1957: Massillon 20, Warren Harding 14
State’s No. 1 Team Falls Before 21,384 Fans After Second Half Surge Ties Score
Desperation Pass Wins For Tigers
Sparma-Childers Duo Puts Massillon Back In Running for Title
By CHARLIE POWELL
The pass was slightly wobbly.
The catch was miraculous, one you have to consider lucky.
But it was the best darn pass Massillon has seen for a long, long time.
It was unfurled by a gutty sophomore Joe Sparma by name, third string quarterback. He threw it some 46 yards and time ran out as it was in the air, for only four seconds remained when the play started.
The Horatio Alger was Clyde Childers senior, first string left end. This kid can do just about anything in big league fashion when he makes up his mind. He streaked past the secondary to the two yard line and as he saw the pigpelt wasn’t going to catch up to him, retraced his steps back to the four. Simultaneously he and Willie Jones, defensive halfback for the erstwhile state leaders, leaped into the air. Big Clyde stretched his 6 ft. 4 frame but managed to get only one hand on the ball.
His paw deflected the ball a bit and he jumped up again at the three-yard line.
He was more than a match for Jones this time. He latched his mitts on the ball – and by instinct, wheeled around and churned off the three most important yards of his young life.
Massillon 20, Warren 14,
Absolute pandemonium reigned at Tiger stadium. Like bees swarming to a hive, the fighting Tigers, their coaches and a couple hundred fans rushed toward the vicinity of the south goal where Childers, then Sparma, then Coach Lee Tressel were mobbed.
* * *
THERE WAS NO opportunity for an attempt at the extra point and for the moment, nobody was giving it much thought.
If you just gasped for breath and your eyes were glassy, you weren’t alone. If you screamed and yelled and raved and even shed a few tears of joy, you weren’t alone.
Today, perhaps you can’t remember what you said or did – but brothers and sisters, you aren’t alone.
The tumult and the shouting lasted long after the players got to the locker room. As it started to die down, the Tigers came back on the field, headed for the south goal and amid the din looked around for a football, an opposing team – anything. They wanted to try for the 21st point.
Nothing happened for a couple of minutes and back they went for the usual post-game prayer and then much more celebrating. Those who had been in the conflict viewed by 21,384 fans grew more tired. Those who watched from the sidelines worked up more than a sweat. They really whopped it up.
* * *
THE CELEBRATION was reminiscent of a blast following a state championship victory over arch-rival McKinley.
Out on the field and then in the officials’ room, Warren Coach Gene Slaugher, some of his assistants and a few fans, were showing their ire.
Their argument kept things around the big place humming long after most fans were homeward bound. They claimed that Massillon got an “extra minute” in the late stages of the battle.
They argued that the scoreboard timepiece after reaching the minute mark in the final period, showed 1:59 to go.
There was 2:35 remaining when Massillon got possession of the ball the last time. Time was out at 1:29 after a first down pass was incomplete and fourth down was coming up. After a pass from Halfback Gene Stewart to Halfback Ivory Benjamin made connections, they had to measure for a first down. Time was out at 1:09. The Tigers got the stick mover by a couple inches and here is what happened after that:
* * *
QUARTERBACK BOB GETZ threw a screen pass to Roger Reese, who was in at fullback. The ball was partially deflected by a Warren player but Reese caught the ball as he was falling. It was a six-yard loss back to the 44. At 0:40 Getz hit Childers on a seven-yard gainer.
Stewart passed again with the effort intended for end Ronnie Williams on about the 10. Three Panthers outfought Williams for the grab and the scoreboard read “0:04.”
Childers made the sensational catch and touchdown and just about everybody in the house went off their “rocker.”
Slaughter and others talked the situation over with the officials and Massillon coaches. It was brought out that through a quirk on the part of the scoreboard the figure one flashed back one while the last 59 seconds were ticking off.
However, the “one” was not showing with 40 and four seconds remaining.
Slaughter was a gentleman through it all. After being assured that it is impossible to set the time back, he asserted that he was not disputing “the honesty of anybody.”
When he first took up the argument he said he planned to lodge a protest regarding the matter. Later he iterated his statement, saying he was going to call H.W. Emswiler, commissioner of Ohio high school athletics, this morning.
* * *
LONG AFTER most fans were on their way home, Tiger Faculty Manager Roger Price manned the operating system for the scoreboard.
The time piece was started twice.
Instead of reading 0:59 the first time, the figure one flashed one and a minute and 59 seconds ticked off. But on the second test, everything went normal. After the board showed 1:00 it read 0:59, 0:58, and so on.
A mechanical malfunction.
Apparently Slaughter saw the light but still wasn’t entirely satisfied. The young,
good-natured mentor whose team lost a heart-breaker, laughed and remarked, “You’d
better get that thing fixed” as he turned and headed for the Warren team bus.
* * *
AFTER COACH Tressel, who was in bed all day Friday, (the flu bug is catching up to him) caught a second breath he commented:
“We were real good the first half and they were good the second half. They have a real good team. They moved the ball that second half. Our offense bogged down.”
“I thought our tackling was good all night. I guess the boys had the desire.”
He might have added that the Tigers appeared to be a tired bunch the last quarter. They were hitting hard – and getting hit hard.
While the offense shined the first half, it was the Orange and Black defense which came in for a giant bouquet the last two periods.
Late in the second period the local hustlers stopped a Panther bid at the nine. After Warren tied the score in the last stanza, the defensive units of both sides took charge.
After Tackle John Pietela’s placement made it 14-14 with 10 minutes and 20 seconds remaining, each team had the ball three series before the Tigers got it a fourth and
Until Massillon gained possession the last time, neither team made a first down. All three times each was forced to punt.
With four minutes left, some fans sent up a howl as the Tigers punted from their own 40. It was fourth and one and apparently they were worrying about the time.
* * *
WARREN HAD to kick from its 39 and Benjamin returned from his 29 to the 38. Ivory and Jerry Allen made a first down at the Panther 48 before Sparma, with his pass receivers covered, was felled for a nine-yard loss. However, Benjamin zipped for nine on a
cross-buck and the Tigers still were in business.
With 1:40 left Stewart’s pass to Childers was too hot to handle but Benjamin took a throw from Stewart for 10 yards and the first down that set the stage for the big developments which gave the Tigers their fifth triumph in six starts.
The win surely will hike Massillon’s stock in the state grid polls. Undoubtedly, Cleveland Benedictine, which has been second after topping Massillon, will move into the No. 1 slot next week.
The championship race could turn out to be a lulu. Much will hinge on the Tigers’ remaining games with Barberton (there next Friday), Akron Garfield (here Nov. 8) and McKinley (at Fawcett stadium Nov. 16).
Massillon fans, used to seeing their team get behind in the first half, were gratified with last night’s early developments that gave the Orangemen the jump.
Warren received and after making two first downs, was forced to punt. The Tigers, for the first time this season, put on a punt rush and Bob Sims, Warren’s main threat in the ball carrying department, was forced to hurry his kick from the Panther 34.
* * *
THE PIGSKIN sailed out of bounds at the Warren 47 and the Tigers clicked on all cylinders. After Benjamin gained three, they pulled off a running pass good for 19 yards with Stewart doing the tossing and Benjamin the catching.
Benjamin, Stewart, Chuck Beiter, (who was slowed up by a pulled leg muscle) and Corky Pledgure carved out two first downs to plant the ball on the four.
From that point Benjamin, on a “belly” play, cracked off the right side and tallied standing up. Sparma came in and booted the PAT to make it 7-0 at 4:10.
Before the quarter was history, Massillon hit pay dirt again.
Again, Warren failed to get a first down after the kickoff and again Sims was hurried on a punting situation from the 29. This time the ball went out of bounds at the 42.
Benjamin got five, then came back on a smash through the middle for seven. A pass was incomplete and Benjamin made only one but on third down Stewart wound up again.
His pass went into the end zone where Childers made a fine over-the-shoulder catch. Hase McKey came in this time for the placement. He made it 14-0 at 1:48 and the joint was really jumping.
* * *
IN THE SECOND period the invading outfit, which had won its first six games, never threatened. The Tresselmen threw them for losses amounting to 25 yards.
But the Tigers did no damage as the Panther defense tightened and allowed only two first downs.
Massillon had to punt after Fullback Scott Kanney ripped for 11 as the third period got under way and Childers kicked dead at the Warren 30.
Warren went all the way with the pile-driving Sims featuring runs of 17 and 27 yards. Sub Halfback Larry Dotson scored from the four on a double reverse. He just made it past the final stripe on the fourth and four set-up. Pietela converted at 6:01.
Massillon received, had to punt, and the boot by Childers was grounded at the Warren 38.
On the last 10 plays the Panthers advanced to the Tiger 24 with the big gainer being a
10-yard pass play, Quarterback Joe Malone to Sims.
* * *
ON THE FIRST play of the last panel Dotson picked up five. Malone passed to Sims who fought his way to the seven. Halfback Bill Miller, who had a tough time shaking loose all night, swept the left side for five before hitting center for the touchdown at 10:20. Pietela’s perfect placement knotted the count and put everybody on pins and needles.
The statistics showed the closeness of the rip-snorter. Warren had 12 first downs, Massillon made 11. By rushing the Panthers gained 199 yards, the Tigers 145. Warren completed four of nine passes for 40 yards and the Tigers hit on seven of 16 for 108 yards.
Stewart completed three for 58 yards and on TD, Getz had two-for-two for 13 and Sparma got one only one pass – but you know what happened.
Benjamin, with 58 yards, was the leading ground gainer for the Bengals. Not to be overlooked were some timely jaunts by Beiter (who did not practice all week), Allen, Pledgure, Stewart and Kanney.
ENDS – Childers, Snavely, Zorn, Hagan, A. Pierce, Mitchell, Dean.
TACKLES – Slabaugh, A .Slicker, Halter, Donat, Bronwlee, Bordner, Karrenbauer.
GUARDS – Heine, Heimann, McKey, Bendar, J. Kasunick, Cook.
CENTERS – Swartz, Williamson.
QUARTERBACKS – Getz, Anthony, Sparma.
HALFBACKS – Benjamin, Stewart, Allen Snively, Pledgure, Clark.
FULLBACKS – Beiter, Kanney, Reese.
ENDS – Apple, Smith, F. Romig, Fowler.
TACKLES – Pietela, Rudolph, Johnson, Tutich.
GUARDS – Hammercheck, Thompson, Rieser, Windle.
CENTERS – Perfetti, Maggiano.
QUARTERBACKS – Malone, Brown.
HALFBACKS – Szuch, Miller, Jones, Dotson, DeCavitch, Warfield.
FULLBACK – Sims.
Score by quarters:
Massillon 14 0 0 6 20
Warren 0 0 7 7 14
Touchdowns – Benjamin, Childers (2).
Extra points – McKey, Sparma.
First downs, rushing 6 10
First downs, passing 4 2
First downs, penalties 1 0
First downs, total 11 12
Yards gained, running plays 145 204
Yards lost, running plays 20 26
Net yardage running plays 125 178
Passes attempted 16 9
Passes completed 7 4
Passes had intercepted 0 0
Yards gained, passing 106 40
Total yardage 233 218
Number of punts 6 6
Total yardage on punts 218 157
Average length of punts 27.2 26.1
Number of penalties 0 3
Yards lost on penalties 0 35
Number of fumbles 2 1
Own fumbles recovered 1 1
Ball lost on fumbles 1 0