Tigers run away from Eagles, 42-21


Big Walnut was special on special teams, using some fireworks on the opening kickoff and an onside kick midway through the third quarter to stay within striking distance, but Massillon Washington was better in the other two phases of the game en route to a 42-21 Division II regional semifinal win Friday night at Arlin Field in Mansfield.

Nate Severs gave the Golden Eagles some juice right away, returning the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The point-after attempt was no good, but BW led 6-0 with 11:46 left in the first.

Still buzzing from the score, the Eagles (10-3) came up with a huge play on their first defensive play, too, as Teddy Dancer jumped in front of an under-thrown receiver for an interception at midfield.

The Eagles moved the ball a bit on their first series, but Severs was stuffed on a 3rd-and-1 from inside the Tiger 10-yard line. Still, Cam Gladden made the turnover hurt by connecting on a 22-yard field goal to make it a 9-0 game with 8:33 left in the first quarter.

They were four really, really good minutes right out of the gate, but, unfortunately for Big Walnut, Massillon Washington (11-1) found its form after that. The Tigers scored their first touchdown a couple drives later — Dorian Pringle plowed to the Eagle 1-yard line before Wiltrell Hartson punched it in to make it a 9-7 game with 2:12 left in the first — and, after Pringle picked up a 4th-and-1 from the 40, QB Jalen Slaughter hit Braylyn Toles for a 39-yard touchdown connection. The two-point conversion, a run from Hartson, was successful and the Tigers led 15-9 with 10:37 left in the second quarter.

After scoring on the back-to-back possessions, Massillon Washington never trailed again.

The Eagles got a little something going on their next drive, getting to the Tiger 47 on a nice reverse by Garrett Stover, and Jake Nier hit Brad Kildoo for a 17-yard gain to the 3o, but the drive stalled there.

Big Walnut was able to down the ensuing punt at the 1-yard line, but it didn’t matter as Massillon was able to drive the ball 99 yards for a touchdown just before the half. The Tigers faced a 4th-and-1 after Pringle powered to the BW 4, with a potential stop keeping it at a one-score game. Instead, though, Hartson scored from four yards out to make it a 21-9 game at the break.

A big play early in the second half ballooned the lead a bit more — Harston scored from 79 yards out — but Big Walnut continued to play hard.

Severs finally broke free for the first time since the opening kickoff, finding some space on the outside before sprinting down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown with 6:14 left in the third quarter, and Aiden Holycross recovered an onside kick at the Tiger 45 on the ensuing kickoff, but the drive stalled on the doorstep of the end zone as Nier’s pass to Stover on 4th-and-goal was broken up in the end zone.

The Tigers all but sealed the deal midway through the fourth quarter, when Slaughter hit Ardell Banks for a 17-yard touchdown strike with 6:14 left. They added another touchdown after that, making it 42-15 before the Eagles smoothed out the scoring summary with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Nier to Severs with 1:38 to go.

Big Walnut’s Garrett Stover is stood up by a pair of Massillon Washington defenders during the first half of Friday’s D-II regional semifinal in Mansfield.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2022/11/web1_IMG_8360-2.jpgBig Walnut’s Garrett Stover is stood up by a pair of Massillon Washington defenders during the first half of Friday’s D-II regional semifinal in Mansfield. Ben Stroup | The Gazette

By Ben Stroup

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