September 30, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
59°F

Hornets beat Massillon

Highland's crowd cheers as the Hornets beat Massillon 17-14. (AARON JOSEFCZYK / PHOTO)

Albert Grindle

The Gazette

AKRON — The rowdy fans waving their orange towels, the Obie the Tiger decal on the side of the helmets and the tradition of Massillon football frequently intimidate opponents into submission.

More than 7,650 in attendance at the University of Akron’s Infocision Stadium-Summa Field saw the opposite Friday in a Division II, Region 4 semifinal because, quite frankly, li’l ole’ Highland could have cared less.

The top-seeded Hornets punched the fourth-seeded Tigers square in the chin, dominated the second half and held on for an edge-of-your seat 17-14 victory.

They advance to face No. 2 Avon (12-0) next week at a site to be determined.

“It’s something that Highland does: We pick each other up. We’re brothers on this football team,” quarterback Bruce Kinsey said. “That’s what I think more than anything else wins this football game. We played as one, and there’s no kid that takes the load. We all play together.”

Highland (12-0), which won its 16th straight game, needed every bit of its brotherhood to send Massillon (9-3) packin’ down state Route 21.

Trailing 7-0 late in the first half, the Hornets got on the board after the Tigers’ J.D. Crabtree fumbled away to Cory Moncol deep in Massillon territory. Once Luke Allen kicked a 37-yard field goal — his first successful attempt in four weeks — four plays later, Highland never let off the gas.

Reigning Gazette MVP Kinsey (21 carries, 75 yards, TD; 13-for-29 passing, 110 yards) rebounded from an early interception to keep the Hornets afloat in the second. Alex Harris added 109 yards and a crucial 43-yard touchdown with 6:43 left, while punter Moncol pinned Massillon at its own 11- and 5-yard lines in the final 3:49.

Highland led 17-7 after the TD runs by Kinsey and Harris, but gave up an 86-yard touchdown reception to Marcus Whitfield (7 receptions, 133 yards) on fourth down with 2:55 remaining. It escaped after Moncol boomed a 55-yard punt from his own 8, Coltin Kinsey picked off nationally recognized freshman Danny Clark (11-for-30, 161 yards) with 2:03 left and Houska and Tyler Frederick came up with the game-sealing sack in the final 30 seconds.

The postgame alma mater never had more energy.

“That game defensively reminded me a lot of (a 28-25 win over) Nordonia,” Bruce Kinsey said. “I gave up an early seven points and the defense picked us up. Once again, they won us the football game.”

Highland held the Tigers (9-3) to just 62 rushing yards on 30 attempts by challenging Massillon’s injury-riddled but still massive offensive line on every snap. The Hornets were helped by an off-night from Clark, who missed two open receivers on fourth down and at least three others that could have went for long gains, yet were a major factor why Massillon failed to move on the chains on 10 of its final 11 third-down attempts.

That allowed Kinsey, Harris and the offensive line of Tyler Gienger, Houska, Tanner Ramey, Frederick and Michael Doak to get the running game going. Highland rushed for 136 of its 184 yards and converted 5-of-9 third downs in the second half, when it chewed up a combined 10:41 and scored twice on its first three drives.

The ground attack then freed up underneath routes for Coltin Kinsey (7 receptions, 63 yards) and tight end Conor McCune (3, 23), as the duo combined for three critical first downs.

“We didn’t really make any (adjustments),” Harris said. “We just knew that what we have works. We kept doing it and executed well.”

“It all starts up front,” Bruce Kinsey added. “The line kept going, and Coach (Tom) Lombardo always says our read-option gets better as the game goes on. I think that was the case tonight.”

Massillon completely controlled the first 20 minutes, as Crabtree and running mate Lyron Wilson (11 carries, 33 yards) chipped away with bruising 3- and 4-yard gains. However, the Tigers didn’t get on the board until Bruce Kinsey’s short attempt to Moncol was intercepted by Reggie Rogers — it was only Kinsey’s fourth turnover of the season — who returned the ball to the Highland 19.

Crabtree scored with 3:06 left in the first quarter, and the Hornets failed to gain any momentum with three three-and-outs and Kinsey’s INT on their first four possessions.

The teams traded punts for the better part of the half until Massillon stunningly didn’t take a knee with less than 45 seconds left. Crabtree then fumbled, Moncol recovered on the Tigers 21 and Allen’s field goal gave the Hornets a much-needed boost heading into the locker room.

The rest came down to heart. The final score tells who won that category.

Highland 17, Massillon 14.

“It’s like a dream,” Harris said. “Honestly, it hasn’t set in yet, but it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Highland 17, Massillon 14

Division II, Region 4 semifinals

at University of Akron’s Infocision Stadium-Summa Field

MASSILLON                      7   0   0  7 —  14

HIGHLAND                         0  3   7  7 —  17

First

M — J.D. Crabtree 2 run (Andrew David kick), 3:06.

Second

H — Luke Allen 37 field goal, 0:16.

Third

H — Bruce Kinsey 3 run (Allen kick), 5:56.

Fourth

H — Harris 43 run (Allen kick), 6:43.

M — Marcus Whitfield 86 pass from Danny Clark (David kick), 2:55.

                                                            M                  H

First downs                                        9                 14

By rush                                                3                   8

By pass                                               5                   5

By penalty                                           1                   1

Rushing                                        30/62         40/184

Rushing average                             2.1                4.6

Passing                                        11/30           13/29

Passing yards                                161               110

Avg. per attempt                            5.4                3.8

Avg. per completion                    14.6                8.5

Total plays/yards                    60/223         69/294

Avg. gain per play                          3.7                4.3

Punting                                       8/37.3        10/35.4

Time of possession                   23:05            24:55

Penalties                                        5/45             5/52

Fumbles/lost                                  2/1               0/0

MASSILLON

Rushing

Name                              No.    Yds.     Avg.      TD

Crabtree                            11        36        3.3          1

Lyron Wilson                     11        33        3.0          0

Whitefield                             1          2        2.0          0

Clark                                     7        -9      -0.8          0

Receiving

Name                              No.    Yds.     Avg.      TD

Whitfield                               7      133      19.0          1

Leslie Dudley                       1        12      12.0          0

Wilson                                  3        16        5.3          0

Passing

Name                            Com      Att      Pct     Yds                                      TD-INT

Clark                                   11        30      .367      161                                     1-1

Tackles: Danny Robinson 10, Alex Dailey 8, John Henry Bronczek 6, Reggie Rogers 4, Marcus Whitfield 4, Malek Jackson 4, Dakota Dunwiddie 4, Alec Weber 4, Dudley 3, Donnie Heather 3, Mike Smith 2, JD Crabtree 2, Saive Isles 2, Blake Tombow 2, Devon Ingram 2, Wilson.

Tackles for loss: Ingram, Jackson.

Sacks: Heather, Tombow.

Pass deflections: Ingram.

Interception: Rogers.

HIGHLAND

Rushing

Name                              No.    Yds.     Avg.      TD

Harris                                 19      109        5.7          1

B. Kinsey                            21        75        3.6          1

Receiving

Name                              No.    Yds.     Avg.      TD

Coltin Kinsey                       7        63        9.0          0

Cory Moncol                       3        24        8.0          0

Conor McCune                   3        23        7.7          0

Passing

Name                            Com      Att      Pct     Yds                                      TD-INT

B. Kinsey                            13        29      .448      110                                     0-1

Tackles: James Friedl 9, Grant Wallace 7, Nick Corvo 5, Nick Haas 5, Myles Houska 4, Tyler Frederick 4, Jonny Zaz 4, Cory Moncol 2, Colton Kinsey 2, Collin Paich 2, Blake Phelps 2, Alex Harris, Team.

Tackles for loss: Friedl 2, C. Kinsey, Houska ½, Frederick ½.

Sacks: Friedl, Houska ½, Frederick ½.

Pass deflections: Houska

Fumble recovered: Moncol.