MANSFIELD, Ohio - Inches proved to be the difference in the Division I regional semifinal between Findlay and Massillon Washington last night.
Findlay quarterback Chris Schneider was stopped by Massillon's defensive line inside the 1-yard line as time expired to secure a 27-20 victory before an announced crowd of 12,264 at Arlin Field.
The stop by the Tigers (11-1) came only moments after the Trojans successfully pulled off a hook-and-ladder play that went for 51 yards and put Findlay in position to go for the win or send the game into overtime.
Massillon's second goal-line stand of the game completed a second-half comeback in which Massillon outscored Findlay 20-10 to advance to a regional final against Canton McKinley.
''In my heart, my kids will be champions forever,'' Findlay coach Cliff Hite said.
''Our kids were courageous and they never quit.''
Findlay (10-2) dominated the first half. The Trojans recorded 16 first downs compared to only three for the Tigers. The Trojans limited the Tigers' high-powered offense to three possessions and less than eight minutes of possession. Massillon reached Findlay territory only once.
But Findlay led just 10-7 at the break.
Schneider scored on a four-yard run and Brandon Walker nailed a 49-yard field goal for Findlay.
The Trojans failed to take advantage of some gift-wrapped opportunities as the Tigers were called twice for roughing the kicker, for pass interference and for a personal foul that helped sustain drives.
Findlay got to the Massillon 27 on its first possession but stalled. The Trojans' second possession ended when Caleb Enright was stopped on a fourth-and-one at the 1-yard line.
Zack Kraus gave the Trojans superb field position on the first possession of the second half with a 46-yard punt return to the Massillon 34. Findlay scored in three plays with Enright going 15 and 11 before Schneider hit Andrew Leddy on an eight-yard touchdown pass and a 17-7 lead.
But Massillon responded with three scores during the period to take a 27-17 lead into the fourth quarter. Lanale Robinson made it 17-14 on a one-yard run with 6:07 left in the period.
The Tigers then recovered a fumble in the Trojans' backfield inside Findlay's 30-yard line to set up their go-ahead score.
Bobby Huth connected with Zach Vanryzin for a 29-yard touchdown pass that gave the Tigers a 21-17 lead with 5:13 remaining in the period.
Robinson increased the Tigers' lead when he slipped around the left end on a reverse and scooted 80 yards for a touchdown and a 28-17 Massillon lead 3:20 to play in the third quarter.
Trojans kicker Brandon Walker cut into that margin when he booted a 24-yard field goal with 4:47 remaining to make it a 27-20.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.40.75851 -82.5148