MASSILLON There was only record Aidan Longwell cared about as he walked off the Paul Brown Tiger Stadium turf on Friday night. That would be Massillon’s 4-0 record.
The Tigers, though, earned that record in part because of Longwell’s ability to set a new school career passing touchdown mark in their 42-21 victory over previously-undefeated Pennsylvania visitor Penn-Trafford.
“I think a lot of people are trying to pressure us into things this year,” the Massillon senior quarterback said. “We’re overcoming it. We’re just taking it one game at a time and we’re doing a great job of it right now.”
Longwell threw four touchdown passes in the victory, giving him 65 for his career. He broke the old mark of 63 set by Justin Zwick in 2000-01.
His record-tying 63rd career scoring pass, a 54-yard strike to Andrew Wilson-Lamp, gave Massillon a 28-14 lead with 4:10 remaining in the first half. His record-setting strike, an 8-yarder to Jayden Ballard in the front left corner of the end zone as time expired in the half, gave the Tigers a 35-21 halftime lead.
For the game, Longwell was 14-of-15 for 225 yards. He goes into next Friday’s home game against Firestone needing just 31 yards to break Kyle Kempt’s career passing record of 6,034 yards set from 2010-12.
“It’s special, especially at Massillon,” Longwell said of the record. “The quarterbacks and great players who have played here. I just have to give a great shout-out to my offensive line, present and past, and my receivers. Everybody’s kind of balled for me as part of this.”
Penn-Trafford was impressive in turning the game’s first drive into a methodical 17-play, 82-yard scoring drive that took the initial 9:38 off the clock. The Warriors converted all five third downs on the possession, including a 6-yard run by quarterback Gabe Dunlap to give them a 7-0 lead.
Dunlap would prove to be a handful all evening, gaining 90 of the Warriors’ 110 rushing yards, while throwing for 257 yards and two scores. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.
“He’s a field general,” said Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane, whose team falls to 4-1. “He’s an underrated football player. He continually makes plays for us in the passing game, and more importantly, in the run game sometimes. There’s a lot of times where it’s tough to get him down on the sack with one guy, and he kind of showed that tonight.”
The Warriors’ opening possession would be, by far, the longest scoring drive by either team over the duration of the first half. That is, until Massillon put together its half-ending 13-play, 74-yard drive to go up 35-21 at the break.
In between, the Tigers’ other four scoring drives went for a combined 15 plays. Penn-Trafford, meanwhile, scored its other two first-half scores on a combined seven plays.
In the second half, the only scoring drive was Massillon’s 13-play, 49-yard fourth-quarter march which ended with Longwell hitting Anthony Pedro on a 5-yard touchdown pass.
Massillon, which went scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season, would score the game-tying touchdown on the first play off the second quarter on Zion Phifer’s 3-yard run. Then, one play after stopping the Warriors on a fourth-down play, Longwell and Ballard hooked up for a 30-yard touchdown pass to go in front 14-7 with 9:54 remaining in the first half.
The Tigers would lead 21-7 on Terrence Keyes’ 8-yard touchdown run with 7:32 remaining in the half. They would also open up 14-point first-half leads on Longwell’s record-tying and record-setting scoring passes at 28-14 and 35-21.
Penn-Trafford used a pair of big pass plays to stay within reach. A 64-yard catch-and-run by Ethan Carr on a fourth-down pass from Dunlap cut it to 21-14, while Mason Frye’s 77-yard catch set up Dunlap’s 3-yard run to make it 28-21 Tiger lead with 3:55 remaining in the half.
The Warriors, who had 253 yards at halftime, had just 114 yards in the final two quarters.
“We really did a good job, in a lot of ways, in the first half,” Massillon coach Nate Moore said of his defense. “We just had to make the plays that are there.”
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