CANTON: Massillon played like a team fighting for its life Saturday, and archrival Canton McKinley paid the price.
Storming into the state playoffs in impressive fashion, Massillon (8-2) doubled its pleasure with a 34-7 whipping of the stunned Bulldogs in the 124th renewal of the storied rivalry at sold-out Fawcett Stadium.
Needing a win, the Tigers clinched one of the eight postseason spots in Division II, Region IV and will host Nordonia at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“It feels great to be back in the playoffs and we get to play on the home field once more,” said Massillon senior Lyron Wilson, who carried the load on the ground with 26 rushes for 184 yards. “It’s a great feeling.”
Massillon also captured its third consecutive victory over McKinley, including regular-season and playoff wins a year ago. Since Massillon moved to Division II this year while McKinley remains in Division I, there will be no playoff rematch.
McKinley (9-1) had already clinched a berth and first-round home game at 7 p.m. Saturday against a yet-to-be determined opponent. But the quest for its first perfect regular season since 2005 was spoiled by the Tigers on an overcast day with steady rain falling in the second half.
And one crazy play at the end of the first half was foremost in the eventual outcome. Behind 7-0, McKinley drove from its own 32 and was faced with a fourth-and-2 at the Massillon 20. The Bulldogs let the clock run down to the final three seconds and took a timeout, lining up for a 37-yard field goal.
The kick was blocked by Massillon senior Marcus Whitfield, and a mad scramble ensued, as several players from both teams tried to recover the ball. It squirted toward Tigers senior Alex Dailey, who picked it up at the McKinley 45 and raced untouched to the end zone.
Andrew David’s extra point made it 14-0, and the jubilant Tigers took a huge momentum lift to the locker room.
“I owe it to Marcus Whitfield for making a block and Leslie Dudley for keeping the play alive,” Dailey said. “He could have tried to pick it up and probably would’ve gotten tackled, but instead he laid a block for another teammate to get it, and then their guys just tried to pick it up and I ended up with it and scored a touchdown.”
McKinley coach Todd Filtz said he would have gone for it on a third-down play, but since it was fourth down decided the field goal was the prudent play.
“That could have made it a 7-3 game at half,” Filtz said. “If it was there again we’d make the same call.”
After a McKinley three-and-out to start the third quarter, Massillon freshman quarterback Danny Clark hit junior Reggie Rogers with a 44-yard strike to the McKinley 6. Two plays later, Clark scored on a 2-yard keeper for a 21-0 lead.
Massillon sophomore Saive Isles then intercepted a McKinley pass and returned it to the Bulldogs’ 28, setting up the first of David’s two field goals — a 35-yarder.
McKinley senior Nikolas Ricks raced 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play after kickoff to cut the margin to 24-7 with 6:29 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth, a 30-yard field goad by David and a 15-yard pass from Clark to Whitfield completed the scoring.
McKinley junior quarterback Eric Glover-Williams gained 73 yards on 18 carries.
“I thought our kids did a great job of executing the game plan,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said. “And a great job of our coaches all week keeping our kids focused with the environment they’re in with this McKinley-Massillon game.”
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.