Tag: <span>Nick Pribich</span>

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

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.

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


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)


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).

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

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 10, Austintown Fitch 7

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

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.

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


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

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


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

Spencer 4‑12‑32.
Marinelli 4‑17‑119, 1 TD.

Mohler 1‑20.
Yargo 2‑23.

Leon Ashcraft