1954: Massillon 7, Alliance 19
Alliance Ends Tiger Winning Streak
Aviators Triumph 19-7 To Break Massillon’s String of 25 Victories
By LUTHER EMERY
Mel Knowlton was king of Alliance today and his Aviators were flying high.
Before an overflow crowd of 11,000 fans that expected to see anything happen, the Alliance high school gridders cut Massillon’s 25-game winning streak in Mount Union stadium Friday night by handing the Washington high Tigers a 19-7 defeat.
Two well placed bombs did it.
They were thrown by veteran Quarterback Bill Offenbecher to receivers Frank Kracher and Bob Reda, who made virtually impossible catches as they took the ball out of the arms of Massillon defenders and fell inside the five-yard line.
* * *
IT TOOK all the might Alliance could muster from there on to score. Four downs to make one yard for the first one, three downs plus a penalty to the one-yard line to get the second. But it was enough. The Tigers were licked. The third T.D. coming when it did, didn’t matter.
It was an uphill game for Alliance because Massillon scored first on a 69-yard run by Homer Floyd with only five minutes gone in the first period.
And big Bob Williams made the lead 7-0 by kicking the extra point squarely between the uprights.
Alliance struck back with its first scoring effort in the last two minutes of the quarter after Offenbecher had passed 39 yards to Kracher for a first down on the one. Speedy Tom Barnett barely got over on fourth down to end a valiant Massillon goal line stand. Don Slusser, of the Aviators had his try for extra point blocked by End Jim Houston of Massillon.
And there the scored stood at 7-6 until four minutes had expired of the fourth period. Then again Offenbecher pitched and this time Reda caught the ball on the five-yard
line – a 35-yard pass. The Tigers appeared to have the Aviators grounded until they got too eager and drew an offside penalty that gave Alliance a first down on the one-yard line, Barnett went around right end to score, and Slusser kicked the extra point to put his team in front 13-7.
The Tigers couldn’t get past midfield after that and yielded the ball to Alliance on downs on the Massillon 42. The Aviators went all the way this time with Joel Plummer crossing up the local team as he raced 25 yards on a double reverse to score Alliance’s third touchdown.
* * *
THAT WAS IT. There were only four minutes left and everyone knew as they were being ticked off that the Tigers didn’t have a chance to catch up.
The final gun was a signal for one happy man.
He said he was waiting for this one, thought his team played well and thought the turning point of the game came in the early minutes of the third period when Alliance covered a Massillon fumble when the Tigers ahead 7-6, were driving for a second touchdown on the 12-yard line.
* * *
THE MASSILLON dressing room was the quietest it has been since the evening at Warren in 1951 when the Panthers handed the Tigers their last defeat prior to last night. Since then Massillon teams had won 25 games in a row, three at the end of the 1951 season, 10 each in 1952 and 1953 and two this season.
Now Alliance has ended the streak and as Coach Tom Harp told his players, ‘We will have to start all over.”
Harp complimented Alliance for having a good football team and the two pass snatchers, Kracker and Reda, for their efforts. “We had both of them pretty well covered,” he said, “but they came out with the ball. We lost to a good team.”
The Tiger coach didn’t like the fumble call on Floyd when Alliance was given the pigskin on its own 12, thus ending a Massillon scoring threat which had it succeeded might have changed the outcome. He felt the ball was down and that it should not have been ruled a fumble.
It was one of a series of breaks that went against the Tigers last night. They lost the ball four times on fumbles, had a pass intercepted and were penalized a couple of times when it hurt most.
But that is football and is not intended to take anything away from Alliance.
After all, the Tigers had reached the 12-yard line by recovering an Alliance fumble, on the 21, the only one made by the Aviators all night.
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THE GENERAL run of the game was similar to the Alliance victory of 1948 with the Massillon team spurting and sputtering and the Aviators gaining momentum and playing their hearts out when they saw victory in sight.
The defeat was Harp’s first as a Massillon coach and he should not feel too badly about it because a couple of Massillon’s greatest coaches also suffered their first losses to Alliance, Paul Brown in 1932 and Chuck Mather in 1948. After that they became masters of the Aviators and were never beaten by them again.
Save for letting Alliance get away with the two long passes, the Tigers played a pretty good defensive game. They kept the reputable Alliance ball carriers bottled up most of the time and on only a couple of occasions did the Aviators break loose. The Tigers yielded only 67 net yards on the ground but gave away 79 in passing to give Alliance 146-net yards gained. The locals did a little better, largely the result of Floyd’s 69-yard run. They gained 145 net yards on the ground and 14 passing for 159 net yards.
First downs were six to six.
Actually the Tigers threatened but twice, the time they scored and the time they recovered the Alliance fumble and got to the 12 before fumbling themselves. Otherwise they were bottled up for the most part in their own back yard.
* * *
MOST FANS wondered about a Massillon play in the second period when the ball flew high in the air as it was centered. The center thought Alliance offside and passed it to get a five-yard penalty, but the officials thought differently.
Then there was a little rhubarb at the end of the second half when Alliance uncorked a screen pass that took the ball deep into Massillon territory. Time expired as the play was in motion and Massillon was offside on the play. The officials ruled that Alliance could either take the gain of some 50 yards or the five-yard penalty.
However, if it took the gain, the half would be over, but if it took the penalty it would be able to run one more play. So it took the penalty. Knowlton protested that he should have been given another play from the point of the gain.
The local team came out of the game in fairly good condition. Quarterback Rich Crescenze had a pair of black eyes and was ill and there were the usual bruises and bumps. None, however, appeared serious.
The squad ate in Canton on the trip home. Appetites aren’t as big when you lose and the food not as good, the players learned.
Briefly, here is a quick resume of the game:
Massillon won the toss and received. After an exchange of punts the Tigers got the ball on their 26. Floyd gained five yards and on third down raced 69 yards around his right end to score. Bob Williams kicked the extra point.
Massillon 7, Alliance 8.
Massillon kicked off to Alliance and the Aviators came all the way from their 37, getting a first down on the Massillon 41 and then the Offenbecher to Kracker pass for 39 yards and a first down on the one. Three times the Aviators crashed the Tiger line but were thrown back. On fourth down Barnett got over by inches. Slusser missed the attempted placekick.
Massillon 7, Alliance 6
After a kickoff and exchange of punts Massillon got into Alliance territory but, with a yard needed for first down, lost the ball on a play mix-up and Alliance took over on its 44. The Aviators w ere forced to punt and Alliance intercepted a Crescenze pass on the Tigers’ 20. The locals stopped the threat and took over on the 11. Neither team threatened anymore in the period.
Alliance fumbled on the second play after the kickoff and Floyd covered on the 21. In three plays Floyd was on the Alliance 12 when the officials ruled he was not down as he fumbled and Alliance took over. Alliance made one first down before it punted, and the Tigers came back over the midfield stripe with the ball only to lose it on a fumble on the Alliance 44.
Alliance gambled for two yards on fourth down and got it on the Massillon 44. Then came the Offenbecher to Reda pass that gained a first on the five. Plummer hit once for a yard, tried again and got another yard but Alliance was offside and penalized back to the nine. Plummer gained three. On the next play the Tigers were offside and Alliance was given the ball on the one. This time Barnett made it around right end. Slusser kicked the extra point and Alliance went to the front 13-7.
Eight minutes remained to be played. The Tigers brought the kickoff back to their 31 and Floyd got up to a first down on his 43. There the attack fizzled as a recovered fumble lost two yards. Boekel failed to gain, a pass was grounded and an attempt to carry on fourth down fell short. Alliance took over on the Massillon 42, worked it to the 25 and Plummer went the rest of the way on a double reverse. Slusser missed the try for point.
Alliance 19, Massillon 7
Massillon made one first down after the kickoff on a screen pass to Floyd that took the ball to the Tiger 38, but a pitch-out went wide and lost eight yards and the locals wound up punting to Alliance. The game ended after one play.
ENDS – Canary, Lorch, Williams, Houston, Jones, Francisco.
TACKLES – R. Williams, Hill, Moore, Schumacher.
GUARDS – Holloway, R. Maier, Tracy, Fisher.
CENTERS – Spicer, Morrow, Roan.
QUARTERBACKS – Crescenze, James.
HALFBACKS – Fromholtz, Floyd, Stavroff, Brown, Duke, Stephens, Yoder.
FULLBACKS – Boekel, Archibald.
First downs 6 6
Passes attempted 7 6
Passes completed 1 3
Had passes intercepted 1 0
Yards gained passing 14 79
Yards gained rushing 162 83
Total yards gained 176 162
Yards lost 17 16
Net yards gained 159 146
Times punted 4 4
Average punt (yards) 40 32
Yards punts returned by 0 22
Times kicked off 2 4
Average kickoff (yards) 38 47
Yards kickoffs returned by 62 10
Lost ball on fumbles 4 1
Times penalized 4 5
Times fumbled 5 1
Yards penalized 30 35