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Let’s do it again

WGH visits Massillon for rematch with Tigers

Correspondent file photo / Michael Taylor Elizah Smith (7) of Warren G. Harding fights for yardage in a game against Cardinal Mooney. The Raiders travel to Massillon tonight for the first round of the playoffs.

WARREN — Massillon came into Mollenkopf Stadium in Week 3, displaying its offensive and defensive skills against Warren G. Harding’s football team in a 49-7 rout.

Aiden Longwell had 200 yards passing and two scores. Longwell, a Kent State University baseball recruit, has more than 1,700 yards passing and 20 scores.

The Ohio State University commit Jayden Ballard had about 100 of Longwell’s yards and both TDs. Terrance Keyes rushed through the Raiders defense. Keyes has almost 1,300 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, while Ballard is the main receiving target with more than 800 yards and 14 TDs.

Harding had plenty of three-and-outs during this game.

Kent State football commit Luke Murphy leads the Tigers with 42 tackles, while Caiden Woullard had 13 tackles for loss and four sacks.

This is the 10-0 Tigers, the Division II Associated Press poll champion. Massillon, the No. 1 team in Division II, Region 5, hosts, eighth-seeded Harding (7-3) tonight at 7 p.m., at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. Massillon has won the last three meetings.

“There’s no question they are very good,” Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “You don’t go 10-0 and win games this handily as they’ve done throughout the course of this season. They’re a very good team.

Every team has a weakness. You’ve got to find it.”

Massillon has Longwell, but the Raiders have junior Elijah Taylor, who has thrown for more than 1,700 yards in a Raiders offense normally predicated on the run.

Elizah Smith, Emari Burgess and Marcus Brown have been steadily improving the ground game for Harding throughout the season, as well as the young offensive line.

“We can’t put the entire load offensively on Elijah,” Arnold said. “Your quarterback is only as good as your running game, and obviously your line keeping him off the ground and opening up holes.

“It’s got to be a collective effort from us offensively, but your quarterback has to play well.”

Getting to Longwell and the rest of the Massillon offense is a must if the Raiders do not want a repeat of Week 3’s lopsided score at Mollenkopf Stadium.

“You’ve got to try to get pressure on the quarterback,” Arnold said. “We’re going to try to get pressure on him, hurry him. You’ve got to hit him as much as possible, clean. Just get pressure on him. If he takes off and runs, we’ve got to make him feel it. There’s no question, he’s a very good quarterback.”

Massillon has a 55-25-3 series record against the Raiders, dating back to 1921. Harding’s last win against the Tigers was when University of Kentucky standout Lynn Bowden ran for five touchdowns and almost 300 yards in a 41-28 win on Sept. 9, 2016.

“They have a lot of history. It’s not like our history is chopped liver,” Arnold said. “We have history as well. We happen to be on the road, playing in a great environment down in Massillon on Friday night. We look forward to that opportunity.

“I talked to our kids Saturday and Sunday about not getting caught up in the environment. Just go play the game and have fun. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

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