Mistakes costly in loss to D-IV No. 1 Big Red
By Chris Easterling
Independent Sports Editor
STEUBENVILLE You can’t make mistakes and expect to beat most teams. Make mistakes against a very good team, and you’re giving yourself no chance to win.
Massillon made mistake after mistake Friday night at Steubenville. The result was exactly what one would expect it to be, as the Tigers were beaten 48-21 by Big Red – the No. 1-ranked Division IV team – in front of a near-capacity crowd at Harding Stadium.
“We just couldn’t get out of our own way tonight,” said Massillon coach Nate Moore, whose team falls to 1-3 with a home game against Toledo Bowsher on Friday. “We just couldn’t do it.”
The Tigers turned the ball over five times on the night, including four in the first half alone.
The last of those first-half giveaways was a 58-yard interception return by Steubenville’s Jeremy Blue that gave Big Red a 35-7 halftime lead.
It’s the largest halftime deficit for Massillon since it trailed St. Ignatius 49-0 in Week Six of the 2008 season.
That was one of two pick-6s for Steubenville. Dujuan Jones had a 67-yard return that made it 42-7 Big Red with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
“Everybody’s making mistakes,” Moore said. “Attention to detail has to be better.”
In the last three games, the Tigers have turned the football over 13 times. In the last two games, Massillon has seen five of its turnovers turned into opposing points.
The interesting thing was, it was a 14-7 Big Red lead midway through the second quarter after Keyshawn Watson took a pass and outran the defense for a 59-yard catch-and-run from Seth Blankenship. That score was set up when Jeff Koch stepped in front of a Steubenville pass in the end zone for an interception.
That was one of the few big plays Massillon’s offense could muster. The Tigers, after posting 548 yards on 90 plays in a 48-41 loss to Warren Harding last week, finished with 366 yards on 61 plays Friday night.
Watson also had an 18-yard touchdown run with 10:19 left to make it 42-14. Austin Jasinski also caught a 70-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth to make it 42-21.
Big Red responded after the Tigers pulled within seven in the second quarter with a quick four play drive, the final 46 of those coming on a Dimitri Collaros-to-Niko Petrides touchdown pass to make it 21-7 with 6:28 left in the ‘half. Petrides got behind the Tiger secondary and ran essentially untouched into the end zone.
It was one of two such scoring catches for Petrides in the first half. He scored Steubenville’s first touchdown on a 20-yard catch on post pass on its first drive,
Petrides had all six of his catches for 124 yards in the first half.
Collaros hooked up Charles Reeves for a 53-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 Big Red with 1:17 remaining in the half. That score was set up after Steubenville recovered a Tiger fumble at the Big Red 18.
Collaros finished the first half with 253 passing yards, completing 15-of-25 attempts. For the game, he was 16-of-26 for 264 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
Steubenville finished with 436 total yards. Johnnie Blue, who had a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter for a 14-0 Big Red lead, finished with 167 rushing yards on 21 carries.
“They were close to 50-50 (run-pass coming into the game),” Moore said. “I thought we were a little better in the run game than we have been in the past. That was probably a factor.”
Steubenville also recovered a squib kick that hit the back of a Massillon player after Reeves’ touchdown. That drive was stopped on downs at the Tiger 37, but Big Red would get the pick-6 to change the scoreboard right before half.