Massillon loses to Mentor in a shootout††by Tiger Don††9/22/07
Most Tiger fans knew that Mentor was capable of putting up some serious number with their high-powered offense, led by quarterback Bart Tanski. But few realized that Massillon would stay right with them. Only the Cardinals were just a touch better on this particular night and escaped with a 56-52 victory, one of the highest scoring games in Massillon history.
With the loss, the Tigers fall to 2-3 and must visit Cleveland St. Ignatius next week. The Wildcats were beaten by this same Mentor team, 34-17, but a Massillon loss to Ignatius would certainly cost the Tigers a spot in the post-season playoffs.
Itís been a long time since local fans showed as much vocal support as they did in this one. With the lead going back and forth it was more like a basketball game and the fans hung on every basket, I mean every touchdown. Back and forth the score went until Mentor was able to drive one in with 24 seconds remaining in the game to secure the victory.
But letís not lose sight of some unbelievable individual efforts. Devoe Torrence, who switched from wide receiver to tailback following his move to Massillon, finally came into his own, rushing 36 times for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Running inside, running outside, cutting on a dime and literally carrying defenders down the field, Torrence did it all. And donít forget about KJ Herring. The senior lugged it 13 times for 109 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run.
Mentor was led by Bart Tanski, who completed 25 of 33 yards for 299 yards and three touchdowns. But thatís nothing special. Heís been doing that all year. But the Cardinals did receive a star performance from running back To Worden, who gained 226 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Finally, both kickers put on a display. Massillonís Steve Schott found the end zone on 7 of 9 kickoffs and added a 29-yard field goal for good measure. His counterpart, Kevin Harper, blasted 5 of 9 to same region, with the other four just feet away.
Ironically, there was enough offense in the first half to constitute an entire game as Massillon ran 43 plays to Mentorís 57, with the two teams combining for 660 yards. Even the score of 35-31 looked like a final. But there was still an entire half to go.
The Tigers took the opening kickoff and drove for a 29-yard field goal by Steve Schott. But that was just a warm-up. Mentor answered immediately with a 67-yard touchdown run by Worden. The Tigers came right back with a 50-yard TD by Herring in which he swept right, broke through the pack at the 45 and outran the defense to the end zone. Then Worden scored again, this time from one yard out, to put the Cardinals up 14-10.
Although Massillon stalled at their own 36 and punted the ball away, the Mentor returnee was stripped by Dorie Irvin and JB Price scooped it up, racing 36 yards for the score. Once again Mentor answered, this time on an 8-yard pass from Tanski to Steve Orkis, his first of three TDs via the pass.
Massillon punted and Orkis scored again, this time from 15 yards out. Then Torrence went over from the nine, carrying two defenders the last five yards, followed by a Tanski 15-yard score, followed by a Torrence 1-yard dive over the pile for a TD. That made the halftime numbers 35-31 in favor of Mentor.
The defenses started to get some control in the third quarter, with each team managing to tally just once, Worden on a 2-yard run and Torrence from nine yards out. But the offenses resumed their onslaught in the fourth.
Down 42-38, the Tigers marched 79 yards in ten plays and finished the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by Torrence. With the offense getting a great push against a tiring Mentor front line, Torrence took the handoff from Chris Willoughby, cut to the outside, regained his balance after almost tripping, turned up field and used a devastating block by Giorgio Jackson, which opened a path to the end zone. The score gave the Tigers their first lead since the initial quarter, but Mentor responded 11 plays later on a 2-yard run by Tanski with 4:01 to play.
Now it was up to Massillon. They had plenty of time to pull it out and had the momentum. But it all came together too quickly. It started when the Cardinals elected to kick short and overshot the mark right into the hands of Justin Turner. Turner toted the ball all the way to midfield with a personal foul tacked on at the end, giving Massillon the ball at the Mentor 34. Thatís why you donít kick deep to the Tigers.
Torrence picked up four yards to the 30, then three to the 27 and then lost a yard. But on fourth and four, Mentor lined up offsides, giving the Tigers new life with a first down at the 23. After Torrence carried to the 21, 275 lb. fullback Steve Yoder burst through the middle of the line and literally dragged the entire secondary to the end zone. The determination in this young man was a sight to see. Steve Schottís kick was good and Massillon was on top 52-49.
Problem was, 1:52 remained on the clock, too much for a quarterback like Tanski. So he did just his thing and carried his team to victory, passing for the winning touchdown with just 24 seconds left.
After struggling for four weeks to find an offense, Massillon did just that against Mentor. It was some key changes that made it possible -- going to an unbalanced line and placing Torrence and Herring in the backfield together, often adding a fullback to the mix. And the shotgun was introduced for the fist time this year.
But the defense struggled throughout most of the game to contain both the run and the pass, although the crowd really got behind them in the third quarter when they forced some big stops. But for the most part, the scheme they utilized Ė three down linemen with an occasional blitzer -- just didnít appear to be the right scheme to stop the Mentor attack.
What a game. This one will go down as a classic, in spite of the loss. Could it be a preview of the state semifinal game? Perhaps. But first the Tigers will need to get by Ignatius, or what may be the best team in Region 2 will certainly be sitting home come November.
Schott 29 field goal
Herring 50 run (Schott kick)
Price 36 fumble recovery/return (Schott kick)
Torrence 9 run (Schott kick)
Torrence 1 run (Schott kick)
Torrence 9 run (Schott kick)
Torrence 24 run (Schott kick)
Yoder 21 run (Schott kick)
Rushing: Torrence 36-283, 4 TD; Herring 13-109, 1 TD
Passing: Willoughby 6-15-65, 0 TD, 2 int.
Receiving: Jackson 3-31