By CHRIS EASTERLING
Independent sports editor
CANTON The weather was ideal for an old-school, pound-it-down-the-field football game Saturday afternoon. And Massillon was more than happy to oblige with just that kind of effort.
In the process, the Tigers were able to run archrival McKinley off the field in a 34-7 win at Fawcett Stadium in Saturday’s 124th meeting.
Massillon’s rushing attack chewed up 218 yards on 48 attempts, a solid 4.5 yards-per-carry average. But it was the showing by senior Lyron Wilson that stole the show in that regard.
Wilson helped to power the Tigers behind a 26-carry, 184-yard rushing performance. It was his second-highest single-game rushing total, surpassed only by the 234-yard effort in a Week 5 win over Steubenville.
VIDEO: Watch Wilson's performance on "Game Night"
“I thought he ran like that against (St. Vincent-St. Mary) too,” Massillon coach Jason Hall said after his 8-2 team earned a Division II playoff berth. “Lyron’s a tough kid. It’s all about heart with that kid. He’s not the biggest, but he just gets in there and grinds. We have a one-two punch that we’re happy with.”
The tone for Wilson’s day was set on his fifth carry, a 51-yard sprint down to the McKinley 8. While he didn’t score on the day, that run helped to set up the first of four Tiger touchdowns on the afternoon.
Not that Wilson was taking credit for any of that. Instead he paid it forward to the teammates up front blocking for him.
“Our offensive line, I’m telling you, they blocked their butts off,” said Wilson, who now has 999 yards on the season. “Without them guys, I can’t do anything. The whole offense wouldn’t have been able to get 34 points. It runs through the offensive line.”
Despite losing tackle Devin Williams during the game, Massillon’s talented and highly-regarded line more than held its own against a big, strong McKinley defensive front. Knowing the Tigers’ playoff hopes rested on the outcome, that line took it upon itself to establish the line of scrimmage as its territory.
The results — as well as the as first-round playoff game against Nordonia next Friday night — speak for themselves.
“We just came in knowing they were pretty big up front and physical,” 6-foot-5, 280-pound Massillon center Nathaniel Devers said. “They’ve done good in every game they’ve played so far. We just felt we were bigger, faster, stronger, and we had to take it to them up front.”
Which is exactly what the Tigers did with their offense. Massillon went with a designed run play on 16 of the first 22 plays, and 15 of the game’s final 17 plays.
Of those 31 run plays, 19 went to Wilson. And once he got his hands on the ball, he steadily helped Massillon take command of the afternoon.
“Lyron’s a great back,” 6-5, 278-pound senior tackle Chase Lash said. “Knowing that Lyron’s back there and knowing that he’s going to make plays, it’s just a great feeling. You love opening up those holes for him.”