Warren Harding traveled to Mineral Ridge to face Cardinal Mooney in what turned out to be an electric come from behind victory for the Raiders. Harding started off fast with an offensive first drive touchdown on a play-action pass from Chaz Coleman to Ryan Powell to get the first points on the board. Kicker Jake Daugherty missed the extra point and Harding led 6-0 in quick fashion.
Mooney orchestrated a nice long touchdown drive and took a 7-6 lead with just a few minutes left before halftime. Harding's offense got into rhythm once again and Daugherty made up for his first missed kick and nailed a field goal to give the Raiders the lead 9-7 heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, it was the Mooney show as the Cardinals reached the end zone twice. Before this occurred, Harding put together a nice drive right out of the locker room and set their offense up at the one-yard line, up 9-7 with the chance to put the game out of reach for Mooney late in the third quarter. Mooney forced a fumble on the one-yard line and Harding's frustration mounted large on the sidelines. The defense then allowed a 99-yard touchdown drive to give Mooney the lead right back.
On the ensuing kickoff, Harding's returner was pinned back at the one-yard line and the offense stalled and punted the ball back to Mooney with a short field to go. That is when quarterback Ashton O'Brien found receiver Carlos Gomez for a 32-yard strike to give Mooney a two-touchdown lead with several minutes remaining in the third quarter. While all momentum has shifted to the Cardinals, a spark was provided with under two minutes in the third when Harding punted the football back to Mooney and they muffed the punt. Three plays later, quarterback Chaz Coleman found the endzone and Harding was in striking distance once again.
The Cardinals started at their own 20-yard line on the ensuing drive and chewed a lot of the clock in the fourth quarter. They reached the red zone but could not finish the drive and had to attempt a 24-yard field goal but it went wide and the Raiders took over down by 5 with several minutes left remaining in the fourth.
Chaz Coleman hit Marcus Crum on a 25-yard pass and then Javontae Jones turned on the jets and hit the hole for a nice 14-yard run to get the Raiders near the end zone with under two minutes to play. The center for Harding snapped the football way over the head of the 6'4" Coleman and with no timeouts remaining, if Coleman did not recover this football, the game was over. In what was an incredible effort and the fans and coaches are still pondering just how he did it, Coleman recovered and the rest was history as he reached the end zone from two-yards out, giving the Raiders the lead once again with just 30+ seconds left in the fourth quarter. The two point conversion was converted on a slant route and the Raiders led 24-21 and then their defense sealed the game, moving the Harding Raiders to 4-4 on the season and in prime position to play in a playoff game in week 11.
Traveling to Massillon and facing the Tigers is no easy task for the Raiders, but when the Tigers are 8-0 and are nationally ranked, it makes the matchup even more challenging. The 4-4 Raiders have won over their last three games and found ways to pull it together. Massillon is looking to continue to instill their dominance and the most points they have allowed all season was in week one versus Valdosta (GA) and that was only 17 points. Massillon's offense, defense and special teams are playing complementary football and are impactful each and every week.
Head coach Nate Moore is in his ninth season at the helm and currently is only a handful of games away from reaching 100 wins at Massillon, a feat that very rarely occurs. Moore's record is 91-22 and his team is sitting at 8-0 and is outscoring opponents 316-68. This week is no different and after beating a very solid Austintown Fitch team at their own house 42-7, Massillon's confidence continues to rise as they look to face the Raiders in this week 9 matchup.
Establishing a running game is the goal that many teams want to accomplish each week. When a team runs the football efficiently and effectively, it opens up the passing attack and everything offensively clicks on all cylinders. Massillon's offense over the last several weeks has relied on running back Ja'Meir Gamble. Gamble versus Austintown Fitch ran for 233 rushing yards and two touchdowns. According to an article and Tweet I read earlier today, Gamble was just six yards shy of having the 10th most rushing yards in a single game... What an accomplishment and that starts up front with the offensive line and their abilities to give Gamble room to work with.
Massillon's offense is led by senior quarterback DaOne Owens, a different signal caller from a season ago when the Raiders faced Massillon. Slaughter was the team's quarterback last season and while he is still on the team, the Tigers have made the switch to Owens who in the first five games of the season has put together a nice showing rushing for over 600-yards and eight touchdowns. Owens also threw for close to 300-yards and four touchdowns. These statistics are for the first five games of the season.
We are currently heading into week 9 and he continues to make impact plays on offense. Currently, as of the most recent Fitch game, Owens has 783 rushing yards and is now Massillon's all-time leading rusher for the quarterback position.
Massillon's offense is stout up front with their offensive line, their running backs, especially Gamble, has made a living gaining hard fought yardage, and their senior quarterback DaOne Owens is having one heck of a season and is a dual-threat who can do it all.
The Harding Raiders need to put together a very strong offensive game plan this week against a Massillon Washington defense that has allowed an average of 9-points per game. While Massillon's opponents are extremely talented, the Tigers' defense does not care. They are playing lights out football and are physical up front and play a multitude of coverages on the backend. Massillon prevented Fitch from getting their very good running game going. They just allowed 12 total rushing yards according to the stat sheet.
Massillon runs a few different defensive fronts but they mainly run a 3-man front, which gives them options in the secondary to confuse opposing quarterbacks. The coverages they run include cover 0, cover 1, cover 2 read, cover 3, cover 4 lock, etc. As you can see, they run a multitude of defensive coverages and they seem to be able to handle it as the most points they allowed were 17 and that was from week one. Massillon has fixed their mistakes and the second most points allowed was in week 5 versus St. Edwards in which they won 15-13 and allowed 13 points.
Overall, Massillon will play you tough up front and are known for their pursuit and ability to make tackles in the open field. If Harding wants to score touchdowns at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday night, they must establish a running game and let Chaz Coleman make plays with his legs and his arm.
This could be the perfect week for Harding to face Massillon as the Raiders are currently on a 3-game winning streak and Massillon could be looking ahead to face their rival Canton McKinley, who is sitting at a 7-1 record. If that does not happen and the Tigers come to play, it is up to the Raiders to keep drives alive and maintain and win the time of possession game. If they can win the time of possession through long drives and can stop the run game that Massillon will try to establish, it could be possible, even though it will certainly be a challenge.
Good News: Harding is 4-4 on the season and while nothing is official yet, it looks like week 11 and the playoffs are looking very possible due to the playoff point system. More details will follow in the coming weeks and we will keep you updated on WGHFootball.com.
At a Glance:
Warren Harding Raiders
Head Coach: Steven Arnold
Record: 68-57 (4-4 - 2023)
Years as HC: 12
Record Last Year: 2-8
League: All-American Conference
Defense: 3-4, Multiple
Aug. 18 - Canton McKinley - Loss - 14-33
Aug. 26 - at Akron Buchtel - Win - 20-16
Sept. 1 - Farrell - Loss - 17-24
Sept. 8 - at St. Vincent St. Mary - Loss - 28-42
Sept. 15 - at Ursuline - Loss - 20-56
Sept. 22 - Chaney - Win - 26-7
Sept. 29 - Boardman - Win - 38-20
Oct. 6 - at Cardinal Mooney - Win - 24-21
Oct. 13 - at Massillon
Oct. 20 - Austintown Fitch
Head Coach: Nate Moore
Record: 91-22 (Includes 8-0 this Year)
Years as HC: 9
Record Last Year: 12-2
Defense: 3-4, 3-4 Tite, 5-man (Multiple)
Aug. 18 - Valdosta (GA) - Win - 28-17
Aug. 25 - GlenOak - Win - 56-7
Sept. 1 - Mansfield Senior - Win - 51-10
Sept. 8 - Elkhart (IN) - Win - 55-0
Sept. 15 - St. Edward - Win - 15-13
Sept. 22 - Middletown (DE) - Win - 41-7
Sept. 29 - St. John's College (DC) - Win - 28-7
Oct. 6 - at Austintown Fitch - Win - 42-7
Oct. 13 - Warren G. Harding
Oct. 21 - at Canton McKinley
The Raiders will face off against the Massillon Tigers on Friday, October 13th 7 p.m. at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.
Address: 1 Paul E Brown Dr SE, Massillon, OH 44646