Clinton-Massie wins D4 state title

MASSILLON – Senior Bayle Wolf scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard run with one minute, 10 seconds remaining as Clarksville Clinton-Massie won its second consecutive Division IV state championship with a 27-21 victory over Youngtown Cardinal Mooney on a snow-swept field at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

Junior linebacker Jared Halley sealed the victory with an interception with 0:30 remaining.

Clinton-Massie, 14-1 and ranked No. 5 in the final Associated Press state poll, trailed 21-14 at halftime but shutout Mooney (10-5) and held the Cardinals to just 76 yards in the second half. Wolf finished with 172 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries, while younger brother Chayse added 91 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

The 21 points scored by Mooney equaled the most allowed all season by Clinton-Massie.

“We really didn’t change anything at all,” said senior linebacker Kelson Gauden about the second half defense. “We just stepped up and followed the game plan. We had a rocky start. We weren’t ready for the snow, I don’t think, and we weren’t playing fast like we normally do. The second half we challenged our defense to step up and they did. We told them to bring the hits, play fast and don’t worry about slipping. If you slip, do it 100 miles an hour and good things will happen.”

Bayle Wolf’s deciding touchdown was set up by a short Mooney punt and then a defensive pass interference call in the end zone on a fourth-and-10 play from the Mooney 20-yard line.

Clinton-Massie finished with a 294-258 advantage in total offense. The Falcons committed just one penalty and turned the ball over just once despite the snowy conditions.

“Both of the Wolf boys ran like beasts,” said Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley. “All of our guys did their part but I think ultimately where the game was won was upfront in the trenches. Our offensive line has stepped up each week and progressively gotten better and better. They were the heart and soul of our football team and got it done when we needed to get it done.”

Heavy snow began falling before the 3 p.m. kickoff and continued throughout the game. The Paul Brown Tiger Stadium grounds crew used snowplows to clear off yard lines and the goal lines in the first half and was able to clear the field of the thicker accumulated snow at halftime.

There was not going to be any confusion on where the offenses were going to come from regardless of weather conditions. Both teams relied heavily on their run games this season. Mark Handel led Mooney with 1,213 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, while C.J. Amill was right behind him with 1,210 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Wolf brothers combined for 3,143 yards and 28 rushing touchdowns this season for Clinton-Massie.

Mooney has won eight state titles, tied with Cincinnati Moeller and Newark Catholic for second-most all-time behind the 11 championships won by Cleveland St. Ignatius. The Cardinals have won four titles in seven trips under coach P.J. Fecko. Moeller plays Mentor for the Division I title Saturday at 3 p.m. at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

“I don’t think there’s a loss in any game that doesn’t wear on you as a competitor,” said Fecko. “Every single loss bothers you. Obviously being in the state finals so many times, those are written about a little more. You have a competitive edge and competitive juices about you. It’s part of the game. You’re determined even more to reach back and get back in the saddle, get up off the ground, dust yourself off and get back in there and do it again.”
Clinton-Massie won its first state title last season, beating St. Clairsville 46-36 in much drier conditions. Bayle Wolf equaled a Division IV state record with five touchdowns in that game – four rushing and one receiving – and it was his 8-yard run with 2:17 left in the first quarter that enabled the Falcons to tie the score, 7-7.

Amill had put the Cardinals on top 7-0 with a 25-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game. Handel put Mooney back on top just 22 seconds after Wolf’s touchdown with a 68-yard touchdown run. He later added a 13-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds left in the half as Mooney took advantage of a Clinton-Massie fumble at the Falcons’ 31-yard line to take a 21-14 lead into the locker room.

Handel ended the game with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, while Amill had 67 yards on the one touchdown on 12 carries.

Chayse Wolf scored on a 20-yard run on a third-and-9 play with 9:14 left in the second quarter to even the score, 14-14.

The Falcons tied the game, 21-21, with a 12-play, 70-yard drive on their opening possession of the third quarter. Bayle Wolf finished off the drive with a 1-yard run.

“Playing with my brother is unbelievable and something a lot of people don’t get to do,” said Bayle Wolf. “But coach said it best: the offensive line really stepped up and they really are the heart and soul of this team.”