MASSILLON - Stung by three early scores, Big Red hung tough, regrouped and put up quite a battle Friday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Unfortunately, the early scoring barrage was too much to overcome and Massillon earned a 24-7 victory.
Both teams finish the first half of the 2012 season at 4-1. Massillon now holds a 39-5-2 lead in the overall series. Since the rivalry was restored in 2009, the home team has a pair of victories.
GETTING YARDS — Steubenville Big Red’s Michael Jett runs for yardage during Friday’s 24-7 loss to Massillon at Paul Brown Stadium.
-- Ron Gardner
The hosts put 21 points on the board in less than nine minutes to take a lead they would never surrender.
They took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards in just five plays, all yardage coming via the arm of senior Kyle Kempt. He hit five straight and connected with Gareon Conley for a 21-yard score. Anthony McCarthy added the kick and the Tigers were off and running.
Big Red's initial possession resulted in one first down before Luke Smith punted from his own 43. Massillon's Marcus Whitfield initially dropped the ball, chased it down, regained the handle and sprinted 81 yards to the house. McCarthy again nailed the conversion try. The hosts were up 14-0 with just five minutes gone.
Massillon 24, Big Red 7
Big Red 0 7 0 0 - 7
Massillon21 0 0 3 - 24
M: Conley 21 pass from Kempt (McCarthy kick)
M: Whitfield 81 yard punt return (McCarthy kick)
M: Tonn 25 pass from Kempt (McCarthy kick)
BR: Redman 9 run (Smith kick)
M: McCarthy 42 yard field goal
RUSHING: Big Red 39-50-1 (Redman 15-41-1; Stinson 11-15; Jett 9-3; Hayden 2-2; Luke 1-1; Petrella 1 (-12); Massillon 28-97 (Taylor 11-52; Moore 15-51; Kempt 1-(-4).
PASSING: Big Red 11-19-93-0-0 (all by Stinson); Massillon 13-19-191-2-0 (Kempt 12-18-2-160; Tonn 1-1-31).
RECEIVING: Big Red (Westlake 4-47; Lawson 2-14; Saltsman 2-7; Jett 1-19; Reed 1-6; Petrella 1-0); Massillon (Tonn 5-42; Conley 3-65; Volzer 2-43; Rambo 2-35; Copeland 1-6).
FIRST DOWNS: Big Red 9; Massillon 13.
PENALTIES-YARDS: Big Red 5-44; Massillon 4-30.
PUNTS: Big Red 8-41; Massillon 3-15.
FUMBLES-LOST: Big Red 1-0; Massillon 1-1.
Saccoccia's defense made a nice stance near midfield following a three and out by its offense, forcing the Tigers into an obvious punting situation at their own 45. Instead, coach Jason Hall rolled the dice and punter Brody Tonn found Ryan Rambo for a 31 yard gain. On the next play, Kempt hit Tonn for a 25-yard score. McCarthy's kick made it 21-0.
"We weren't perfect early," Reno Saccoccia said. "We gave them a quick score and two scores on special teams. We didn't show up in the first quarter at all.
"I'm not disappointed in our team. I'm very proud of the guys that fought for 48 minutes."
Big Red finally got a break when the Tiger long snapper sailed one over Tonn's head. The ball bounced into the Massillon end zone where Tonn was able to field it and get off a line drive punt. Tajuan Lawson caught the bullet in full stride and galloped to the Tiger 9. One play later, Dashon Redman plowed over for the score. Luke Smith added the extra point.
Saccoccia then showed his riverboat gambler side, calling for the onside kick. It worked to perfection, Michael Jett recovering at the Massillon 37. Jett got four on a dive play but Big Red was guilty of a motion penalty on second down. Matt Petrella was thrown for a 12-yard loss on a reverse pass play and the drive stalled. When that particular scoring opportunity failed to materialize, the Tiger defense seemed to gain the momentum and maintain it for the rest of the football game.
"I'll tell you this," Saccoccia stressed, "that was the turning point in the game. I suggested that reverse pass and that was a bad thing to do. We were running it at them and I got greedy. We should have never run that play, that's on me.
"It was 21-7 and we had the ball on their side of the field. It was a very poor call on my part and I apologize to the team for making it."
Big Red would get another chance late in the half, moving from its own 35 to the Tiger 19. However, the Massillon defense stepped up big again, stopping Redman on fourth and two. During the march, Redman ran for 20 yards and Corey Stinson hit Manard Reed for a key first down. The catch was Reed's first of the year and he bounced off two Tiger tacklers to move the chains.
The only score of the second half came on a 44-yard field by McCarthy. His boot capped an eight-play Tiger drive early in the final period.
Massillon finished the night with 288 yards of offense (97 on the ground and 191 through the air) on 47 plays. Kempt passed for 160. Big Red had 143 on 58 plays. Stinson was 11 of 19 for 93 stripes. Redman finished with 41 rushing yards to pace Steubenville.
Big Red will look to rebound next week when Pittsburgh Westinghouse visits Harding Stadium.
"I'm glad with the way that we fought," Saccoccia pointed out. "I hope this is not a season lost in one game. I've seen that happen before. I hope this team shows the heart and character that it has and get ready to go Monday after school for practice."