Chris Easterling The Independent Aug 25, 2017 10:48 PM
MASSILLON Things were going just fine for Massillon for a quarter in its season opener against Mentor at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers held the lead and were keeping the high-flying Cardinals out of the end zone.
Then, on Massillon’s second play of the second quarter, a tipped deep ball was intercepted by Mentor’s Billy Gorka – with Gorka lying on his back.
Almost like it was an omen, that play changed everything.
The Cardinals would score on their next seven possessions, turning a seven-point Tiger lead into a 49-14 Mentor opening-night rout.
“They played well,” a subdued Massillon coach Nate Moore said afterwards. “They’re really good offensively.”
After being held to just 40 yards on 11 first-quarter plays, which ended with Massillon in front 7-0, the Cardinals would gain 413 over 29 plays in the next two quarters alone. They would lead 42-14 after three quarters, then make it 49-14 three plays into the fourth quarters.
Mentor finished the game with 501 yards. Massillon, which had 96 yards in the first quarter, ended things with 249 total yards.
Of those 249 yards, 66 came on a touchdown pass from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutscher in the third quarter. That made it briefly 28-14.
“We just needed to settle in,” Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno said. “They were really geared up, and probably too much. I tried to crack a joke, but it didn’t work. After that, we were a really good football team.”
The ending was such a far cry from the beginning, especially for the Tigers.
Massillon couldn’t have scripted a better start to the football season. A three-and-out by the Tiger defense on the first Cardinals possession led to great starting field position, at the Mentor 42.
A bad snap on first down, though, was followed by a 23-yard pass from Aidan Longwell to Austin Kutscher. The very next play, Marcellus Blake raced virtually untouched for a 21-yard touchdown run to give Massillon a 7-0 lead 94 seconds into the season.
“It was a good start,” Moore said.
Blake, who finished with 10 yards on 47 carries, found himself in a featured role due to the absence of a pair of Tigers, Jamir Thomas and Louis Partridge. Both players did not play, according to Moore, due to internal matters he wouldn’t discuss further.
Compounding things, Blake left the game early in the third quarter with an injury on a punt coverage. His status for the Week 2 home game against GlenOak is unknown.
Mentor’s offense began to get going on the next two first-quarter drives, reaching Massillon’s 25 and 34, respectively. The first one, though, ended on a diving interception by Dyson Berry, while the second one was halted on a fourth-down incomplete pass in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.
Gorka’s interception may have been the play that stood out the most as the momentum-changer, but it wasn’t the only one. Massillon’s second possession reached the Mentor 16, but the Tigers fumbled the ball away on first down.
“Not punching it in for a second touchdown also hurt,” Moore said. “If we stick that in, we go up 14-0. Obviously, that puts us in a much better position.”
That’s when the Mentor offense, which had been tuning up in the first quarter, hit the gear for which it’s become known. Three second-quarter possessions led to three second-quarter touchdowns for the Cardinals, who took a 21-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Outside of a Tiger personal foul flag on the first play of the first second-quarter possession and a Massillon offsides flag on the sixth play of the third, the three drives were textbook displays of crisp offensive football. A combined 23 plays over those three drives: 15 rushing plays for 103 yards, while 7-of-8 for 59 yards passing for quarterback Tadas Tatarunas.
All three scores were rushing for Mentor: 3-yard game-tying run by Chris Edmond; a 12-yard Tatarunas scamper for a 14-7 lead; and a 1-yard Nick Saginario plunge for a 21-7 lead.
Edmond finished with 111 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run to make it 28-7 Mentor. Tatarunas rushed for 66 yards while completing 17-of-25 passes for 188 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns.
MENTOR Mentor’s running game against Massillon’s passing attack. Just like everyone would’ve thought it would have been entering Friday night’s opener.
That Cardinal running game – as well as too big a hole to crawl out of – proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome in a 57-31 loss to Mentor at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.
“We got started too late,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team trailed 36-7 with 9:28 left in the third quarter before cutting the deficit to as close as 12 in the fourth quarter. “That’s a really good football team. … We just took too long to get things going.”
Much of the attention around Mentor’s high-powered offense had centered around its passing game. Quarterback Tadas Tatarunas was coming off a sophomores season where threw for over 2,900 yards.
Gone from that offense was a 1,900-yard rusher in Alex Matthews. Apparently, no one told the Cardinals that was supposed to mean they couldn’t run the football. Mentor jumped out to a 13-7 lead just 2:05 into the season in large part because Matthews’ replacement, Isaiah Gullick, rushed for 113 yards on his first four carries. That included a 2-yard scoring run on the fourth play of the first drive of the season, and a 78-yard touchdown scamper on the second play of the second drive.
Gullick would finish with 238 yards on 21 carries. He added a pair of fourth quarter touchdown runs and a touchdown on a screen pass.
“I told you he was pretty good,” Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno said of Gullick. “… You’ve got to bide your time. He didn’t complain (waiting to play) and he worked hard.”
In between Mentor’s first two scores of the night was Massillon’s biggest first-half offensive highlight: a 73-yard touchdown pass from Seth Blankenship to Austin Jasinski on the Tigers’ first play. That, following Nate Gregg’s point-after kick, gave Massillon a 7-6 lead just 1:28 into the season.
That was the teaser to a spectacular night for Jasinski, who finished with 222 receiving yards and three scores on 15 catches. He also helped key Massillon’s rally from 36-7 down to within 36-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the third with two interceptions.
“If there’s a silver lining, Austin played an unbelievable game,” Moore said.
Just as big was the fact the Tiger offense gift-wrapped a pair of first-half Mentor scores. The first came directly when Will Laganke picked up a Massillon fumble and raced 65 yards for a touchdown and a 20-7 Cardinal lead with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter.
The second was more indirectly: Laganke’s interception on the second play of the second quarter brought the ball back to the Massillon 5. The Tiger defense was able to bow its back, but Mentor still ended up kicking a 22-yard field goal for a 23-7 lead with 9:50 left in the half.
“The turnovers hurt us,” Moore said.
That defensive effort was indicative of the way the Tigers were able to settle in after the initial two drives for much of a stretch between Mentor’s initial two drives and the fourth quarter.
Massillon, after giving up 140 yards on the first six Cardinal plays, limited them to just 66 on the next 17.
Tatarunas, the highly-touted junior, was held to just 2-of-10 passing for 16 yards in the first half. However, there is a caveat to all of that.
On its final first-half play, Mentor picked up 90 yards on a Logan Shea-to-Ryan Hagan scoring pass. Shea took a reverse handoff and hit the wide-open Hagan for a touchdown – on 3rd-and-15 – for a 29-7 lead with 1:14 remaining in the half.
Shea would then make it 36-7 with a 47-yard catch and run after Massillon missed a tackle. That helped Tatarunas finish with 137 yards on 5-of-16 passing.
MENTOR, OH — The Massillon Tigers boarded the buses to go to Mentor on Friday carrying a massive chip on their shoulders. They were a team disrespected, in their eyes, and they had ideas of rectifying the situation.
.Everyone picked us to lose, said senior receiver Justin Olack, after Massillon rallied for a 26-21 win over the Cardinals at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium. .Everybody expected us to lose. Even our fans expected us to lose, and that’s not right. Massillon fans should always expect us to win. We showed them tonight that we were going to win no matter what.
Olack’s 45-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter gave Massillon the lead for good at 20-14. He then threw a 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Tyler Miller on a gadget play for a 26-14 advantage.
For the Tigers, it was a message sent to the critics.
.They prejudged us, that’s what I told our kids,. said Tiger coach Jason Hall after his team improved to 3-1. .We don’t want to be prejudged. We’re Massillon. You better give us a 50-50 shot every time we step on the field. That’s probably what (ticked) us off tonight.
In taking out their frustration Friday night, Massillon dipped into the bag of tricks. Both Olack and Devin Smith threw touchdown passes on the night – Smith’s a 32-yarder to Montel Harrison in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 12-7 lead.
.We work it all the time in practice,. said Smith, who added 127 yards on eight catches. .They tell us to be ready just in case we get to run them in the game. It just worked perfectly. We executed it perfectly. You saw that me and J.O. can throw the ball.
Of course, the guy the Tigers were interested in seeing throw the ball on Friday night was sophomore Kyle Kempt, who made his first start of the season. Kempt handled himself well, completing 16-of-26 passes for 196 yards with a pair of touchdowns – one to Tyler Robinson in the first quarter and the one to Olack in the third quarter.
Kempt, the highly-touted transfer from Oregon, did throw an interception in the end zone in the third quarter. He was also sacked five times, but Hall said he expects his quarterback to get better.
.He made some good plays and he made some bad plays,. Hall said of Kempt. .We have to keep coaching up all our quarterbacks. I think we have to keep working on our consistency, keep looking at reads and we have to get better..
The Tigers have also improved their running game, as evidenced by their 119 yards on 30 carries, many of those draw plays which went for big gains by Jake Reiman. Reiman finished with 122 yards on 16 carries.
We were mixing it up enough to keep them off-balanced,. Hall said.
Mentor’s running game gave the Tigers plenty of headaches, especially over the first 24 minutes of the game. In the first half, quarterback Colton Wallace and Mike Korecz were able to hit the Massillon defense on some big plays, which helped the Cardinals take a 14-12 halftime lead.
Korecz rushed for 89 of his game-high 128 yards in the first half, scoring on a six-yard run in the second quarter before adding a 13-yard burst in the fourth quarter. Wallace, meanwhile, gained 52 of his 84 yards prior to halftime, and gave Mentor a 7-0 lead on its first possession with a 1-yard run.
The Cardinals rushed for 157 yards in the first half. They were held to 87 yards in the second half, when they found themselves faced with a number of second-and third-and-long situations they couldn’t overcome.
We did a good job of that,. said Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno, whose team is now 1-3. Then in the second half, every time we did it we got a holding call and it brought us back. All of a sudden, you’re way back out of the way..
Before the Massillon Tigers could turn their attention to their archrivals in Canton, they had to take care of the Mentor Cardinals. And Mentor made sure they had the Tigers’ attention for the full four quarters Friday night. Despite taking Mentor’s best shot, the Tigers cleared the tricky Week Nine hurdle, and head into McKinley Week on the heels of a 28-20 win over the Cardinals in front of 5,940 soaked fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“I think we learned our lesson with that earlier in the year, midseason,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “We have to come and prepare week-to-week with our schedule, especially the second half. Mentor is a great football team. … They fought and you have to take your hat off to (Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno) and his guys. When it was crunch time, we had to run the clock out to win the game.”
Massillon heads into the final week of the regular season with a 7-2 record. Awaiting them is a McKinley team that knocked off Boardman on Friday night to improve to 5-4.Mentor falls to 5-4 on the season.
With a slick turf, both teams stuck to the ground for much of the first quarter with varying degrees of success. Mentor, however, was able to make the most of its rather limited successes in the quarter, ending it with a 51-yard Greg Klisuric field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Breaking the scoreless deadlock was like opening a valve as both offenses came to life in the second quarter. Massillon scored on its first two possessions of the quarter and had a score on its third drive called back due to an illegal hands to the face penalty. The first – a 26-yard Robert Partridge-to-Devin Smith scoring strike – made it 7-3 Tigers 1:31 into the second quarter.
The second touchdown – a 10-yard run by Alex Winters, who had 118 of his 176 rushing yards in the first half – gave Massillon the lead back at 14-10 with 5:27 remaining in the half.
“I think Alex, after those two games (against St. Ignatius and Steubenville), we challenged him and he’s really stepped it up,” Hall said. “He’s really lowered his shoulders and delivered punishment instead of take it. That’s kind of a progression of a young running back. Sometimes I forget he’s just my baby running back. He’s a 10th-grader, but he didn’t play like a 10th grader.”
In between those scores, Mentor put together its own touchdown drive, creasing the Tiger defense with both the run and the pass. Cardinal quarterback Sam Mayse was 3-for-3 on the drive for 48 yards, while tailback Mike Korecz ran five times for 13 yards – including a 1-yard touchdown – and Ricky Hanzlik added a 19-yard run. Korecz gained 82 yards on 14 first-half carries. He finished with 110 yards.
Partridge and Smith hooked up for a second touchdown with 4:18 left in the third quarter. Partridge dropped back from the Mentor 4 and lobbed a fade pass to Smith, who leaped and made the catch for the touchdown. Jeremy Geier’s point-after made it 21-10 Tigers.
Partridge finished the game 14-of-20 for 233 yards. He threw three touchdown passes, all to Smith, who had four catches for 144 yards.
“Rob’s been sick with the flu,” Hall said. “He had a slow start, but he really battled through some adversity. He’s really under the weather and it took him about a quarter to get going.”
Aided by a roughing the passer penalty on a 41-yard pass play, the Cardinals drove to the Massillon 11. After a procedure penalty moved the ball back to the Tiger 16, Mentor ran an endaround to Graeham McKnight, who pulled up and threw a 16-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Marcus Cade in the end zone. Klisuric’s PAT made it 21-17 Tigers with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
Partridge and Smith hooked up a third time with 7:47 left in regulation, this time a 67-yard strike to make it 28-17. The play came right after a Bo Grunder interception, the second pick of the game for Massillon.
“Any time you capitalize, it’s big,” Hall said. “The one, they’re driving and we get that pick and we come right back and throw that ball. Rob did a good job of recognizing cover-3 and he went for the home run ball.”
But Mentor drove down the field, reaching the Tiger 7. After a pair of incomplete passes, Klisuric was called on to boot a 25- yard field goal, which made it 28-20 Tigers with 4:49 left.
With 1:22 remaining, the Tigers iced the game when Patridge scrambled for a nine-yard game on a fourth-and-seven on the Mentor 27.
EMOTIONS RUN TOO HIGH Mentor knocks off Tigers 25-17 in game marred by silly mistakes
By CHRIS EASTERLING The Independent
The Massillon Tigers faced two opponents on Friday night at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium. The first was the Mentor Cardinals; the second was themselves.
Just facing one of those would have been tough enough for Massillon, facing both was just too much to handle as the Tigers, who saw their two-game win streak halted by a 25-17 loss to Mentor in front of about 6,500 fans.
“I think our kids played too hard tonight,” Tiger coach Jason Hall said. “I think once we look at it, we just made one too many mistakes. They had a kickoff return for a touchdown, and just had some undisciplined penalties when our kids are really caught up emotionally in the game. But they were playing hard, but it all comes down to us missing a field goal and not scoring in the red zone. That lost us the game.”
And may eventually cost the Tigers a shot at the playoffs. Massillon falls to 5-4 on the season, with its traditional season finale against McKinley next Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers were sitting at No. 9 in Division I Region 2 in this week’s computer rankings. A win over the 6-3 Bulldogs would certainly help Massillon’s chances, but may not necessarily be enough.
What Hall and the Tigers may focus on mostly out of Friday’s loss is the penalties, which were crushing. Massillon was flagged 11 times for 92 yards – including a pair of accepted personal fouls, and at least two other offsetting personal fouls – but it was as much about the timing as the penalties themselves.
“It was an emotional, physical game, and sometimes you get too wrapped up into it,” Hall said. “Sometimes you have to take one, and that’s what we talk about. Sometimes it’s not the person who initiates it, but it’s the person who comes back.”
Trailing 14-7 early in the second quarter, and with the ball at their own 30, the Tigers were flagged for three straight penalties – including a hold – to move the ball to their own 9. Mentor then got a safety to take a 16-7 lead.
An intentional grounding penalty with the ball on the Mentor 6 and the Tigers down 25-14 pushed Massillon back to the Cardinal 22. The Tigers eventually had to settle for a 29-yard Jeremy Geier field goal to start the fourth quarter to cut it to 25-17.
But the most costly sequence may have come with just a little more than eight minutes left and Massillon facing a fourth-and-3 at the Cardinal 7. The Tigers tried to draw Mentor offsides, but jumped at the same time the Cardinals did to draw the illegal procedure penalty.
Mentor then blocked the field goal try on the 4th-and-8 play to turn the Tigers away.
“We just jumped too,” Hall said. “We went out there, we didn’t even have a play called. We practice it and practice it, and we got them, but we happened to pull our own selves offside as well. It was just a situation where we were going to try to force the penalty or kick the field goal, and we had to kick the field goal.”
Massillon had one last chance after Cooper Ivan stripped the Mentor ball carrier and returned it to the Cardinal 11. However, the Tigers were turned away on fourth-and-2 from the Mentor 3, and the Cardinals ran out the clock
The Tigers drove onto the Mentor side of the 50 five times in the second half, including four times inside the 30. However, those drives netted just three points.
In the first half, the Tigers were 2 of 2 in red-zone scoring chances, with Robert Partridge hitting Bo Grunder for an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead. Partridge also hit Kyle Pizzino on a 5-yard strike to cut the deficit to 19-14 at the intermission.
Massillon also saw a 179-yard rushing effort from J.T. Turner go by the boards as well. Turner benefited from a strong push from the Tiger offensive line, which held its own on the line of scrimmage for most of the night.
“I think we did a good job up front,” Hall said. “
The mistakes spoiled a strong effort from the Tiger defense, which held Mentor to just 217 yards of offense on the night. They also forced six three and outs, and twice kept the Cardinals from scoring on drives into Massillon territory.
Seven of Mentor’s points came on an 85-yard kickoff return by Mike Korecz which tied the score at 7-7 with 5:27 left in the first quarter. Another two points came on the safety.
The only substantial drive came on the Cardinals’ first true scoring drive, when they took 13 plays to march 42 yards to take a 14-7 lead. Tom Worden scored from 2-yards out for the touchdown.
“You can’t say enough about our defense against this offense,” Hall said. “I thought (defensive coordinator Steve) Kovacs and his staff had a great game plan and they executed.”
SCORING SUMMARY Mas – Grunder 8 pass from Partridge (Geier kick) Men – Korecz 85 kickoff return (Klisuric kick) Men – Worden 2 run (Klisuric kick) Men – Safety, sack in end zone Men – Klisuric 39 FG Mas – Pizzino 5 pass from Partridge (Geier kick) Men – Worden 21 pass from Mayse (Pass failed) Mas – Geier 29 FG
Mas Men First down 9 12 Rushes-yards 38-168 42-129 Comp-att.-int. 11-23-1 10-19-0 Passing yards 111 88 Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2 Penalty yards 11-92 9-76
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Rushing
Massillon: Turner 30-179; Roberson 1-4; Clark 1-1.
Mentor: 21-85 TD; Korecz 14-49.
Massillon: 9-20-98 2 TDs, INT; Clark 1-2-10; McCormick 1-1-3.
The numbers were mind-numbing Friday night: 66 points, 668 yards of offense, 463 rushing yards, two 160-yard rushers and nine touchdowns.
And then halftime arrived in Massillon’s game against Mentor at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
By the time the smoke finally cleared, some three-and-a-half hours after it all began, the last big play was made by the Cardinals, who scored on an 8-yard Bart Tanski-to-Steve Orkis pass with 24 seconds left in a 56-52 Massillon setback.
“The fans got their money’s worth,” said a dejected Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team is now 2-3 headed to next Saturday’s game at St. Ignatius in Parma. “That was a heck of a high school football game, that’s for sure. Their offense is just a juggernaut. … We knew they were good, we just didn’t have a whole lot of answers for them.”
Massillon took the lead – the eighth lead change of the game – with 1:52 remaining when fullback Steve Yoder crashed through the line for a 21-yard touchdown. Steve Schott’s extra point made it 52-49.
But Tanski was an efficient 7-of-7 for 71 yards on the winning drive. The only running play on it was an 8-yard scramble by the Mentor quarterback.
“You have to score when you can,” Stacy said. “You have to punch it in when you can.”
After scoring just 30 points in its last three games combined, Massillon came out with a different look to the offense, lining up in the power-I with Torrence at tailback and K.J. Herring at a halfback next to the fullback. With both Torrence and Herring in the game at the same time, they were able play off of each other with big-time results for the Tigers.
Torrence finished the game with 283 yards and four touchdowns – 168 of those yards and two of those scores in the first half. His 200-yard effort was matched by Mentor’s Tom Worden, who ran for 226 yards – 176 in the first half – and three scores on the night.
Herring added 109 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run which gave Massillon a 10-7 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.
“We wanted to get K.J. more involved in the game,” Stacy said. “We felt we needed another weapon in there to help take some of the pressure off of DeVoe.”
The problem was, the scoring wouldn’t end at that point. In fact, there were still 49 points and three lead changes to go – just in the first half.
The first defensive stop didn’t occur until just over a minute was left in the first quarter, and even then points were scored. Massillon would punt the ball away to Mentor, only to have Dorie Irvin strip the Cardinal return man, while J.B. Price swooped in to recover the fumble and return it 35 yards for a touchdown. Schott’s extra-point kick made it 17-14 Tigers with 1:09 left in the quarter.
Massillon’s biggest pain was Tanski. With the precision of a skilled surgeon, the senior calmly led the Cardinals down the field on drive after drive.
Tanski was 7-of-13 for 69 yards in the second quarter, with a pair of touchdown strikes to Orkis. He added a 15-yard touchdown run, a run which gave Mentor a 35-24 lead with 2:00 left until the band show.
Tanski finished 25-of-38 for 299 yards and three scores. He also ran for 56 yards.
The Tigers, not to be outdone, managed to change the scoreboard one final time before the half, with Torrence scoring from a yard out with 27 seconds left to slice it to 35-31 after the PAT.
The two teams would each score once in the third quarter – Worden scoring from 2-yards out with 8:48 left in the stanza, and Torrence from 9-yards out with 20 seconds left – keeping the Mentor lead at four, 42-38.
Torrence gave Massillon its first lead since the second quarter on a 24-yard run with 7:25 left – 45-42 after the PAT. But Tanski’s second scoring run, a 2-yarder, put Mentor in front 49-45 with 4:01 remaining.
A 40-yard kickoff return by Justin Turner, with an added 15 yards on a Mentor penalty, put the ball at the Cardinal 34. Massillon then was added by a key offside penalty against Mentor on a fourth-and-4 play at its own 28, extending the drive. Two plays later, Yoder scored to give the Tigers – momentarily – their final lead.
By CHRIS EASTERLING Chris.Easterling@IndeOnline.com
Six plays into the second half, the Massillon Tigers had grabbed control of the momentum and the lead in its game Friday night at Mentor. By the time the third quarter ended, the lead – if not the momentum – had shifted to the Cardinals.
Five plays into the fourth quarter, a Tiger fumble left little question who held the momentum. That momentum eventually carried itself over into a 19-7 Mentor win over Massillon in front of approximately 9,500 at Jerome T. Osbourne Sr. Stadium.
“We score a touchdown, and we think the game’s over,” said Tiger coach Tom Stacy, whose team falls to 3-2. “It’s like we stopped playing. I don’t know what the problem is. We have to look at the tape, see what the problem is and get them corrected.”
After both teams failed to mount any sort of scoring threat in the first half, the third quarter turned into a shoot-out. It started when the Tigers’ Chris Thornton recovered a pooch kick at the Mentor 35.
Six straight carries by Brian Gamble put Massillon into the end zone, the last of which covered three yards. Steve Schott’s extra point with 9:24 left in the third quarter gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
Gamble – who finished with 115 yards on the night – looked like he was venting some of the pent-up anger he had from the first half. He was screaming into the air as he walked off the field at halftime, part of it due to an official’s negation of an apparent Tiger touchdown.
“I thought he played well,” Stacy said of Gamble. “I can’t fault the kids’ effort. I thought we played hard. They just made more plays than we did.”
Bobby Huth appeared to hit Giorgio Jackson on a 50-yard “Hail Mary” pass on the final play of the half. However, the official behind the play came in and ruled the pass incomplete.
Television replays appeared to back up Massillon’s contention. Still, the ruling stood, and it was 0-0 at the intermission.
“They said he rolled over and didn’t have the ball,” Stacy said.
After Gamble’s touchdown, the Tigers didn’t have the ball much more in the third quarter. That’s because Mentor would chew up 79 yards on 15 plays on its subsequent possession, taking off over five minutes of clock time before Bart Tanski hit Brandon James on a 7-yard touchdown strike with 3:54 left.
The extra point kick was wide right, and Massillon kept the lead at 7-6. But not for too long.
“After nearly shutting them down in the first half … obviously they just executed better than we did,” Stacy said. “We scored, and it’s like it lit a fire under them.”
Massillon would go three-and-out on its next possession, and punt it to the Cardinals at their own 49. It would take only six plays for Mentor to march over that distance, thanks to a 30-yard quarterback keeper by Tanski to the Tiger 12.
Bill Deitman would give Mentor the lead for good, bull-rushing his way in from two yards out with 1:40 left in the quarter. The PAT pass was no good, keeping the Cardinal lead at 12-7.
“I think after that (Tiger touchdown) drive, we challenged our team on the bench,” said Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno, whose team is 4-1. “We felt we were a little soft on that series. After that, I thought we controlled the game real well.”
The Tigers would put together one final legitimate scoring threat in the game, starting after Deitman’s run. From its own 35, Massillon moved down to the Mentor 15 – with help from a big 31-yard Huth-to-Gamble strike on the final play of the third quarter.
However, the drive – and most likely the Tigers’ hopes – would end when the Cardinals’ Shane Molder popped the ball loose from the Massillon ballcarrier and Nate Wilson fell on the ball for Mentor at its own 5.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Tiger coach Tom Stacy said. “We killed ourselves with penalties. We put the ball on the ground. We shot ourselves in the foot. Supposedly we didn’t catch the ball in the end zone at the end of the half, I don’t know. We just didn’t make any plays. They made more plays than we did.”
The final nail would be driven in the Tiger coffin with 1:58 remaining as Tanski capped a short four-play, 19-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard run. Kevin Harper’s PAT provided the final margin.
Not that the Tigers have long to dwell on the setback.
“We better get back to work, because we’re playing a better football team next week,” Stacy said, referring to next Friday’s home game with St. Ignatius. “It doesn’t get any easier.”
Massillon 0 0 7 0 7
Mentor 0 0 12 7 19
Mas – Brian Gamble 3 run (Steve Schott kick)
Men – Brandon James 7 pass from Bart Tanski (Kick failed)
Men – Bill Deitman 2 run (Pass failed)
Men – Tanski 3 run (Kevin Harper kick)
Massillon rushing: Gamble 26–115, K.J. Herring 4-29, Tom Leonard 1-1.
Mentor rushing: Deitman 19-78 TD, Tanski 19-75 TD
Massillon passing: Bobby Huth 13-30-108
Mentor passing: Tanski 11-18-102 TD
Massillon receiving: Bryan Sheegog 4-27, Andrew Dailey 3-21, Gamble 2-36.
Mentor receiving: James 4-33 TD, Mike Popelas 3-51.
Say this for Troy Ellis. The young man has a flair for the dramatic.
Massillon’s senior cornerback came up with an interception in the shadow of the Tiger end zone to quell a Mentor drive midway through the third quarter, just when it looked like the Cardinals were going to make a game of it.
The Tigers then embarked on a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive that put Mentor away as Massillon stayed undefeated with a 31-10 victory in front of 8,578 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday.
“That’s huge. That’s huge,” Tiger quarterback Bobby Huth said of Ellis’ pick. “We count on our defense. We know they’re going to make a play. Troy is great. What can I say?”
It was Ellis’ seventh interception this season and it came with Massillon leading 17-3 but Mentor clearly owning the second-half momentum. The turnover couldn’t have come at a better time for Tiger head coach Tom Stacy.
“Oh, it was big,” Stacy said. “It was big. Troy Ellis is a heck of a football player.
“I felt like our defense played really well. They had the one drive but they’re going to get that. They scored 35 on St. Ignatius. They’re a good offensive football team.”
Massillon was up 17-0 at halftime but Mentor got on the scoreboard with a field goal that capped a 14-play drive that opened the third quarter.
The Tigers were forced to punt after three snaps on their first second-half possession and Mentor was on the march again, moving from its 40 to the Tiger 9. On second-and-eight, Mentor quarterback Kellen Oleksak threw it to the right flat for Brand James but Ellis came up with the football and returned it 26 yards to break the visitors’ hearts.
“We were in a cover three,” Ellis said. “They were trying the flat all night and I saw it coming out and I was reading it. The ball was just thrown over his head and I just grabbed it.
“We saw it on tape and they were pounding the flats on us all night. We were trying to get to it and I finally got one. We definitely needed (a turnover). I didn’t know it was coming my way but I felt like the defense was going to get one.”
Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno called Ellis’ play the turning point.
“That hurt,” Trivisonno said. “That would have made it 17-10 at that point. That’s the whole ball game. We told them, “Let’s go into the fourth quarter 17-10.” That’s where we needed to be. But they got that turnover.”
After the pick, Massillon embarked on a nine-play, 70 yard drive – keyed by a 42-yard Huth to Zack Vanryzin bomb – to put the game out of reach. The drive bridged the third and fourth quarters and was capped by Brian Gamble’s one-yard burst into the end zone. The touchdown and Steve Schott’s conversion kick gave Massillon a 24-3 lead at 10:27 of the fourth quarter.
Massillon added a score when Huth completed a fade route to Ricardo Wells from 14 yards out to make it 31-3 with just over five minutes to play.
“Offensively we just weren’t in the normal synch,” Stacy said afterward. “I give Mentor credit. They played hard and took away a couple things we like to do and game-planned us pretty well.”
As has been the case in their first four games this season, the Tigers jumped out first with two Huth-to-Vanryzin aerials covering 71 yards. The first came on the opening play from scrimmage as the junior quarterback rolled right and dropped a pass over the shoulder of the Mentor defender and into Vanryzn’s hands for a 39-yard gain to the Mentor 41.
After Gamble picked up eight yards on a run up the middle, Huth dropped back and found Vanryzin open on a post pattern. The 5-8, 170-pound senior hauled it in at the 3 and stepped into the end zone. Steve Schott’s point after was true and Massillon led 7-0 at 10:58 of the first quarter.
“It’s kind of scary when you think about it,” Stacy said. “We talk about that all the time and we were able to do it again and then we stalled a little bit.”
The Massillon defense forced Mentor into four consecutive punts in the first half. The fourth one set up the Tigers’ second score of the night when a shank by the Cardinal punter gave Massillon the ball at midfield.
The drive began innocently enough and looked to be dead after three plays failed to net a first down. But on fourth-and-2 at the Mentor 41, Gamble went over his right tackle and wouldn’t be denied until he’d picked up the first down at the Mentor 37.
Two plays later, Robert Morris rumbled for eight yards to the 23 for another Tiger first down.
“I can’t say enough about how hard our running backs are running for us,” Stacy said. “They’re physical and finishing runs and holding onto the football. That’s really good to see.’
On second-and-eight, Huth faked a handoff, rolled to his right and hit Trey Miller at the 3-yard line. Miller did the rest and Schott’s conversion placement put the Tigers up 14-0 at 3:09 of the second quarter.
Mentor’s fifth punt of the first half gave the Tigers the ball at their own 43 after Troy Ellis’ eight-yard return.
Huth was sacked for an eight yard loss on first down but Gamble erased that with a 38-yard burst around the right end to the Mentor 27.
Two Tiger penalties set them back 10 yards but Huth hooked up with Brett Huffman on a short pass and the senior tight end carried the ball 20 yards to the 17.
Schott closed the first half scoring by drilling a 34-yard field goal with :04 until intermission to put Massillon up 17-0 at the break.
“I think the field goal right at the end of half was really big,” Stacy said. “You could see it lifted our kids back up offensively. It’s a good way to finish the half. It was a real key for us.”
“You can label this one the return of James Boys,” Massillon coach Mike Currence said after the Tigers defeated Mentor Friday night before 10,534 fans in Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
“The defense did the job tonight. The Tigers became hungry forthefirsttime this year,” he added.
Currence was speaking of the effect the return of tackle Bob James had on his defensive unit, which allowed the Cardinals only two first downs through the first three quarters as the Tigers rolled to a 30‑0 lead before sending in the subs.
A week ago, James was in the hospital with a viral infection . He returned to practice early in the week and was still a questionable starter as of Thursday.
But he was in the trenches when the game started, and the Massillon defense responded to his return with its most impressive showing of the season.
The offense, meanwhile, showcased a devastating running game which was complemented by some big plays by quarterback Dave Eberhart.
The senior signal caller hit one of his first two passes, then whipped his next three tosses for touchdowns the first for 18 yards to Mike Reese, the second for 40 yards to Mike Feller and the third for seven yards to Mike Jones.
That gave the Tigers a 20‑0 first‑quarter lead, and Jone‑ scored on a four‑yard run in the second quarter to give Massillon a 27‑0 halftime lead. Eberhart added a 28‑yard field goal in the third quarter to complete the scoring.
He finished with six completions in 11 attempts for 112 yards and three touchdowns, and a couple of his passes were dropped. Jones led the rushing attack with 68 yards on 13 carries.
But the Tiger offense suffered a severe blow in the second quarter when fullback Greg Grimsley limped off the field after a three‑yard run. Currence said he suffered possible torn ligaments in his left knee, and may be lost for the season.
His knee was to be checked today to determine how serious the injury is.
“We lost a big gun tonight,” Currence admitted. “He makes the offense go.”
Mentor coach Tom Frazier, when informed of Grmnsley’s injury, said: “That’s a shame. One of things which I thought made them better this year was having the big, strong fullback. He’s an exceptional
Frazier, whose team lost to the Tigers 28‑0 last season, said he thought this year’s team is better than 1979’s state playoff squad.
“They are a much more physical team defensively this year than they were last season,” he said. “Maybe it was a combination of them playing exceptionally well on defense and us playing poorly on the offensive line.
“I’m really disappointed. We knew we would have
trouble with their speed, but I’m real disappointed with the way their offensive line blew us out.”
Of his own team, which had seven starters returning oil defense and several more on offense, Frazier said: “Right now, I don’t know where we stand as a football team. we have problems in some areas, and we’re going to have to make improvements to be successful.”
The Cardinals take on Greater Cleveland Conference foe Euclid next weekend, and may have to do so without starting quarterback Shawn Palmer, who injured his back. Palmer was sacked several times by the Tiger defense, and had to throw most of his passes from the “horizontal parade rest” position. The fierce Tiger pass rush got to him even when he was able to get the pass off.
“Both our tackles did a good job tonight,” Tiger defensive coordinator Jim Letcavits said of James and Ed Newman, who sacked Palmer and recovered at the Mentor seven yard line to set up Massillon’s third score.
‑We had the good rush on the passer which we didn’t have before,” Letcavits added.
Currence said: “The name of the game for us is defense. If it can get the ball for us, we’re going to put points on the board. They did it and we’re proud of them. ”
Currence said he also liked the job his offensive line did, and noted that he felt the Tigers controlled the line of scrimmage both defensively and offensively.
With Grimsley possibly lost for the season, the possibility of switching James back to fullback was brought up. James played that position until late last season, when he was switched to the defensive line.
6’The question is, can we afford to move Bob James to fullback. We’ll have to answer that this week. He means an awful lot to out, defense. ” Currence said.
The regular backup fullback, junior Michael Moore, is out with a bruised thigh and probably won’t be ready for action by next Friday, when the Tigers will host Akroyi Garfield.
Currence said junior George Roknich, who filled in for Grimsley last night, will probably get the call there. Also, senior Dave Huth got the starting nod at halfback against Mentor because of an illness to junior Robert Oliver, who started the first two games. Oliver is expected to be ready next weekend.
With the Tiger defense stifling Mentor’s offense, Massillon had little trouble getting on the board early.
Following a punt by the Cardinals on their first possession, the Tigers drove 59 yards in nine plays for their first score. Eberhart found Reese open in the left corner of the end zone from 18 vards out with 6 31 to play in the first quarter. Eberhart’s conversion kick made it 7‑0.
Mentor punted again, and Newman recovered a fumble by Tiger kick returner Paul Turner at the Massillon 27 yard line. A clipping penalty pushed the Tigers back to their own 13.
Seven running plays moved the ball to the Mentor 40. On second‑and‑four, Eberhart used a play‑action fake to freeze the Cardinal defense, and hit the wide‑open Feller down the right sideline for a touchdown, Eberhart’s PAT kick made it 14‑0 with 1:21 to play in the quarter.
On the Cardinals’ first play from their own 18 yard 1 me. Palmer dropped back to pass. He was rushed hard by Newman and defensive end Don Fulton. It appeared that Newman batted down Palmer’s pass, but the officials ruled it a fumble, and Newman came up with it at the Cardinals’ seven yard line.
One Eberhart to Jones pass later it was 20‑0 with seven seconds still showing on the clock. Eberhart’s point‑after kick missed.
Mentor took the ensuing kickoff, and Palmer finally completed a 13‑yard pass to Mark Gartland for the Cardinals initial first down.
Middle guard Jeff Grove sacked Palmer on the next third‑down play, however, and1he Cards punted again.
The Tigers looked like they were going to get another long touchdown when Eberhart ‑ from the Mentor 42 ‑ threw long to Jones. The ball bounced off Jones’ shoulder pad, though, and fell incomplete. Two plays later the Tigers punted, and Palmer was then intercepted by junior linebacker Tim Manion at the Mentor 30 yard line.
Grimsley ran seven yards, then took a pitchout to the right and came close to a first down. He came up limping and hobbled off the field.
Eberhart threw an incomplete pass on third‑and-inches, then ran four yards for a first down. Three plays later Jones took it in from the four. Eberhart’s kick made it 27‑0 with 3:39 left in the half.
Following an exchange of punts at the beginning of the third quarter, the Tigers put together a drive that carried from their own 28 to the Mentor five yard line.
On fourth‑and‑five, the Tigers were penalized for delay of game, and Eberhart booted a 28‑yard field goal with 1:13 left in the quarter.
With the Tiger subs in the game, the Cardinals finally got their offense going. On first‑and‑10 from their own 44 yard line, Palmer found Lenny Weber open down the middle with a 56‑yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick was blocked, and the Tigers led 30‑6 with 7:20 to go in the game.
The Tigers recovered the Cardinals’ ensuing onside kick when George Nikitenko came up with the ball at his own 47. Steve Trivisonno stopped the Tigers’ drive, however, when he intercepted a Rick Spielman pass at his own 31 yard line.
With Trivisonno taking over at quarterback, Mentor drove into Tiger territory. On fourth‑and‑24 from the Massillon 34, Trivisonno hit Weber with a 34‑yard touchdown pass with 1:42 to go in the game. On a fake kick attempt, Palmer passed to Scott Ockington for the extra points.
Mentor’s Mike Caldwell recovered an onside kick at the Tiger 49, but four straight incompletions squelched the Cardinals’ final threat.
Massillon is now 3‑0 on the season while Mentor falls to 1‑2.
Statistically, Eberhart was the offensive key for the Tigers, rushing for 60 yards in eight carries in addition to his 112 yards passing. Reese was the top Tiger receiver, catching three passes for 60 yards. Grimsley finished with 30 yards in six carries and Roknich had 18 yards in four carries.
FINAL STATISTICS MASS. OPP. First downs‑rushing 11 3 First downs-passing 5 4 First downs‑penalties 1 0 Total first downs 17 7 Yards gained rushing 221 88 Yards lost rushing 0 56 Net Yds. gained rushing 221 32 Net yds. gained passing 132 132 Total yards gained 353 164 Passes attempted 19 15 Passes completed 7 4 Passes intercepted by 1 0 Ydg. on passes intercepted 0 0 Times kicked off 6 3 Kickoff average (ydg.) 48.5 24.0 Kickoff returns (yds.) 21 63 Times punted 3 6 Punt average (yds.) 37.3 37.5 Punt returns (yds.) 26 0 Had punts blocked 0 0 Fumbles 5 1 Lost fumbled ball 2 1 Penalties 10 5 Yards penalized 89 41 Touchdowns rushing 1 0 Touchdowns passing 3 2 Touchdowns by interception 0 0 Miscellaneous touchdowns 0 0 Total number of plays 62 46 Total time of possession 27:06 20:54
MENTOR 0 0 0 14 ‑ 14 MASSILLON 20 7 3 0 ‑ 30
MASS ‑ Mike Reese 18 pass from Dave Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Mike Feller 40 pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS – Mike Jones 7 pass from Eberhart (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ Jones 4 run (Eberhart kick) MASS ‑ FG 28 Eberhart MENT ‑ Lenny Weber 56 pass from Shawn Palmer (kick fail) MENT – Weber 34 pass from Steve Trivisonno (Scott Ockington pass from Palmer)
MASSILLON – As the skies unleashed a mighty downpour, the Massillon Tigers unleashed fullback Bill Harmon, leaving the Mentor Cardinals both wet and defeated 20-2 Friday night at Tiger stadium.
Leading Massillon with 16 carries for 161 yards, Harmon rolled for three touchdowns. Two came on runs of 33 and 28 yards in the second quarter, but not without the aid of costly Cardinal turnover.
Late in the first quarter, Mentor quarterback Mike Yutzy fumbled on the Tiger 27 and Massillon recovered. Harmon and tailback Tom Grizzard ground out 40 yards rushing before the senior fullback sprung for his 33-yard gallop.
In the second stanza, Yutzy again bobbled the ball, this time on the Mentor 34-yard line. Two plays later, Harmon carried for 28 and a Tiger score.
“Massillon has a terrific offensive line,” Mentor Coach Frank Domokos said after the game. The trenchmen repeatedly opened holes for Harmon, Grizzard and tailback Jay Harper.
And it’s good for Massillon that the line came through, since quarterback Todd Keller attempted only four passes without a completion.
It was a different story for Yutzy, who connected on five of 16 aerials for 81 yards. Sharing the Mentor offensive chores with Yutzy was fullback Joel Payton, who led the Cardinals on the ground with 55 yards on 14 carries.
But it was the defense that put Mentor’s only tallies on the scoreboard. In its second possession of the first quarter, Massillon elected to punt on a fourth-and eleven situation on their own 20-yard line.
Punter Keith Harmon jumped, but missed a high snap from center. As Harmon chased the skittering ball into the end zone, the Mentor defense chased Harmon, crushing him for a safety.
The Tigers wound up the game’s scoring in the third quarter by rolling for another touchdown. Massillon took possession on the Mentor 40-yard line after a Cardinal punt. Harper carried the brunt of the moving chores, rushing four times for 22 yards before fullback Harmon got the call from four yards out and bulled his way to the goal.
In the extra-point department, Massillon tried to run in each situation, but only after the second did Grizzard find the distance for two points.
All the while, rain drenched Tiger Stadium, causing blockers to bumble and runners to fumble.
“Weather like this takes the game out of the hands of the coach,” Tiger mentor Coach Chuck Shuff said after the game.
“With a drier field, we could have put the ball up in the air more,” Domokos said. “As it was, we had a breakdown in pass protection.
“I was not really displeased,” the Cardinal Coach continued. “We’re not going to be a bad team before this year is over.”
Amidst a post game locker room full of happy Tigers, Shuff found a lot of time for grinning. “We can’t argue about a little success from our backs,” he said.
MASSILLON Offense Ends – Bill Bammerlin (6-2, 170, Sr.); Mark Matie (6-1, 220, Sr.). Tackles – Mike Lauber (6-0, 205, Sr.) Sylvester Drobney (6-1, 220, Sr.); Guards – Todd Schumacher (6-1, 200, Sr.); Carl Christoff, (5-9, 180, Sr.). Center – Dan Nagle (6-0, 225, Sr.). Quarterback – Todd Keller (6-1, 185, Sr.). Halfbacks – Tom Grizzard (6-0, 180, Sr.); Jeff Lab (6-1, 195, Sr.). Fullback – Bill Harmon (6-1, 237, Sr.). Defense Ends – Keith Harmon (6-1, 195, Sr.); Lauber. Tackles – Steve Easter (6-2, 205, Sr.); Nagle. Middle Guard – Jesse Toles (6-0, 195, Jr.). Linebackers – Lab; Grizzard. Secondary – Glenn Arner (6-1, 175, Sr.); Harold Dorsey (6-1, 190, Sr.); Don Stewart (5-10, 160, Sr.); Willie Conley (6-0, 175).
GRIDSTICK Mass. Men. First downs rushing 14 2 First downs passing 0 3 First downs penalties 0 1 Total first downs 14 6 Yards gained rushing 286 75 Yards lost rushing 33 31 Net yards gained rushing 253 44 Net yards gained passing 0 81 Total yards gained 253 125 Passes completed 0-4 5-16 Passes intercepted by 0 0 Yards on passes Intercepted 0 0 Kickoff average (yards) 5-33.2 1-47.0 Kickoff returns (yards) 22 91 Punt average (yards) 4-33.2 6-29.1 Punt returns (yards) 0 0 Had punts blocked 0 0 Lost fumbled ball 2-4 3-4 Yards penalized 4-40 6-30 Touchdowns rushing 3 0 Total number of plays 51 55 Total time of possession 25:26 22:34