MASSILLON - Stung by three early scores, Steubenville hung tough, regrouped and put up quite a battle Friday at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Unfortunately, the early scoring barrage was too much to overcome and Massillon earned a 24-7 victory.
The hosts put 21 points on the board in less than nine minutes to take a lead they never surrendered.
Massillon took the opening kickoff and marched 70 yards in just five plays, all yardage coming via the arm of senior Kyle Kempt. He hit five straight, finishing with a pass to Gareon Conley for a 21-yard score.
Big Red's initial possession resulted in one first down before Luke Smith punted from his own 43. Massillon's Marcus Whitfield initially dropped the ball, chased it down, regained the handle and sprinted 81 yards to the end zone.
Steubenville's defense made a nice stance near midfield following a three-and-out by its offense, forcing the Tigers into an obvious punting situation at their own 45. Instead, coach Jason Hall rolled the dice and punter Brody Tonn found Ryan Rambo for a 31-yard gain. On the next play, Kempt hit Tonn for a 25-yard score.
"We weren't perfect early," Steubenville coach Reno Saccoccia said. "We gave them a quick score and two scores on special teams. We didn't show up in the first quarter at all.''
Big Red finally got a break when the Tigers long snapper sailed one over Tonn's head. The ball bounced into the Massillon end zone where he was able to field it and get off a line drive punt. Tajuan Lawson caught the bullet in full stride and galloped to the Tigers 9. One play later, Dashon Redman plowed over for the score.
Saccoccia then showed his riverboat gambler side, calling for an onside kick. It worked to perfection with Michael Jett recovering at the Massillon 37. Eventually, Matt Petrella was thrown for a 12-yard loss on a reverse pass play and the drive stalled.
"I'll tell you this," Saccoccia said, "that was the turning point in the game. I suggested that reverse pass and that was a bad thing to do. We were running it at them and I got greedy. We should have never run that play, that's on me.
"It was 21-7 and we had the ball on their side of the field. It was a very poor call on my part and I apologize to the team for making it."
The only score of the second half came on a 44-yard field by Anthony McCarthy.
Massillon finished with 288 yards of offense (97 on the ground and 191 through the air) on 47 plays. Kempt passed for 160. Big Red had 143 on 58 plays. Stinson was 11 of 19 for 93 yards. Redman finished with 41 rushing yards to pace Steubenville.
Both teams finish the first half of the 2012 season at 4-1. Massillon now holds a 39-5-2 lead in the overall series. Since the rivalry was restored in 2009, the home team has a pair of victories.