By: Rick Ford
The day started out gray and overcast with the threat of a cold rain. The crowd began stirring before 9am for this 121st match up of one of America’s most storied rivalries. It was time for the Tigers and Bulldogs to mix it up on the tradition laden NFL Football Hall of Fame Fawcett Stadium. It was time for McKinley versus Massillon.
But just like the game that would follow, gray skies and stingy defense would eventually give way to blue skies and great football. In front of a crowd of over 18,000 fans (17,000 tickets were pre sold), the Bulldogs and the Tigers demonstrated what makes this game one of the best rivalries in the nation.
To say it was a game of two halfs would be almost correct. The first half ended in a 7-7 tie with each school staking its claim to dominance. The third quarter ended much the same way, with Mckinley holding a 10-7 lead. Total combined yards were 211. That would change in a hurry when the clock started for the fourth quarter.
On the second play of the quarter, the Tigers would strike with a Kyle Kempt to Tre Hendricks 28 yard touchdown over the middle. Massillon leads 14-10 with 11:34 to go in the final stanza.
Their lead would not last long. The Bulldogs answered the Tiger TD with one of their own when, following a 17 yard connection between Tyler Foster and Zach Sweat, Foster found Terrence Burt in the end zone to make the score 16-14 McKinley. There was 7:27 left in this battle and that is a lot of football in this game.
After some back and forth with no scoring, the Tigers’ Alex Winters took the ball on a Massillon draw play and scampered 43 yards for what looked to be the winning touchdown with 1:13 to play. Massillon now led its rival 20-16.
The next 73 seconds confirmed why this game holds the hearts and minds of this community and why it was selected as one of the 2011 Great American Rivalry games. In those final seconds McKinley’s Jeff Richardson caught and ran the ball for 41 yards to set up the final touchdown which game MVP, McKinley Quarterback Tyler Foster, ran in with 13 seconds left on the clock.
It was a Classic battle that will be talked about for years. The Bulldogs hoisted the trophy in air after their comeback 23 – 20 victory.
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- McKinley vs Massillon – 2011