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Can't break away

September 14, 2013
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle ( , Underthelights

WARREN - For a few brief moments it all seemed to be coming together for the Warren G. Harding Raiders.

Stung early by a pair of touchdowns by the Massillon Tigers, the Raiders rallied to tie the score late in the second quarter on drives of 80 and 74 yards. The crowd at Mollenkopf Stadium was energized, sensing a perfect ending to a two-day recognition of Harding graduate Paul Warfield.

It took the Tigers all of 18 seconds of game time to silence the crowd with a 45-yard kick return by Marcus Whitfield and a 32-yard touchdown pass from Danny Clark to Reggie Rogers.

Article Photos

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Warren G. Harding’s Keemari Murry is swarmed by Massillon defenders during second-quarter action Friday night.

Massillon scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter and cruised to a 35-14 win on a throwback night when the Raiders honored the tradition of the Harding Panthers.

"In the first half we showed a resolve to come back," Raiders coach Steve Arnold said. "We tied it up and had the crowd back into it and we're on an emotional high, and then we give them the score right before halftime. That took the wind out of our sails."

Two things that stood out were the quick-strike ability of the 3-0 Tigers and their outstanding kicking game. Junior kicker Andrew David had four touchbacks on six kickoffs. One of the two was returned was taken at the goal line.

As a consequence, the Raiders (1-2) had poor field position most of the night. Combine that with a ground-oriented offense that doesn't score quickly, and Harding couldn't afford to get down by more than two touchdowns.

"We knew we were starting on the 20-yard line," Arnold said. "They have weapons offensively. That concerned us coming into the game."

The biggest of the weapons for the Tigers was freshman quarterback Danny Clark, who has already attracted recruiters from college football factories. The 6-3, 200-pound Clark was everything of which he has been touted. The southpaw has a strong and accurate arm. He appeared poised beyond his years in directing his teammates.

"The one thing - not only about Danny, but all of our kids is they're tough kids," Tigers coach Jason Hall said. "They want to be in the big environments. Even last week when we played a big game (against Canton GlenOak), he doesn't get worked up. He's a kid that wants the ball in his hands, and that's what you want from your quarterback."

Arnold surprisingly called on senior Lamar Carmichael to start at quarterback. Carmichael, who had foot surgery about two weeks before the start of the season and had played only part of the opener against Austintown Fitch, added a spark to the offense, but not enough to match the Tigers' potent attack.

Carmichael rekindled memories of recent Raiders quarterback Michael Phillips on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Nate Walls. Carmichael slipped out of two near tackles, somehow managing to get off the pass to Walls, who reached up to make the catch just across the goal line.

Carmichael re-injured his right foot on the play.

"The feeling is coming back slowly but surely," Carmichael said. "Hopefully (I'll be 100 percent) by week five, maybe four."

The Tigers marched 62 yards on eight plays to score on a 1-yard run by J.D. Crabtree on the game's first possession. Massillon extended the lead to 14-0 later in the first quarter on another 1-yard run by Crabtree, concluding a four-play, 30-yard drive.

The Raiders' offense got untracked in the second quarter behind the strong running of Keemari Murry, who finished with 200 yards on 35 carries. Murry carried five times for 56 yards on the 80-yard drive, capping it with a 34-yard scoring run. Murray tacked on four more carries for an additional 41 yards on the 76-yard drive that resulted in Walls' touchdown.

After regaining the lead at 21-14 on Rogers' touchdown, the Tigers added scores on a 15-yard run by Lyron Wilson and a 7-yard run by Crabtree. Wilson had 121 yards on 18 carries.

"To come out and hold them and get the football back and go right back down and get up by 14 points; that's what we talked about," Hall said. "Come out in the second half. Let's get them to punt and put a drive together."

The Raiders were hurt by turnovers, while the Tigers played mistake-free football. Carmichael had a pass intercepted by Mike Smith at the Raiders' 44, setting up Crabtree's 19-yard touchdown run. Elijah Cofield had the ball stripped from his grasp after taking a reverse for a gain of 25 yards. Devon Ingram recovered for the Tigers.

Harding returns to action Friday at Maple Heights.