CANTON – Archbishop Hoban faced a stiff challenge from Massillon on Thursday night in the Division II state championship football game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
And the Knights delivered like a state champion should with big plays in big moments to earn a 42-28 victory before a crowd of 16,213 fans who braved a cold rain and snow mix during portions of the game.
Hoban (15-0) won its second consecutive Division II state championship, and fourth state title in a row with two Division III state crowns in 2015 and 2016. The Knights also improved to 57-3 during the past four seasons.
“My hat goes off to the seniors and it goes off to the players,” Hoban coach Tim Tyrrell said. “Players win championships, not coaches.”
With Hoban leading Massillon 34-28, Knights senior Marcus Saahir gained five yards on a fake punt on a fourth-down play to extend a drive around the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Four rushes and two penalties later, junior DeaMonte Trayanum rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:45 to go. Senior Mason Tipton then ran for a 2-point conversion to give Hoban a 42-28 lead.
Tyrrell said senior Matt Blanchard snapped the ball to Saahir, and it was the first time that combination executed that play all season.
Hoban senior Matt Salopek grabbed an interception with 3:22 on the Knights 8-yard line to quell a Tigers drive and seal the victory.
Hoban senior Tyris Dickerson rushed for 211 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries behind a steady offensive line that includes seniors Nolan Rumler, Jacob Petit, Jaden Baxter and Owen Robinson and junior Walter Ganous.
“This has been a crazy four years and I am so blessed to have been part of it,” Rumler said.
Knights sophomore quarterback Shane Hamm completed 4-of-9 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed nine times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Trayanum contributed 82 yards on 17 carries.
Hoban scored on its first two possessions to take a 13-0 lead. Dickerson ran 13 yards for a touchdown at 5:42 and Hamm rushed for a 23-yard touchdown at 3:44. Senior Jacob Branham made his first of four extra points after the second score.
Dickerson gained 50 yards on five carries during the first drive and Hamm broke free for a 29-yard rush. The second drive started with a 46-yard pass completion from Hamm to Tipton and ended with Hamm reaching the end zone.
Hoban extended its lead to 27-0 in the second quarter. Hamm rushed for a 1-yard touchdown at 1:04 and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Dickerson at 9:12. Junior Devin Hightower set up the Hamm-Dickerson connection with an interception.
Massillon (14-1) cut its deficit to 27-7 with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter when junior Zion Phifer ran for a 1-yard touchdown and sophomore Alex Bauer made his first of four extra points. Junior quarterback Aidan Longwell hit two passes on the drive to sophomore Jayden Ballard and senior Aydrik Ford for a combined 64 yards.
Hoban responded with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Hamm to junior Caden Clark with 57 seconds left in the second quarter to take a 34-7 halftime lead.
Massillon executed an onside kick to open the third quarter and sophomore Andrew Wilson-Lamp pounced on the loose ball on the Hoban 35-yard line. Four plays later, Phifer ran for a 6-yard touchdown and the Tigers trailed 34-14 at 10:37.
Senior Kyshad Mack rumbled his way to 48 yards on five carries in the third quarter, including a 1-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left in the quarter to make it 34-21.
Massillon cut its deficit to 34-28 with 9:13 to go in the fourth quarter when Longwell threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Ford.
Sophomores Luke Bauer, Damon Ollison II, Darryl Peterson and Alvin Stallworth, seniors Petit, Saahir, Joe Michalowicz, Nick Griffith and Isaiah Jackson and junior Anthony Threadgill were also solid defensively for Hoban.
Phifer, who filled in as a starter for injured senior Jamir Thomas, finished with 82 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.