MANSFIELD — With the game on the line midway through the fourth quarter, the fifth-seeded Whitehall-Yearling High School football team did not execute and a six-point deficit quickly turned into a 35-17 loss to top-seeded Massillon Washington in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal Nov. 9 at Arlin Field.
The Rams finished 10-2, while the Tigers improved to 12-0 and will play third-seeded Wadsworth in the regional final Nov. 16.
“We were right there and stubbed our toes and just didn’t execute when we needed it most,” said Whitehall coach Rod Lightfoot, whose team had a 10-game winning streak snapped. “We gave ourselves a chance and our defense kept us in it despite allowing a few big plays, but things just fell apart at the end.”
With the Rams trailing 23-17 in the final 10 minutes, Wayne Blackshear returned a Massillon fumble 35 yards to the Tigers’ 34.
But facing third-and-5, Whitehall had penalties on three consecutive plays and was forced to punt.
Massillon then drove 80 yards in nine plays — aided by two more Whitehall penalties — before Jamir Thomas scored on a 19-yard run to extend the Tigers’ lead to 29-17 with 5:45 remaining.
Then, after the teams exchanged punts, Whitehall quarterback Raymell Byrd threw an interception that was returned to the Rams’ 10.
Massillon tacked on the final score on fourth-and-9 with a pass from quarterback Zach Catrone to 6-foot-6 receiver Tre’Von Morgan with 45 seconds left. After the extra point, tempers flared and the benches emptied. Helmets were thrown and the officials met at midfield before deciding to end the game.
“It’s unfortunate that we lost our composure and cool and (Massillon) kept talking at us,” Lightfoot said. “But it was a tremendous season and we stayed right with them until the middle of the fourth quarter. I’m proud of our effort tonight and all season.”
Byrd rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries and was 7-for-21 passing for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Rams allowed 430 total yards and 23 first downs and managed 196 total yards and 12 first downs. They won the turnover battle 3-1 to stay in the game.
For Massillon, Catrone was 16-for-24 passing for 169 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore backup quarterback came into the game at the end of the first quarter when starter Aidan Longwell was injured.
Running back Jamir Thomas rushed for 136 yards on 26 carries, while Morgan had four catches for 46 yards and two touchdowns and Jayden Ballard had two catches for 125 yards, both of which were touchdowns (70 and 55 yards).
Whitehall trailed 10-9 late in the first half until Massillon scored with one second left on a 15-yard pass from Catrone to Morgan, giving the Tigers a 17-9 lead at halftime.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final WHITEHALL-YEARLING 3 6 8 0 17 MASSILLON WASHINGTON
7 10 6 12 35
MW—Ballard 70 pass from Longwell (Bauer kick)
WY—Carchure 27 FG
MW—Bauer 24 FG
WY—Gordon 64 pass from Byrd (run failed)
MW—Morgan 15 pass from Catrone (Bauer kick)
WY—Singleton 8 fumble return (Byrd run)
MW—Ballard 55 pass from Longwell (kick blocked)
MW—Thomas 19 run (pass failed)
MW—Morgan 9 pass from Catrone (run failed)