I remember the game as if it took place yesterday. In reality, it happened just about 48 years ago.
The game was played on Oct. 5, 1962. It took place at Tiger Stadium. The contest matched the 4-0 Steubenville Big Red of coach Ray Hoyman against the dreaded Massillon Tigers of coach Leo Stang.
Massillon entered at 2-2. The Tigers were beaten by Fremont Ross and Alliance, which was ranked number one in the state. Stang, who later would coach at Kent State University, and his Tigers had won four state championships prior to the 1962 season.
John Kirker, the legendary sports editor of The Herald Star, correctly predicted that thousands of Steubenville fans would make the trip to Stark County. He wrote that "a dozen chartered buses and a long motorcade was expected to follow the team." The announced crowd was 12,869; roughly 5,000 were there to support the Crimson and the Black.
Big Red supporters traveling to Tigertown that evening knew the skinny. Steubenville had not defeated Massillon in 31 years. Coach Hoyman's club, which entered the game ranked 10th in the state, was looking to pocket Big Red's first victory against the Tigers since 1931. We all were worried. The game was being played at Tiger Stadium; strange things were known to happen to visiting teams back then.
It was a chilly October evening. Our hopes for victory were deflated early as Massillon marched 82 yards in eight plays to put up the first score.
Big Red, however, would respond. With about eight minutes left in the second quarter, Harry Wilson, Steubenville's all-Ohio running back, knifed through the middle of the Massillon defense and reached the end zone. Big Red's initial attempt to knot the score at 8 failed. However, the Tigers were flagged for being offside. Senior halfback Ray Terry made them pay when he went in for the two-pointer.
Ron Mazzaferro, a two-way senior tackle for the Big Red that season, recalls his team got a big break on the Massillon possession prior to the first Steubenville score.
"Their coaches were screaming at the quarterback to take a time out," he said. "He didn't hear them and ran the play. The quarterback must have thought it was third down, but it was actually fourth. We stopped them and got great field position."
The first half would end in an 8-8 standoff.
The score wouldn't change until very late in the third quarter. That's when Terry took a handoff from junior quarterback Bob McCosky, slipped through the middle of the Massillon defense, "wiggled and squirmed into the clear and raced 61 yards to score (that's how Kirker described the touchdown run that will forever be part of Big Red football history)."
Terry's touchdown jaunt came with seven seconds left in the quarter. The conversion try was not successful. Big Red's possession came after Terry recovered a Massillon fumble at the Steubenville 34. Needless to say, Terry was mobbed by his teammates, coaches and others on the sideline when he came off the field.
"Oh yes, I remember that touchdown," Mazzaferro said. "It was 16 Power and Terry ran right over me. The guy I was blocking was complaining to the officials about being held the whole way down the field."
The defenses took over in the fourth quarter. Big Red's defense led by Mazzaferro, Wilson, John Bruzda, Floyd Stinson and Herb Lindsey would come up with several big plays. Wilson logged two interceptions in the final period and Lindsey had one.
When the final gun sounded "thousands of fans streamed onto the field (again as Kirker wrote)." I was among that number. The win was Big Red's first over Massillon in 24 tries.
The opening paragraph of Kirker's game story the next day read:
"Big Red ended 31 years of football frustration Friday night as it stormed from behind to collar Massillon 14-8."
Steubenville has not won at Massillon (against the Tigers that is) since that October night in 1962.
Rich Ranallo, retired superintendent of the city school system, was a member of the 1962 team. He said he remembers leaving Massillon that night feeling "kind of surreal."
"It was just so exciting," he said. "It was a tough, physical game. They weren't your typical Massillon team but they were good. I remember we had a lot of penalties but we overcame them and came out with the win."
Ranallo added his father was a member of the 1931 Big Red team which demolished Massillon 68-0.
"That's something I will always remember," he noted. "Not many father-son teams share that kind of accomplishment."
Big Red's starting offense for the contest included:
Ends - Bruzda and Rolland Owens; tackles - John Miller and Mazzaferro; guards - Steve Bauman and Vic Ziklo; center - Tom Duncan; quarterback - McCosky; halfbacks - Wilson and Terry; and fullback -Bob Weinman.
The 1962 Big Red squad would finish with a 9-1 record. The only blemish was a 20-12 loss in week nine against Toledo Central Catholic. Mazzaferro pointed out the Toledo squad was a late addition to Steubenville's schedule that season.
"We were supposed to play Canton McKinley, a team we had beaten the year before," he said. "But they got placed on probation for using ineligible players. So Toledo stepped up and filled the opening."
Needless to say Steubenville celebrated the victory for days to follow. I can still remember arriving home and seeing people on the streets, people on their porches, automobile horns "honking" away. It truly was a surreal scene.
"I still think about that game," Mazzaferro said. "I'll never forget Dr. (William) Lighthizer (Big Red's long time team doctor) coming up to me with tears in his eyes. He told me he never thought he would get to see a Big Red team beat Massillon up there."
Miller, Big Red's other tackle; noted Steubenville had two touchdowns called back during the 1962 contest.
"On the way up there, the coaches told us if we had anything called back, all we could do was get back in the huddle and do it again," he said. "So, that's what we did."
The Steubenville victory marked the first time in "at least 20 years" that Massillon lost a home game, Miller indicated.
"It was just a great feeling," he said. "I remember we went to the Town and Country Restaurant after the game and it was packed with Big Red fans. We had to snake our way through the crowd.
"I'll never forget Joe "Buster" Horston singing on the bus the whole way back. It was just a great game and a great year; the whole town was behind us."
Here's an early prediction - the whole town will be behind the 2010 Big Red team when it heads to Stark County Friday night.
(Looman, a Steubenville resident, is a sports correspondent for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and is the Executive Director of Progress Alliance)