The Massillon Tigers figured if the McKinley Bulldogs weren’t going to make any adjustments to stop the run, then lets keep running the same play and they did, with Jamir Thomas carrying the ball 35 times for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Tigers 24-17 victory over the Bulldogs in the 129th meeting of high school football’s greatest rivalry. #16 Thomas, a senior, was named the games Most Valuable Player. As a team, Massillon out rushed McKinley 348 yards to 141.
The game was tied 17-17 after three quarters and the play that changed the outcome was a failed fake punt by McKinley that was intercepted by the Tigers on the first play of the final stanza. Max Turner picked of Mathew Reardon’s pass attempt on a 4th and 6 play and Massillon would score the game’s final 7 points off that turnover, McKinley second of the game. Zion Phifer scored the game winner on a 1 yard run with 5:55 left and the Tigers defense held Mckinley on the ensuing drive and then the Cats offense ran out the clock.
Massillon has now won three in a row in this rivalry and finished their regular season a perfect 10-0. The Tigers will be the #1 seed in Division 2/Region 7 in the OHSAA playoffs and will host Columbus Walnut Ridge on Friday night.
After the starting the season a perfect 8-0, McKinley dropped its final two games of the regular season to end up at 8-2 and sharing the Federal League crown with Hoover, but did qualify for the Division 1/Region 1 playoffs as the 5th seed and travels to Solon on Friday night.