NICE RING TO IT Victoery Bell chimes For Tigers after 125th meeting with archrival
By Chris Easterling Independent Sports Editor
MASSILLON It was familiar territory for Massillon at halftime of the 125th game against McKinley on Saturday afternoon at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. The Tigers were sitting with a lead – a 10-point one, in this case – with a chance to secure the win.
Twice before, though, that halftime lead dissolved into losses. The memory of those games was a big reason why Massillon’s seniors were doing something they had done before at the end of the game as well: ringing the Victory Bell after beating the Bulldogs.
“We had yet to play a strong four quarters of football,” senior running back J.D. Crabtree said after Massillon’s 31-21 win over McKinley. “We really stressed that this week. We stressed that in the locker room at halftime that we can’t come out flat. We’ve been in this situation before; we’ve been up. We have to come out and do our jobs. We came out fired up, and we did what we were supposed to.”
What Massillon did was post its fourth consecutive win in the series against the Bulldogs, including its third straight regular-season win. The win improved the Tigers to 7-3 and sent them packing for Perrysburg to meet the 10-0 Yellow Jackets in a Division II Region 4 quarterfinal Friday night.
While the playoff berth was secured long before kickoff – only the opponent, – Perrysburg or Nordonia was up in the air – Massillon came out looking like a team trying to pull out all the stops on its rivals. The Tigers recovered an onside kick to start the game, although that ended up in a missed 51-yard field goal.
That proved to be the only time Massillon would get inside the McKinley 40 and not put points on the board. The Tigers’ second possession ended with Crabtree scoring the first of his four touchdowns on the day, a 5-yard run with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
McKinley pulled even with Massillon only once after that point. The Bulldogs tied the game at 7-7 on a 3-yard Eric Glover-Williams run with 9:06 left in the half.
Massillon scored on two of its final three possessions of the half, though, to take a 17-7 halftime lead. Crabtree’s 1-yard plunge and Andrew David’s 41-yard field goal with 1 second left in the half provided the Tiger margin.
“We just needed to play our game,” senior running back/linebacker Danny Robinson, whose fourth-down run with less than 40 seconds left picked up the game-clinching first down. “We came in at halftime and everybody knew we were the better team in that locker room. We just needed come out and execute and stop them.”
Massillon grabbed a 24-7 lead on Crabtree’s third score, a 16-yard run just 2:15 into the second half. It was part of the senior’s 34-carry, 131-yard performance.
“The Massillon people would say that’s the J.D. Crabtree they know,” Tigers coach Jason Hall said.
McKinley, though, had a little life left in it. A Lee Hurst-to-Bryce Short touchdown pass in the third quarter, followed by a Hurst quarterback plunge pulled the Bulldogs within 24-21 – after a Glover-Williams-to-Short two-point conversion – with 10:43 remaining.
Both were set up by special-teams plays. A 22-yard fake-punt run by Devion Jenkins helped keep the former scoring drive alive, while the latter was set up by a muffed punt by Massillon at its own 30.
Massillon, though, wouldn’t let another double-digit lead slip by it as it did against Austintown Fitch in Week 6. With a little help from a pair of McKinley penalties, the Tigers marched down the field on their next possession to punch in the insurance score on Crabtree’s fourth score of the day with 9:35 remaining.
“I think we’ve learned from (Fitch) when we had that lead and we lost it,” Tiger senior tackle Devin Williams said. “There’s no point in the game where you should be flustered. … No matter what the score is, whether we’re up, down, it’s always the same.”
Which is why Massillon’s seniors got the oh-so-familiar experience of ringing the Victory Bell again Saturday afternoon.
Massillon’s loss to Warren puts team in must‑win mode
By CHRIS EASTERLING Chris.Easterling@lndeOnline.com
The math is pretty simple for the Massillon Tigers. If they have hopes of playing in the postseason for the second straight year, the Tigers have to put back‑to‑back wins together in their final two games.
No other options remain for Massillon, not after it suffered its fourth loss in the last five games, this one a 21‑16 setback to Warren Harding on Saturday night in front of about 10,000 at Mollenkopf Stadium.
The loss drops the Tigers back to the .500 mark at 4-4, with only Cincinnati Western Hills this Saturday and the Oct. 28 showdown with McKinley left on the 2006 regular‑season schedule. Not that Tiger coach Tom Stacy is looking any farther than this Saturday’s home game with Western Hills.
“We’ve got to win our last two games,” Stacy said outside a quiet Tiger locker room Saturday. “But our kids want to win every game. When you’re at Massillon, you strive to win every game.
“We didn’t go into this week (leading up to the Harding game) thinking we needed to win two out of three, or one out of three to make the playoffs or whatever. We don’t even talk about that. We’re out there to win every game. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done.”
Those looking for the Tigers’ season in a nutshell needed to look no farther than Saturday’s game. Especially on offense, where Massillon racked up 258 yards, but had three turnovers, two of which the Raiders returned for back‑breaking touchdowns.
The opportunity was there for the Tigers, despite falling down 21‑10 at halftime, to win the game. Massillon, which cut it to 21‑16 on a Trey Miller fourth‑quarter touchdown catch, had the ball on the Raider 24 with just over 3:00 remaining.
But a fourth‑down pass to the end zone sailed out of the reach of the intended receiver’s outstretched arms, sealing the Tigers’ fate.
“We’re making too many turnovers, obviously,” Stacy said. “We’re not making a key play and a key point in the game when we need it. That’s what’s hurting us right now. We went through all those turnovers in the first half; all that horsecrap, and still we have an opportunity to win the football game. We’re just not making the play at the end of the game to win the game.”
As valiant as the Tigers’ comeback try was, it wasn’t enough to erase the damage inflicted by the turnovers. More specifically, the two turnovers which Harding returned for scores.
The first, a 49‑yard interception return by Harding’s Sidney Glover, gave the Raiders the lead for good at 14‑10 with 6:08 left until halftime. The second, a 65‑yard fumble return by Lazarus McCrae, capped Harding’s 21‑point second quarter and gave the Raiders a 21‑10 edge with 3:37 remaining until the band show.
“I think it pretty much can be summed up by no turnovers for the Raiders and some turnovers for the Tigers,” said Harding coach Thom McDaniels, whose team is now 6‑2. “I’m certain that’s the difference in the ball game.”
Those turnovers and the Tigers’ inability to get that big play to turn the momentum have marred their four losses. Against Harding, Massillon had more yards’ more first downs and a better third‑down conversion percentage than the Raiders. The Tigers reached at least the Harding 38 on seven different occasions, only to get 16 points out of it.
“It’s not any one thing,” Stacy said. “We’ll make some plays and get a couple of key first downs, and then somebody will break down, and then another part of our game breaks down. We just take turns. That’s what’s frustrating about it. … We just have to make more plays on offense. That’s all there is to it.”
Adding to the frustration was the defensive effort which the Tigers turned in was good enough to win the game. Harding only mustered 126 yards of offense and just eight first downs for the game.
Massillon knew coming in the threat posed by Harding’s Ohio State‑bound tailback Danny Herron, and adjusted their defensive look accordingly. The Tigers rolled outside linebacker Dorie Irvin up to the line of scrimmage to provide a fourman front to aid in stopping Herron.
It worked, as Herron was held to just 75 yards on 30 carries, In fact, the 5‑foot‑11, 193‑pound senior’s longest run of the night was a 9‑yard scamper in the third quarter.
“We gave them a different defense, a little bit different look than what they have seen,” Stacy said. “Like I said, our defensive coaches just did an outstanding job of game‑planning. I thought our kids defensively just played great.
“It’s a great defensive effort. Herron has to be one of the top running backs in the state, a great back. Their offensive line does a great job. I thought our kids just did a great job on defense.”
Warren Harding 21
Massillon 7 3 0 6 16
Warren Harding 0 21 0 0 21
M ‑ Brian Gamble 2 pass from Bobby Huth (Steve Schott kick)
The Massillon Tigers were not about to take the 2-5 Warren Harding Raiders lightly in front of an estimated 10,000 fans at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Friday night.
After all, Warren had won all four meetings with Massillon since this heated gridiron rivalry was renewed back in 2002.
The undefeated and No. 3 ranked Tigers got on the scoreboard first by turning a blocked punt into a touchdown and played with verve and direction until the final whistle in gaining a 13-0 victory over the Trumbull County entry.
‘This Massillon team plays with so much heart and so much passion and so much effort,” said Warren coach Thom McDaniels. “We played talented teams before and this Massillon team has its share of talent.”
“I love the way this Tiger football team plays. I LOVE the way they play. You’re supposed the play the game like that and they do that.”
The first half was close-to-the-vest football as both teams seemed to be waiting for the other to make a game-changing mistake.
Warren was the first to blink.
When a 48-yard field goal attempt by Massillon was short, the Raiders began on their own 20 after the touchback.
Twice during the series, Tiger outside linebacker Quentin Paulik made huge plays. On first down, Paulik swooped in and took Warren running back Danny Herron down for a five-yard loss on a toss sweep.
One play later, Warren tried a similar play and again Paulik was there to corral Herron for a yard loss, forcing the Raiders to punt.
Herron, who handles the punting chores for Warren, took the snap in the end zone but Tiger junior Andrew Dailey came from the left side of the Massillon line to block the kick. Brian Gamble recovered at the 3-yard line and stepped into the end zone for a Massillon touchdown.
Steve Schott drilled the point after and the Tigers led 7-0 at 5:31 of the second quarter.
Massillon returned the favor, or at least nearly so, just over four minutes later when the Tigers threw an interception near midfield. Warren’s Chris Rucker made the pick then picked his way down to the Massillon 9-yard line.
But the Massillon defense sensed the urgency of the situation and stopped two Herron running plays and a short pass to Herron for a total of six yards. An 18-yard field goal attempt on fourth-and-goal from the 3 was no good when it hit the left upright and Massillon carried a 7-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Massillon, so productive on offensive early in the game in its first seven contests this season, was held to just 46 total yards in the first half.
Warren didn’t do much better, piling up 71 total yards in the first half, 66 of which were by Herron. The Raiders dominated time of possession the first two quarters, 16:31-7:29.
Paulik came up huge in the second half as well. With Massillon leading 13-0 in the fourth quarter, Warren had to score to get back in the game. The Raiders drove from their 32 to the Tiger 9. On second-and-6, Warren quarterback Sidney Glover handed the ball to speedy wideout Jay Provitt on a reverse.
There was one Tiger between Provitt and a potential touchdown. It was Paulik and the senior outside linebacker made the tackle for an 11-yard loss that essentially derailed the Warren scoring drive.
“I saw the whole play happen,” Paulik said. “I saw the fake to the tailback and I just saw (Provitt) coming around and I just stayed home.”
“The defense played good and the offense knows we’ve got their back when they don’t perform as well as they can.”
McDaniels says he got what he wanted on the play.
“We got the ball in the hands of the kid who finished sixth in the state of Ohio in the 100-yard dash,” he said. “We got the wide side of the field and we’re going to ask our guy to make a play. (Paulik) made a better one than our kid did.”
That, says Tiger coach Tom Stacy, is because Paulik is finally getting over a badly injured shoulder suffered in Week Two.
“He’s a good athlete and he is finally used to a new position,” Stacy said. “Quentin played a great football game. That was his best game of the year and we needed it. With their perimeter run game we needed our outside backers to play well.”
Massillon’s second touchdown of the game was keyed by a perfectly executed slip screen from Bobby Huth to Gamble. The play covered 31 yards, moving the ball to the Warren 17.
“You got to think about players, not plays, in critical situations,” McDaniels said. “They got the ball to a big-play guy in a good situation. They executed it well and got them a big chunk of yardage on that drive.”
The Tiger junior tailback carried it in from eight yards out two plays later with 9:51 to go in the game.
Warren would threaten again but the Massillon defense, keyed by Paulik’s fine play, kept the Raiders out of the end zone and secured win No. 8 for the Tigers.
“Make no mistake, we knew it was going to be a grudge match,” Stacy said. “We prepared our kids for it. We got what we expected.”
Massillon playing for .500 season against rival after familiar nemesis dashes its playoff hopes
INDE STAFF REPORT
In their stirring 15-12 double overtime loss to Warren Harding at Mollenkopf Stadium on Saturday, the Massillon Tigers got a large dose of stellar Raider playmaker Mario Manningham, who scored both Warren touchdowns.
The Tigers, 4-5 on the season and with no chance to reach the playoffs, now have to brace for another of Ohio’s best all-purpose players in Ryan Brinson when the McKinley Bulldogs invade Paul Brown Tiger Stadium this coming Saturday for a 2 p.m. kickoff.
Manningham and Brinson are two different players with similar but not identical skill sets. However, Warren and McKinley each utilize their respective superstar at a variety of positions, and get the football in their hands in a variety of ways.
The Tiger defense, which was outstanding in limiting Warren to 223 yards of total offense and holding Manningham to 89 all-purpose yards, saw the Raiders use the 6-foot 178-pound senior as a kick and punt returner, as a wide receiver, on the halfback option pass and, finally, as a running back.
It was in the latter role that the University of Michigan-bound All-Ohioan ultimately did the Tigers in, scoring on a 20-yard off-tackle touchdown scamper on Warren’s first snap of the second overtime after MassilIon had taken a 12-9 lead on Steve Schott’s 21 yard field goal. McKinley was just as dependent on Brinson in defeating North Canton on Saturday night at Fawcett Stadium. The Bulldog senior scored on runs of 29 and 9 yards, and caught touchdown passes of 51 and 29 yards, finishing with 244 all-purpose yards against the Viking defense.
Brinson is within striking distance of McKinley’s single-season rushing record and would like nothing more than to achieve that mark against rival Massillon.
The Tigers, on the other hand, were stung by some of Brinson’s post-game comments following last year’s humbling season-ending setback at the hands of the Bulldogs and will likely make him the object of their displeasure when the teams meet for the 112th time on Saturday.
Massillon came oh so close to carrying a two-game winning streak and immeasurable momentum into the McKinley game, jumping out to a 6-0 lead over Warren and carrying a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter on a drizzly autumn evening.
The Tigers dominated first-half play, and scored on their third possession of the game when Quentin Paulik hit Wayne Gates with a six yard touchdown pass in the waning moments of the first quarter.
The score was set up by a clutch 11-yard pass reception by Brett Huffman on a third-and-10 play.
An interception gave Warren the short field late in the half and the Raiders tallied on a 25-yard Omar Omar field goal with less than 90 seconds to play in the second quarter to make it 6-3 at halftime.
Massillon forced Warren to punt on its first two possessions of the second half but the Raiders got something going on their third try, marching from their 27 to the Tiger 5 on six plays. On second and goal, Warren’s Roger Matlock lofted a pass into the end zone and Manningham (who else?) outfought tight coverage for the catch and a 9-6 Warren lead at 11:05 of the fourth quarter.
Massillon then sustained a 13-play drive, eating up half of the fourth quarter clock in the process. But an illegal procedure penalty after a time out transformed a third- and-5 into third-and-10, and when the Tigers failed to convert, Schott tied the game up at 9-9 with a 32-yard field goal.
Despite a questionable penalty that gave Warren new life near midfield, Massillon would not relent in the game’s final minutes, blocking the Raiders’ 30-yard field goal attempt with two seconds to play in regulation.
Both teams missed field goals in the first overtime before Manningham’s heroics closed out the Tigers.
Statistics can be deceiving but in this case the numbers reflect the close game. Massillon out gained Warren in total offense 226-223 and in rushing yardage 108-90. The Raiders had a 133-118 yardage edge in the passing game.
Tiger special teams held Manningham and his cohorts in check as Warren managed just 26 return yards.
But Warren got all the better of it. when the yellow flags began to fly. The Tigers compiled 77 penalty yards to their hosts’ 26.
Massillon 6 0 0 3 0 3 – 12
Warren 0 3 0 6 0 6 – 15
M – Gates 6 pass from Paulik (Kick failed)
H – Omar 25 field goal
H – Manningham 5 pass from Matlock (Kick failed)
M – Schott 32 field goal
M – Schott 21 field goal
H – Manningham 20 run
Massillon: Morris 11-55, Robinson 11-43, Kelly 11 -33.
Shepas still sees progress and promise in Massillon Tigers’ ferocity in defeat to Warren Harding has coach proud, excited
By JOE SHAHEEN Joe.Shaheen @ IndeOnline.Com
You don’t want to be in the midst of a four-game losing streak as you prepare to play your biggest rival, but that’s the scenario facing the Massillon Tigers this week with five days until they face off with Canton McKinley for the 111th time this Saturday at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
The scoreboard at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday night past displayed the bottom line: Warren Harding 31, Massillon 15.
What it didn’t reflect was how hard the Tigers battled against the No. 3 team in the nation, sending the Raiders back to Warren with injuries to quarterback Alex Engram (Left shoulder), running back Delbert Ferguson (broken right leg), running back Richard David (ankle) and starting split end Peter Sparks.
The Tigers, meanwhile, come into McKinley Week with more to play for than pride and a win over their longtime rivals.
“Believe it or not there is still an outside shot to make the playoff,” Tiger head coach Rick Shepas revealed. “Believe it or not, there is (a chance to get in.) Mathematically some things have to happen but they happened for us last year and we made a run.”
The Tigers are also much more confident about their quarterback position than a week ago. Sophomore Quentin Paulik connected on 23 of 42 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns against one of Ohio’s elite high school football teams.
“Quentin Paulik showed a lot of poise in the pocket,” observed Shepas. “Early on he had a couple of balls get tipped but I think he will learn from it. He’s one week better from last week.
“I thought it was a nice changeup with what we did with Steve Hymes, not to knock him up too much, get him an extra week of rest but still have him on the field.”
Warren Harding head coach Thom McDaniels, a high school and college quarterback himself who takes a great deal of pride in coaching that position, thinks the Tigers may have another rgood one in Paulik.
“We’re going to try to pressure a guy like Paulik who is inexperienced to find out whether or not he can handle that kind of pressure,” McDaniels said. “He more than met the test because he did some good things, his receivers did some good things, and they generated some offense. We just were able to get some turnovers.”
Ah, yes. The turnovers. Massillon gave up six, including five interceptions, continuing a troubling trend that began with St. Edward and continued with Dayton Chaminade-Julienne and was evident against Warren Harding. In that three-game span, the Tigers have turned the ball over 20 times.
Shepas pointed out not all of the turnovers against Warren are on his quarterback.
“We’ve got to catch the ball too,” he said. “some of the turnovers we had were from tipped passes. I thought (Paulik) came out and played well.”
“We started getting back into our style of offense a little bit with Quentin. You see, you need to throw the ball to keep people off balance.”
That’s exactly what the Tigers did on their first possession of the night against Warren. Trailing 7-0 following a nine play, 72-yard opening march by the Raiders, Massillon went back to the ‘pass first, ask questions later’ attack that has been so successful during the Shepas era.
On the Tigers first play from scrimmage beginning at their own 20, Paulik meshed with junior tight end Wayne Gates on short slant over the middle that became a 45-yard gain. Then the sophomore found Ryan Schindler for eight yards, and one play later hit Gates in full stride for an 18-yard touchdown.
Zach Smith’s extra point made it a 7-7 game with 6:16 to play in the first quarter.
“We had them reeling a little bit,“ Shepas said. “We put together one of our best drives of the season early on in the game. It made it exciting for awhile. We’re going to be better from this schedule.”
Warren retaliated with a 35-yard field goal to make it 10-7.
But what sent Massillon sliding down that slippery slope was an interception just three plays into its ensuing possession, giving Warren the ball at the Tiger 46.
Three plays later, Engram hit Sparks on a 10-yard slant and the senior wideout turned on the jets for a 36-yard touchdown. The PAT made it a 17-7 game with most of the second quarter still to be played.
The Massillon defense forced Warren to punt on its next two possession but a Tiger fumble inside their own 20-yard line at the outset of the second half gave Engram and Sparks an opportunity to reprise their touchdown connection and the Raiders were up 24-7.
Warren’s next four possessions ended with a punt, a blocked field goal, and two Engram fumbles as the Tiger defense scrapped and clawed.
“I’m really proud of the way our kids played,” Shepas said. “I’m proud of the way they practiced after the three losses we had coming into this game and playing the No.2 team in the state and No 3 in the country. Plenty of teams could have turned tail and run from that but I don’t think our kids did.”
“We tried to utilize our guys to the best of their ability. I’m excited about it. I’ve always been excited about our kids. I’m happy with the way we played. We’re playing this schedule for a reason and it’s going to pay off for us.”
An Engram to Jonte Stroud touchdown pass made it 31-7 Warren with six minutes to play.
Massillon answered with a 40-yard Paulik to Billy Relford scoring aerial and Relford’s two-point conversion run to cut the Tigers deficit to two touchdowns and two two-point conversations. The ensuing onside kick, though was recovered by Warren, sealing Massillon’s fate.
SCORING W – David 1 run (Spain kick) M – Wayne Gates 18 pass from Quentin Paulik (Zach Smith kick) W – Spain 35 FG W – Sparks 36 pass from Engram (Spain kick) W – Sparks 7 pass from Engram (Spain kick) W – Stroud 30 pass from Engram (Spain kick) M – Billy Relford 40 pass from Quentin Paulik (Relford run)
Tigers come so close Massillon loses in overtime on wide point‑after
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
High school sports can be a cruel, unforgiving endeavor, especially in the win‑or‑go‑home scenario of the playoffs. It is a fact of life to which the Massillon Tigers can attest today.
The Tigers fell to the Warren Harding Raiders 21‑20 in overtime at the Rubber Bowl in a Division I state semifinal game in front of an estimated 22,000 fans Saturday, and, they did so in heart‑rending fashion. The margin of victory ‑ a missed point after touchdown.
“There’s not a whole lot I can say to our kids right now,” Tiger coach Rick Shepas said amid a pack of reporters after the game. “They’ve got to learn from this kind of adversity.
“Sometimes you fall short but it doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard. It doesn’t mean the kids haven’t played hard.”
No one who watched this classic confrontation between two of Ohio’s traditional high school football powers could possibly say such a thing. The painful emotions of the gut‑wrenching defeat were etched on the faces of every player wearing the orange uniform and black helmet of the Tigers.
Shepas vowed in the days before the game his charges would leave everything on the field. They did that and more, and yet fate seemed to conspire to prevent this proud team from reaching the goal for which they have worked so hard for the past 11 months.
Even Warren Harding coach Thom McDaniels seemed reluctant to accept the victory the way the contest ended. “It was a classic,” said the former McKinley mentor. “It shouldn’t have ended that way.” Certainly, McDaniels could sympathize. His son missed a point after touchdown kick in the 100th Massillon‑McKinley game that cost the Bulldogs a one point overtime defeat.
The missed extra point, which sailed wide left, was eerily reminiscent of the Tigers’ 14‑13 defeat in the playoffs to St. Ignatius in 1991 when a Massillon extra point glanced off the goal post upright and fell away.
The defeat ends the Tiger season at 11‑3 and also spells the final chapter in what has to be considered one of the greatest defensive teams Massillon has ever produced in its proud gridiron history.
“This result doesn’t speak for the way our defense played the whole game,” Shepas said. “I want our defense to be remembered for the outstanding team they are. They are outstanding.” It seemed Massillon might be bound for the state championship game when Ricky Johnson bolted around left end for a six‑yard touchdown with 1:11 to play, capping off a well‑conceived 12‑play, 62‑yard drive that featured several fine runs by Steve Hymes out of a WingT look the Tigers hadn’t deployed the entire game. Max Shafer’s point after was true and the Tigers led 14‑7.
What happened next must have seemed like a bad dream that just repeats itself over and over as Warren’s Mario Manningham returned the ensuing kickof f to midfield, giving the Raiders hope for overtime. It was Manningham’s two kick returns for touchdowns that helped Warren defeat Massillon 31‑27 in a week nine game at Warren.
And, befitting their regular season state poll champion status, the Raiders took advantage as Mike Kokal hit Treymayne Warfield with a 17‑yard touchdown pass with :17 on the clock. Joe Spain’s point after was good and the game went into overtime at 14‑14.
“We had a chance there at the end, but we just didn’t hang on,” Shepas said.
Warren tallied first in overtime but only after recovering its own fumble at the goal line. Kokal scored on the next snap after that miscue from a yard away. Spain’s conversion kick was good and the Raiders were up 21‑14.
Johnson gained 10 yards around left end on Massillon’s first play of overtime. Two plays later, Matt Martin made a clutch throw on third and goal to A.J. Collins in the right edge of the end zone and it was 21‑20.
On the fateful extra point, with the wind, blowing left to right, the football sailed left of the left upright to bring the game to an end.
“Our fans were great,” Shepas said just before leading his team to the locker room. “They stayed in the stadium. I’d like our fans to learn to be a little bit more positive with our kids all the time, which they’ve been. “We’ll keep going forward.”
Warren Harding drew first blood in a familiar fashion, converting a lengthy punt return into a touchdown.
Taking the opening kickoff, Massillon moved from its 20 to the Warren 37 on a short Martin to Relford pass that the play‑making junior transformed into a 52‑yard gain. The Tigers had an opportunity to get inside the Raider 20 but a dropped pass foiled the play and they were forced to punt.
Thaddeus Walker fielded Shafer’s punt at the Warren 12, found a seam and didn’t stop running until he was pulled down 54 yards later at the Massillon 36.
Three consecutive carries by Warren running back Richard Davis and a facemask penalty on the Massillon defense advanced the ball to the Tiger 11. Four plays later, Stephon Alexander appeared to be stopped on fourth‑and‑goal from the one but the line judge ruled he broke the plane of the end zone and signaled touchdown Warren. Spain added the point after and Warren Harding was up 7‑0 at 5:23 of the first quarter.
Massillon’s scoring drive began at 9:17 of the second quarter at the Tiger 20 yardline after Relford picked off a Warren pass in the end zone.
But the real story of the initial 24 minutes of play was the yellow blizzard of flags falling from the sky. In all, game officials penalized the two state semifinalists 13 times for 85 yards in the first half. Nine of the flags went against Massillon, costing the Tigers 55 yards.
Martin’s screen pass to Johnson picked up 13 yards. One play later, Martin found Johnson running alone down the right sideline for a 30‑yard completion to the Warren 36. An interference penalty against Warren pushed the ball to the Raider 21. A couple of five‑yard penalties pushed it back to the 31 but the Tigers gained it back and more on an 18‑yard screen pass from Martin to Terrance Roddy. Martin got another first down on a keeper, then hit Collins in the left corner of the end zone for the Tigers initial score of the evening. Shafer added the extra point and it was a tie game at 7‑7 with 3:40 to go in the half.
Massillon 20 Warren 21 M W First downs rushing 4 8 First downs passing 5 7 First downs by penalty 1 0 TOTAL first downs 10 15 Net yards rushing 66 139 Net yards passing 181 125 TOTAL yards 247 264 Passes attempted 31 29 Passes completed 12 12 Passes intercepted 1 2 Punts 9 8 Punting average 34.3 33.5 Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/0 Penalties 11 5 Yards penalized 61 35
W ‑ Alexander 1 yard run (Spain kick) M ‑ Collins 9 yard pass from Martin (Shafer kick) M ‑ Johnson 6 yard run (Shafer kick) W ‑ Warfield 17 yard pass from Kokal (Spain kick) W ‑ Kokal 1 yard run (Spain kick) M ‑ Collins 11 yard pass from Martin (kick failed)
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS MassilIon rushing: Hymes 5‑42, R. Johnson 12‑21, Martin 3‑7, Roddy 4‑1. Warren rushing: Davis 19‑63, Phillips 7‑34 Kokal 5‑18, Massucci 5‑15.
Massillon can’t escape Warren with a win Fourth‑quarter lead slips away for Tigers in tough 31‑27 loss
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
In the end the Massillon Tigers undoing was a player who had caught just two passes and returned one punt all season long.
Warren Harding sophomore Mario Manningham returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the first half, and caught two touchdown passes in the second half ‑ the second one with just :49 left to play ‑ to spark the undefeated and No.1 ranked Raiders to a heart‑pounding 31‑27 victory over the Tigers in front of 11,500 at Mollenkopf Stadium Saturday.
Warren coach Thom McDaniels, who is now 12‑5 all‑time against the Tigers, admitted Manningham’s performance caught him by surprise. “Very obviously he is a very talented kid,” McDaniels said. “We’ve been bringing him along slowly. Maybe I don’t need to bring him along as slowly as I have been.”
Everything seemed to point to a Massillon win on the post‑game stat sheet. The Tigers out gained Warren 348‑202, senior running back Ricky Johnson led all rushers with 107 yards in 20 carries and quarterback Matt Martin passed for over 200 yards and three touchdowns.
But Warren Harding compiled 147 yards on three kickoff returns and 78 yards on three punt returns to more than balance the scales.
“It was all about the kicking game,” said Tiger coach Rick Shepas. “They scored two touchdowns on our defense and our offense did a great job against them scoring 27 points. “It was just about the kicking game unfortunately and that’s the way it goes.”
Massillon took a 20‑17 lead with 2:54 to go in the third quarter when Martin dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball into the hands of Devin Jordan running a post pattern for a 49‑yard touchdown.
The Tigers appeared to have Warren on the ropes when junior running back Tuffy Woods ran through a gaping hole in the middle of the Raider defensive line and went 33 yards to pay dirt at 7:29 of the fourth quarter to make it a 27‑17 ball game. Zach Smith tacked on both PATs.
“Our offensive and defensive game plans were outstanding,” Shepas said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do in a big ball game. Our kids stayed level.” After having kicked off out of bounds the previous two times to negate Warren’s return game, the final Tiger kickoff of the evening found Rob Massucci, who returned it 54 yards to the Massillon 26. “We were trying to kick the ball out of bounds but it just didn’t happen,” Shepas explained.
Warren quarterback Mike Kokal found Tremayne Warfield for 14 yards on the first snap following Massucci’s return. One play later he hit Manningham in the right corner of the end zone from 13 yards out. Joe Spain tacked on the extra point and Massillon’s lead was down to 27‑24 with 6:29 to play.
Massillon went three‑and‑out on its next possession when a third‑and‑one run was stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Warren defense.
After a 33‑yard punt, Warren set up shop at its own 35 and on first down Kokal hit Manningham over the middle for 27 yards to the Massillon 38. Five plays later, on second‑and‑three from the 12‑yard line, Kokal zipped a short pass to Manningham at the three and he squirted into the end zone to all but vanquish the Tigers 2002 playoff aspirations.
“We played hard,” remarked Tiger linebacker Shawn Crable, who made plays all over the field this night. “It’s kind of hard to lose a game like that. As hard as we played to just give up the last touchdown, it’s a bit hard to swallow.”
Asked if it just wasn’t meant to be, Shepas said, “I guess not and we’re going to have to figure out why that is. Warren Harding‑ opened the scoring in the opening seconds of the second quarter when Manningham fielded a low line drive punt at the Raider 32, cut to his left, found a seam and scooted 68 yards for a touchdown. Manningham had just one obstacle after crossing midfield, but used a juke move to buckle the potential tackler’s knees. Spain tacked on the extra point and Warren led 7‑0 at 11:45 of the second quarter.
The teams traded punts with the Tigers then taking over at their own 20 yard line with 8:12 until halftime.
On second down, Martin rolled left and found James Helscel open for a 12‑yard gain to the 35. One play later, Martin dropped a perfect 35‑yard rainbow pass into the hands of Relford at the Warren Harding 30. After two Johnson runs, Martin executed a perfect play action fake and found tight end A.J. Collins wide open at the 15. The senior tight end caught the ball and rambled untouched into the end zone. Smith’s point after kick was true and it was a 7‑7 game at 4:58 of the second quarter.
Relford got the ball right back for the Tigers with a grass‑top interception of a Kokal pass at the Massillon 44. The teams then exchanged punts with Massillon beginning its final first half possession at its own 35.
On second and 10, Martin operating out of the shotgun ‑ found Relford in one‑on‑one coverage and dropped a pass just over the defensive backs hands for a 37 yard completion to the Warren Harding28. Martin would pick up a key first down on a fourth‑and-one keeper play to the 15. On first down from there, Martin ran the same play that produced the Tigers first touchdown. Once again the play action fake freed up Collins, who pulled in Martin’s short pass and sauntered into the end zone. Smith’s kick made it 14‑7 with just :31 until the break.
But Warren Harding struck back like lightening bolt as Manningham fielded the ensuing kickoff at the Raider 18 and streaked up the middle for an 82‑yard touchdown return. Spain’s PAT made it a 14‑14 game at the band show.
Warren Harding 31 Massillon 27 M WH First downs rushing 5 2 First downs passing 7 8 First downs by penalty 0 0 TOTAL first downs 13 10 Net yards rushing 144 36 Net yards passing 204 166 TOTAL yards 348 202 Passes attempted 20 26 Passes completed 9 14 Passes intercepted 1 2 Punts 7 6 Punting average 31.6 28.0 Fumbles/Lost 0/0 0/0 Penalties 5 3 Yards penalized 29 23
Massillon 00 14 06 07 27 Warren 00 14 03 14 31
W ‑ Manningham 68 punt return (Spain kick) M ‑ Martin 27 pass to Collins (Smith kick) M ‑ Martin 15 pass to Collins (Smith kick) W ‑ Manningham 82 kick return (Spain kick) W ‑ Spain 31 field goal M ‑ Martin 49 pass to Jordan (kick failed) M ‑ Woods 33 run (Smith kick) W ‑ Phillips 13 pass to Manningham (Spain kick) W ‑ Kokal 12 pass to Manningh am (Spain kick)
Massillon rushing: Johnson 20‑106, Woods 8‑52. Warren Harding rushing: Davis 13-23.
Tigers throw scare into dogs with second-half turnaround
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
It started as if a rout was the order of the day. It ended with the Massillon Tigers giving the McKinley Bulldogs a bit of a scare before succumbing 27‑14 in the 104th meeting between the two Ohio high school football giants in front of a full house at Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium in Canton this afternoon.
The Tigers went one‑two-three punt on each of their first three possessions, while McKinley put together scoring drives of 4, 11 and 11 plays to jump to a 21‑0 lead early in the second quarter. At that point, the Bulldogs seemed very deserving of their No. 1 rating in USA Today’s national high school rankings.
But a funny thing happened to the Pups on their way to a blowout. Massillon’s outmanned Tigers, riding the grit and savvy of quarterback Tip Danzy, the hard running of fullback Dave Hodgson and a defense that wouldn’t quit when it was down, made it a game and then some.
“The kids came back and we made a few adjustments at halftime,” said Tigers coach Jack Rose. “I told them a lesser team would have thrown in the towel when it was 27‑7 at halftime and get blown out.
“There’s no quit in these young men. They carne out in the second half and played their hearts out.”
McKinley bench boss Thom McDaniels did not want to hear any talk of his team letting down after building a three touchdown lead at the intermission.
“I don’t think we let down,” he said. “I think we got a little sloppy in the second half. I think our execution diminished, but I don’t think there was any kind of a conscious letdown. We just didn’t play as well.
“The team on the other side of the field was good. Again, you have to maintain concentration and try to execute for 48 minutes. We had our lapses primarily with penalties we had some really inopportune penalties.”
The Tigers got excellent field position when Julian Miller returned the opening kickoff to the Tiger 44, but three plays and just two yards later were forced to punt. McKinley took over at its 45 after an 18 yard return by Fred Wilcox.
On third‑and‑six from the 49, Ben McDaniels found Matt Curry on a short slant pattern, and Curry did the rest, sprinting across the grain to the Tiger 26. On the next play, DeMarlo Rozier took a pitch around left end and outran the Massillon defense to the end zone. Phil Armatas’ conversion kick made it 7‑0 McKinley at 9:22 of the first period.
Once again Miller ‑ and a facemask penalty on the Pups ‑ gave the Tigers good field position at their 45. But Massillon could pick up just five yards in three snaps and were forced to punt.
Rozier got the ball on the first four snaps of McKinley’s second possession, as the Bulldogs moved from their 29 to just beyond midfield. Then McDaniels bootlegged left and hit Wilcox for 22 yards to the Tigers 26. Rozier again got the ball on four consecutive snaps, setting up second and goal at the Massillon 8. McDaniels scrambled for five yards to the 3, before Isaiah Robinson found a small hole over right guard and scored the second TD of the game.
Armatas was again true with the PAT and McKinley, led 14‑0 at 2:59 of the first quarter.
McKinley’s third touchdown drive again followed a Massillon punt and began at its 41. A third down roughing the passer penalty gave the march life at the Tigers 40. On third and four from the 34, Rozier ripped off a nine‑yard gain over left guard for a first down at the 25.
McDaniels hooked up with Curry for 11 yards to the 16 and three plays later Rozier burst through a hole over his right guard and into the end zone from seven yards out. Armatas capped off the 11play drive with the PAT at 9:33 of the second quarter to make it 21‑0 and McKinley fans were ready to party.
It looked like they’d get their chance after Massillon again couldn’t move the football and was forced to punt from its 18. But Josh Hill turned the game around by slicing through the McKinley offensive line to nail Richard Bradley for an 11‑yard loss on a sweep play. Josh Kreider forced McKinley to punt by bringing Bradley down in the open field after he snared a McDaniels third‑down pass in the flat.
“What happened defensively is we finally adapted to their speed,” explained Rose. “Initially we were taken aback a little. They have such great speed and it is difficult to simulate that in practice. Once we got in the flow a little bit, we did better.”
Massillon took over at its 27 after McKinley punted. Hodgson got the ball on four straight plays and picked up 25 yards, including 13 on a draw play that moved the ball to the McKinley 48. On third and 10, Danzy dropped back to pass, saw a seam open up in the middle, and took off for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
Then Danzy found Andy Cocklin on the right sideline for 16 yards. A late hit flag on McKinley moved the ball to the 10. After a first down play lost four yards, Danzy again dropped back and again saw the red sea of Bulldogs jerseys part. He never hesitated, sprinting 14 yards to paydirt and Massillon was on the board at 21‑7 with 2:37 left in the half.
The rejuvenated Massillon defense stopped McKinley after a couple first downs and forced the punt. But Massillon couldn’t move the football either and was forced to punt from its 24 with under :30 left in the half.
Les Thompson broke through the Tigers blocking scheme and blocked Luke Shilling’s kick. Robinson scooped up the ball at the 15 and raced to the end zone for the back breaking touchdown. A missed PAT made it 27‑7 at halftime.
“The last thing we wanted was to fall behind by three touchdowns to this team,” Rose said. “I said that earlier in the week.
“The blocked punt really hurt, but we had a couple plays there that if we would have executed them, we wouldn’t be punting. In a big game like this, you have to execute every time and we had a few plays where we didn’t get the job done.”
Massillon stuffed McKinley on the Bulldogs first possession of the second half. The Tigers then moved from their 33 to McKinley’s 30, where they faced a pivotal fourth-and‑one. But the option blew up in their face for a seven yard loss and a scoring opportunity went by the wayside.
McKinley’s next two series’ ended in a punt and a missed field goal, the latter setting the Tigers up at their own 20. After Massillon gained a first down at the 31, Hodgson raced 18 yards on a draw play and a personal foul on McKinley moved the ball into Bulldog territory at the 42. On third and seven from the 39, Danzy rolled left, then scrambled back to the right and finally found Christian Morgan over the middle for a 21‑yard gain to the 18.
Hodgson again made the Pups pay for their over‑pursuit by grinding out 12 yards on the draw to the McKinley 5. One play later, Danzy rolled left and completed a pass to Neil Buckosh in the end zone for the touchdown. Josh Hose was true with the PAT kick and it was McKinley 27, Massillon 14 with 10:37 to play.
The Massillon defense, smelling blood now, again shut down the McKinley attack on three plays to force a punt that Kreider fair caught at the Tiger 34. On third and four from the 40, Danzy and Hodgson executed the shovel pass to perfection to pick up 15 yards to the Bulldogs 45 and the locals were rolling.
Danzy dropped back to throw on second and seven. Tyrie Clifford made a twisting grab of the wounded duck at the McKinley 8 and the Bulldogs faithful were concerned.
But the Tigers failed to execute a handoff following an audible on the next snap and McKinley’s Mike Doss came up with the fumble to quell the threat and effectively secure a perfect 10‑0 regular season for the Pups.
Again the Tigers could have rolled over. There was still nearly seven minutes to play in the contest and the Bulldogs would’ve loved nothing more than to tack on another touchdown, just for celebration purposes.
But the Massillon defense stood tall and gave the offense another shot in the waning moments. Danzy was standing in the pocket still pitching at the final gun, not willing to concede anything, even in defeat.
As the Tigers trudged off the field, there was no griping from the Massillon fans. Just thank‑yous for making a game against the nation’s top ranked high school football team.
“I’ve got to give our fans a lot of credit,” Rose concluded. “They hung in there with us today the entire time. The team appreciated that and I did, too. The fans were a great help in this.”
McKinley 27, Massillon 14 Massilion McKinley First downs rushing 9 9 First downs passing 6 5 First downs by penalty 0 3 total first downs 15 17 rushing yards 146 183 passing Yards 151 134 total offense 297 317 passing attempts 31 23 completions 15 13 touchdown passes 1 0 interceptions 1 0 punts 6 6 punting average 26.3 37.5 fumbles 5 2 fumbles lost 2 0 Penalties 5 8 yards penalized 57 86
Tigers have to be resilient this week Can’t dwell defeat; Brunswick looms
By Joe Shaheen Independent Sports Editor
The McKinley Bulldogs played their best game of the 1996 regular season when it counted most in the annual Week Ten confrontation with the Massillon Tigers.
The result was a 21-0 white washing of the Tigers and a berth in the playoffs against Grove City on Saturday at Mansfield’s Arlin Stadium.
The Tigers played arguably their worst game of the ’96 regular season against the Pups.
Now it is up to Jack Rose and the Tigers to prove they can get up off the deck an prepare for the Brunswick High Blue Devils, who will provide the opposition in Massillon’s playoff opener this Saturday at the Rubber Bowl.
McKinley’s victory over Massillon, though not dominating was complete. The Bulldogs had the advantage in all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams.
The Bulldogs offense put together only one sustained scoring march all afternoon, but it came at the onset of the second half and virtually sealed the Tigers doom by expanding the deficit from 13 points to 21.
The 12 play, 84 yard drive, consumed just over seven minutes off the game clock and featured an effective play action short passing game by sophomore quarterback Ben McDaniels and was capped by Jamar Martin’s four yard touchdown run.
McKinley’s third quarter scoring drive served two purposes, it left just over one quarter of play for the Tigers to close the three touchdown deficit and it was an effective counter point to Massillon’s initial second half drive, which lasted three play and failed to produce a first down.
Massillon’s offense was bottled up for 18 minutes, as much by its own mistakes as the terrible field position forced upon it all afternoon long. The Tigers generated 110 yards of total offense, barely more than half of the Bulldogs modest total 206 yards.
The Bulldogs defense negated the Tigers massive offensive line and thus their vaunted running attack most of the day. Massillon receivers dropped at least five catchable balls and the Tigers forgot about tight end Chris Martin after he caught two passes in the first series of the game.
Although McKinley missed three field goals, the Bulldogs placement specialists boomed four kickoffs for an average of just under 58 yards per kick. The deep well placed kicks limited Massillon to an average of 10 yards per return.
The Bulldogs special teams also produced a big play on the opening kickoff when Trevor Vaught tore off a 30 yard return to midfield. While McKinley did not score on that possession, it seemed to rock the Tigers back on their heels and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
What will stand out in most fans minds was the two McKinley interceptions that set the Bulldogs offense up with first and goal inside the Tigers 5 yard line twice in the first half. Those picks led to a pare of short touchdown runs by De’Andrae Jeter.
What they may forget is McKinley’s late first half drive which nearly produce another TD (it could’ve been a lot worse) and the game long effectiveness of Ben McDaniels, who completed 9 of 13 passes (69 percent) for 143 yards against an accomplished Tiger secondary which picked off a dozen aerials this season.
If there is one comforting development for the Tiger fan who crave a state champtionship and some revenge over McKinley, it is recent history.
Twice since the playoffs were instituted in 1980, Massillon and McKinley have met in the playoffs. Both times the team that prevailed during the regular season was defeated in the playoffs.
The Tigers are hoping they will get a chance to make history repeat itself.
MCKINLEY………….. 21 MASSILLON…………… 0
M Mck First downs rushing 3 3 First downs passing 5 6 First downs penalty 0 0 Total first downs 8 9 Net yards rushing 95 75 Net yards passing 68 143 Total yards gained 110 206 Passes attempted 20 13 Passes completed 6 9 Passes int 2 0 Times kicked off 1 4 Kickoff average 40 57.8 Kickoff return yards 42 30 Punts 6 4 Punting average 33.2 33.3 Punt return yards -3 3 Fumbles 0 1 Fumbles lost 0 1 Penalties 4 2 Yards penalized 23 30 Number of plays 54 52 Time of possession 24:01 23:59
MCKINLEY 0 13 8 0 21 MASSILLON 0 0 0 0 0
SCORING SUMMARY Second Quarter Mck Jeter 1 run (Curry kick) Mck Jeter 2 run(kick failed)
Third Quarter Mck Martin 4 run (McDaniels pass to Gambler)
In a season filled with ‘nail-biters, Tiger claws wear thin vs. McKinley
By JOE SHAHEEN Independent Sports Editor
Once again, the Tigers made Massillon proud.
Trailing the favored McKinley Bulldogs 24‑7, late in the third quarter, Massillon clawed its way back into the ballgame and, was on the verge of pulling the upset.
But the storybook finish never materialized. A Tiger turnover at the Pups five‑yard line with less than a minute to play ensured a 24‑21 McKinley victory this afternoon at Fawcett Stadium.
Tigers head coach Jack Rose struggled to find the right wordsafter the game. However, his pride in the comeback his team staged was evident.
“They’ve done that all year,” Rose said, “I’m very proud of them.”
McKinley coach Thom McDaniels tipped his hat to the Tigers amidst a sea of red-and-black.
Good football teams fight back and that’s a good football team over there,” he said.
“They certainly never quit. It was a great game, I don’t think anyone left here disappointed with the show we gave them, although I’m sure the Massillon people were disappointed with the loss.”
Both teams displayed early jitters. The Tigers were intercepted on their first possession after crossing midfield. The Bulldogs penetrated inside the 30 and promptly fumbled it back.
Ater that turnover, the Tigers went three and out and punted it back to McKinley, which took over at its 28. On first down, Bulldogs tailback Adrian Brown got the‑ball on a toss sweep around left end. He broke one tackle as he turned the corner and another at the Massillon 33, before being pulled down as he hit the goal line for a 72‑yard touchdown.
Ray Currie nailed the extra point and the Pups led 7‑0 at 6:20 of the first quarter.
Brown fumbled on McKinley’s next possession late in the first quarter to set the Tigers up with first and 10 at the Bulldogs’ 20 yard line. Two Lavell Weaver runs and a George Whitfield‑to‑Brett Wiles pass set up first and goal at the nine.
Two plays later, Whitfield hit Randy Weiford at the four. On the next play, Weaver spun into the end zone on fourth‑and‑goal from the one. Josh Hose hit the PAT to tie, it at 7‑7 with 10:47 until halftime.
It wouldn’t stay that way long. McKinley moved from its 16 to the 28 after the ensuing kickoff. On second and nine at that point, Brown again got the ball on the sweep around left end and again dashed 72 yards to paydirt. The senior tailback broke a tackle at the Massillon 35 and cut back to the middle of the field to outrace the defensive pursuit.
Currie’s kick made it 14‑7 with 8:17 until halftime.
“We had it defended,” Rose said of Brown’s two long TDs on his signature play. “We just didn’t tackle. Adrian is a strong runner, a physical player. He has the ability to break tackles. But I didn’t think he’d break two long ones on us like that.”
Massillon marched with the ensuing kickoff from its 20 to the McKinley 41. But a dropped pass and a sack of Whitfield forced the Tigers to punt it away from the 50.
Neither team was able to do much until McKinley took over with 1:33 left in the half I at its own 14. A Rick Roloff‑to‑Ken Peterson pass play, a roughing the passer penalty, and a Roloff‑to‑Brown aerial moved the ball to the Massillon 30. Roloff went to Brown again three plays later and he caught a pass tipped by Massillon defensive back Eric Lightfoot. Brown rambled to the Tiger 17.
Three plays later, Currie attempted a 33‑yard field goal that was good with six seconds on the clock, to make it 17‑7 at halftime.
“The last drive of the half was a key one for them,” Rose said. .”We had them pinned way back there. They come out of there and take it the length of the field to get a field goal and now it’s 17‑7 at halftime. That hurt.”
McKinley took the second half kickoff and – aided by a fumbled punt – penetrated to the Massillon 31 before missing a long field goal.
The Tigers shot themselves in the foot again, losing a fumble on their first play to give McKinley the ball at the 27. Two snaps later, Brown found a huge seam over right guard and ran through a tackler at the five for his third touchdown of the afternoon. Currie’s kick at the 4:42 mark of the third period made it 24‑7.
Some fans began walking to the exits at that point, but the Tiger were undaunted.
They moved from their 15 to the McKinley 17, where it appeared they were stalled on a fourth and five. But Whitfield found Brett Wiles wide open over the middle and the senior tight end carried it into the end zone to make it 24‑13 with just over a minute left in the third period. The Tigers forced McKinley to punt, but turned it back over on an interception at the Massillon 37. Once again the defense rose, stopping the Pups on three plays to force a punt that rolled out of bounds at the Tigers’ 17.
On second down, Whitfield connected with Devin Williams to the 32. Two plays later, the senior QB hooked up with Nate Wonsick to the 45. Two completions to Brian Baer moved the football to the McKinley 23.
Whitfield then picked up 11 yards on an option keeper around left end. On the next play, Whitfield rolled right and found Vinny Turner wide open at the seven and Turner trotted into the end zone with 3:28 to play.
Whitfield zeroed in on Weiford on a crossing pattern for the two‑point conversion and suddenly it was a nail‑biter at 24‑21.
The Massillon defense again stuffed McKinley on its next possession and the Bulldogs punted after three snaps. Massillon took over at the Bulldogs 42 and Whitfield’s 22‑yard gain on the bootleg around left end got the ball to the 20 with 1:40 to play.
Two plays later, Whitfield meshed with Williams at the 8, where he was hit hard first from the front by Rashan Hall and then from the rear by Shauntel Lodge, forcing a fumble. Demarlo Rozier recovered for the Bulldogs and the celebration began.
McDaniels asserted the Bulldogs were not in a prevent defense on Massillon’s final two drives.
“No, but we were changing defenses on practically every play,” McDaniels said . “But it wasn’t necessarily a prevent. We were looking for them to throw the ball, but we weren’t in a prevent.
”I was concerned about George Whitfield having a career day and I think he did. He had a great game. I talked with him afterward and he can be proud of the way he played.”
Rose said the game got away from the Tigers in the first half.
“We wound up too much in the first half,” he said. “We had a lot of missed assignments. We didn’t, tackle well and (Brown) broke those two long ones on us. In the second half we played a lot better. We got settled down.
“Vinny went down with an ankle injury early and we kind of got knocked out of whack. We regrouped and made a couple of plays there.”