zone and the visitors led 13‑7 with 6:34 to go in the second.

Massillon gave the ball right back to their guests on a fumble at the Tiger 42. But the home team defense bowed its neck and forced Mansfield to punt af­ter three snaps.

Then the Tigers found their groove, driving from their 18 to the Mansfield end zone in 11 plays. Leon Ashcraft accounted for 31 of those yards on a picture perfect draw play around right end. Spencer hit sophomore wideout Devon Williams for 20 yards along the left sideline for a key first down at the Man­sfield 18.

Spencer capped the drive with a sneak from the 1. Pri­bich’s boot made it 14‑13 Tigers at halftime.

Fumbles and illegal motion penalties plagued Mansfield throughout the second half. But Massillon was unable to take advantage, failing to get a first down until less than two mi­nutes remained in the third period.

Massillon put Mansfield away with a clutch scoring drive that began midway through the fourth quarter at the Tiger 29. On first down, Spencer kept the ball on a boot­leg around left end, picking up 14 yards. It was a sign of things to come.

“We began kicking the out­side linebacker out with the full­back and having the guard pull through so Willie could carry it through there,” Rose said.

Up until that point, Spencer seemed to hesitate on the pass-­run option, giving the Mansfield defense time to react.

“We told him to just run it,” Rose revealed. “We told him to pull it down and go. He really did a nice job reading the blocks and the guards got up in the hole and the fullback did a good job kicking out the end.”

After a pass interference call against Mansfield gave the Ti­gers a first down at the Tyger 40, Spencer took off on the boot­leg run again, picking up 20 yards around left end to the 20.

Ashcraft found a small hole over left guard for six yards and Spencer picked up seven more around right end to the seven yard line.

Three snaps later, Spencer scored his second TD of the night on a quarterback sneak. Pribich’s PAT with 4:11 to play concluded the scoring.

Mansfield made one more run at the Tigers, but Lavell Weav­er jarred the ball loose from Rife at the Massillon 40 and Heath Manson outfought the Tygers for the loose pigskin.

“we had some illegal motion penalties that hurt us,” said Mansfield coach Stan Jeffer­son, “but there were some other things that I felt were out of our control in terms of some things chat were called on us.

“I don’t care what anybody from around here says, we play­ed them tough all the way to the end. If we cover the one fumble, who knows.”

“The key was the drive right before half that put us ahead 14­-13,” observed Rose. “We had chances in the second half. We had one bust in the line of scrimmage that whole third quarter and that screwed our whole … we pretty much had them figured out as far as what we had to do. Then we made the adjustment on the boot run.

“That was a big win for us coming off of last week. The kids really spilled their guts out last week. Now we have to re­group and get ready for Fitch.”

Spencer had by far his biggest night of the season, rushing for 148 yards and two touchdowns in 21 carries. He also completed four passes for 36 yards.

Ashcraft was held under 100 yards for the first time in three weeks, but just varely. The senior tailback rushed for 98 yards in 21 carries, including that key 31‑yard scamper on the Tigers go‑ahead touchdown drive.

MASSILLON 21
MANSFIELD 13
M 0
First downs rushing 16 14
First downs passing 1 2
First downs penalty 2 0
Total first downs 19 16
Net yards rushing 263 264
Net yards passing 33 50
Total yards gained 296 304
Passes attempted 11 10
Passes completed 4 3
Passes int. 0 1
Times kicked off 4 3
Kickoff average 42.3 37.3
Kickoff return yards 44 47
Punts 4 4
Punting average 33.8 27.3
Punt return yards 1 7
Fumbles 1 5
Fumbles lost 1 2
Penalties 2 10
Yards penalized 18 60
Number of plays 60 54
Time of possession 23.36 24.24

MASSILLON 7 7 0 7 14­
MANSFIELD 7 6 0 0 13

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter
Mass. ‑ Turner 3 run (Pribich kick)
Mans. ‑ Jones 1 run (VanDine kick)

Second Quarter
Mans. ‑ Jones 38 run (kick failed)
Mass. ‑ Spencer 3 run (Pribich kick)

Fourth Quarter
Mass. ‑ Spencer 1 run (Pribich kick)

FINAL STATISTICS

Rushing:
Massillon
Spencer 21‑148, 2 TDs;
Ashcraft 21‑98;
Turner 5‑17, 1 TD;
Fraelich 2-0.
Mansfield
Rife 13‑90;
Jones 13‑77, 2 TDs;
Jackson 13‑57;
Bessick 5‑30.

Passing:
Massillon
Spencer 4‑11‑36.
Man­sfield
Jones 3‑10‑30, 0 To, 1 int.

Receiving:
Massillon
Williams 2‑25;
Griffith 1‑7;
Shanor 1‑1.
Mansfield
Jacocks 1‑25;
Grose 1‑12;
Jackson 1‑13.


Leon Ashcraft

Massillon Tigers Black Letter Logo History

1994: Massillon 6, Akron Garfield 21

Tiger lament: Missed opportunities
Massillon falls 21-6, but score not indicative of tilt

By JOE SHAHEEN
Independent Sports Editor

When your offense gets inside the “red zone” against the rug­ged Akron Garfield Golden Rams defense, it had better put some points on the scoreboard.

Program Cover

The Massillon Tigers learned that lesson the hard way, squandering two “golden” scoring opportunities in the first half and falling to the de­fending Akron City Series champions 21‑6 Friday night in front of 15,772 at muggy Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

The defeat drops Massillon to 2‑1 on the season with the Man­sfield Tygers scheduled to visit next Friday. Garfield improves to 2‑1.

The Tigers had all the better or it in the first half, but failed to put any points on the board. Garfield recharged its batteries at halftime and dominated play in the third and fourth quarters.

Massillon took the opening kickoff and marched to the Garfield 10 before stalling.

The drive was keyed by senior tailback Leon Ashcraft, who returned the kickoff 43 yards to the Rams 45‑yard line. Ashcraft found a hole over left guard and picked up 12 more on the second play of the drive to move the ball inside the 30.

On fourth‑and‑four, quarter­back Willie Spencer gave the drive life by hitting Ryan Sha­nor over the middle for a first down at the 16. Vinny Turner picked up three yards on first down and Spencer added three more on second down.

But Ashcraft was stuffed for no gain on third‑and‑four at the 10 and Garfield’s Antoine Win­field came up with an intercep­tion in the end zone on fourth down to end Massillon’s first threat.

“When you get backed up your own goal line,” said Garfield coach Bill McGee, “sometimes character comes through and our guys had char­acter tonight. I was real pleased we got solid and tough when we had to. Of course, you don’t have to defend as much ground, so it gets easier.”

Garfield’s next three posses­sions and the Tigers next two series ended in punts.

Brennan Rohr returned the Rams’ third punt of the evening from the Tiger 35 to near mid­field and Massillon would mount its second serious march of the night from that point.

Ashcraft got the orange‑and-­black started by picking up 11 yards on first down. Then, on second‑and‑nine from the Gar­field 40, the Massillon line opened up a hole over left guard and tackle, and Ashcraft burst 18 yards to the Rams’ 21.

Turner picked up eight more on first down, prompting Gar­field head coach Bill McGee to call for time out. It didn’t help much as Spencer rolled around right end for 10 yards to the three‑yard line two snaps later and it looked like the locals would draw first blood.

But with first‑and‑goal at the three, Massillon’s second opportunity to put up points went by the boards. Ashcraft was tackled for a loss of two on first down. Spencer lost four on a rollout on second down, then was sacked by Damon Turner for an 11‑yard loss on third down.

After a delay of game, Massil­lon faced a fourth‑and‑goal from the 26 and Spencer’s pass went out of the end zone for a Garfield touchback.

“Against a team the caliber of Garfield, you can’t miss those opportunities,” said a de­jected Jack Rose in the Tiger locker room. “That was a big series for them when we got it down there and didn’t get in right before the half. It kind of took the momentum away from us a little bit. If we had punched it in there, it would have been a different ballgame.

“Give Garfield a lot of credit. They really controlled the line of scrimmage down there. We just couldn’t block them.”

Despite failing to score in the first 24 minutes, Massillon had the better of things. The Tigers out gained Garfield 100‑to‑65, re­corded eight first downs to the Rams’ four, and owned a time of possession advantage of 14:26 to 9:34.

But the most important sta­tistic, the score, was still 0‑0 and Massillon’s inability to put up any points proved fatal.

“I was happy to be 0‑0 at half­time, especially the way we played offense in the first half,” McGee admitted. “I knew we wouldn’t play that way the en­tire game.”

Obviously, he was correct. The Rams opened the second half by driving from their 22 to the Tigers 38 in eight plays. But Spencer fell on a Garfield fum­ble on the 29 yard line to quell the incursion.

Again the Tigers marched, sparked by runs of 14 and 31 yards by Ashcraft, who finished the night with 142 yards on 19 carries. Massillon had first-­and‑10 at the Garfield 25, but failed to gain any yardage on the next three downs. On fourth-­and‑10, Damon Turner sacked Spencer for an 11‑yard loss.

On the ensuing series Gar­field moved from its 36 to the Massillon 47, where it was second‑and‑five. Desmond Bell took a handoff and attacked the middle of the Tiger line. He burst through a small seam as if he were launched by a rocket didn’t stop until he struck paydirt. The kick made it Garfield 7, Massillon 0 with 4:04 to play in the third.

Massillon coughed up the football at their 30‑yard line on its next possession and Garfield went for the kill. Winfield and Bell took turns blasting into the Massillon line. Then fullback Eric McKinstry took three handoffs in a row, diving in from the one on fourth‑and‑goal at 11:22 of the fourth quarter. The PAT made it 14‑0 Garfield.

Massillon came back with a 13‑play, 79‑yard march. Ashcraft had bursts of 19‑ and 14‑yards to move the ball to the Garfield 40. Spencer hit Rohr for 13 yards and then found Tur­ner for 10 more to the Rams’ 2. The senior quarterback culmin­ated the drive by scoring on a rollout around left end, making a superb cutback at the 3‑yard line to elude a final defender.

The Tigers tried for a two­ point conversion, but the pass was intercepted and it was a 14­-6 game at the 5:28 mark.

There was still time for the locals and the comeback looked possible when Garfield faced a second‑and‑20 at its 10‑yard line. But Winfield dashed the hometown hopes by slashing up the middle and dashing 73 yards before Courtney Herring drag­ged him down from behind all the way down to the Tiger 17‑yard line.

Six plays later, Alonzo Wal­lace kept the football on the op­tion play and swept around right end for the icing‑on‑the­-cake TD with just l:50 to play.

“I thought our defense did a great job,” Rose said. “They couldn’t have played any better. Take a couple of plays out of there and we really shut them down. That last run of Win­field’s for 72 yards … up until then we had him contained. But a great player makes great plays in big games, and he made a couple on offense and defense. ”


Leon Ashcraft