Massillon moves to 7-1 with rout of Canadian team
MASSILLON – The best thing the Massillon Tigers could say about Friday night’s game against Pauline Johnson Collegiate (Ont.) is that it’s behind them and they can now turn their attention to bigger opponents.
Facing a dramatically overmatched opponent in the Thunderbirds, the Tigers rolled to a 71-12 win inside Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The win, Massillon’s sixth in a row, improves the Tigers to 7-1.
“I think the best part about this is that a lot of guys got to play,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “A lot of guys who work as hard as anybody in practice, a lot of guys on the challenge team. To see those guys out there getting a chance to run the ball and make tackles, do all those things, that was the best part about tonight.”
Now the Tigers can turn their attention to the final two games of the regular season, starting with a home game against St. Vincent-St. Mary. They can also do so having avoided any significant injuries during Friday’s rout.
The game, expected to be a rout, didn’t waste much time in getting to that point. The Tigers did not run more than four plays in any of their first-half possessions, and walked into the locker room with a 56-0 halftime lead.
“We took care of business,” said senior quarterback Kyle Kempt, who was 7-of-9 for 103 yards with two touchdowns.
The first time Massillon ran a play that did not pick up positive yardage was on the final play of the first half.
That’s when the Tigers, who recovered a Pauline Johnson fumble at the Thunderbird 2, took a knee with 40 seconds remaining.
The game was so lopsided by that point, it was agreed upon by both teams that the second half would be limited to a pair of seven-minute quarters. The Tigers still added a pair of third quarter scores to lead 71-0.
By that point in time, the Tiger starters had already made themselves quite comfortable on the bench. The last time the entire first-unit took the field together was on the first possession of the second quarter, which ended with a 41-yard touchdown run by Lyron Wilson just 51 seconds into the quarter, making it 35-0.
“I thought they came out and played pretty sound,” Hall said. “We just lined up and played. Offensively, it’s what we would expect from our guys. They came out and executed.”
The rout actually took a little longer than expected, roughly 2:33, to be exact. The Thunderbirds took the opening kickoff and picked up a first down before the Tiger defense stiffened and forced a punt 2:18 into the game.
Two play after that punt, it was 7-0 Massillon, thanks to a 56-yard Ernie Baez touchdown run.
After a three-and-out by Pauline Johnson, the Tigers took four plays to go ahead 14-0 on a Kempt-to-Beau Huffman 23-yard touchdown pass with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Kempt also threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Rambo that made it 28-0 with 1:43 left in the first quarter.
Reserve quarterback D.J. Brown also threw two touchdowns, one to Zach Volzer and another to Damion Smith. Brown completed all four of his passes for 57 yards.
Wilson, who saw extensive playing time with the first unit as Ryne Moore rested a mild injury, made the most of the time he saw on the field. The junior running back had a 49-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, while finishing the game with 85 yards on four carries.
Even the reserves got into the action, scoring on five of nine drives after the majority of the starters were pulled. The first time the Tigers didn’t score on a possession came on their eighth drive, which ended on a fumble.
They recovered from that, though, as Gunner Ries picked off a pass on the subsequent Thunderbird possession and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown with 1:46 left in the half. That was one of five turnovers by Pauline Johnson, three in a row to end the first half.
The shutout held until the final 2:44 of the game. Pauline Johnson put together two scoring drives in that span to prevent the Tigers’ first shutout since 2009.