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Clinton-Massie wins back to back state titles
MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) -- It was cold, the wind blew practically non-stop and the field at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium was slippery as a steady snowfall required plows to intermittently clear the field for the Division IV state title game Friday.
The kids from Clarksville Clinton-Massie loved every minute of it. Winning a second straight state championship can do that for you.
Playing in the worst conditions for a state championship game since 2002, the Falcons defeated Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 27-21, in front of 5,289 fans.
The Falcons became the third team to repeat as state champions during the 42nd annual tournament, joining Division VI champion Kirtland and Division III title winner Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Neither of them, however, had to play in such demanding weather conditions as the Falcons, who finished their season with a 14-1 record.
"I was hoping it would snow, I've never played in the snow before," said linebacker Kelson Gauden, who led Clinton-Massie with six solo tackles.
Falcons coach Dan McSurley, whose team was ranked fifth in the final AP poll, said he has been criticized in the past for using the wish-bone offense. Obviously, McSurley has the last laugh.
"It seems that everyone these days wants to throw the ball, run the spread offense," he said. "Everyone wants to see all that fancy stuff that the colleges and pros use, all the stuff you see on Saturdays and Sundays. We run the wish-bone for nights like this. In these weather conditions I can't think of s better offense to run, to be honest."
It worked against Mooney, which was seeking a ninth state title but finished second for the fourth time.
With the weather conditions prompting both clubs to abandon the passing game, Clinton-Massie rushed for 267 yards, and Mooney had 238. The teams combined for 10 passes for a total of 46 yards.
Bayle Wolf, the Associated Press offensive player of the year in Division IV, was the most effective player on the field. The 6-1, 205-pound senior rushed for 172 yards and scored three touchdowns on 33 carries. His younger brother, Chase, gained 93 yards on 20 carries and scored once.
That was enough to counter the running game of unranked Mooney, whose season ended with a 10-5 record. Senior Mark Handel ran for 149 yards and scored twice on 16 carries, and junior C.J. Amill had 71 yards and one score on 12 attempts.
Clinton-Massie scored the game-winning points on a one-yard run by Bayle Wolf with 1:10 to play. A pass interference penalty in the end zone with 2:18 to go on a play that started at the Mooney 22-yard line had put the ball at the 10. Two plays later, Wolf blasted the final three yards for the score.
Amill and Handel staked Mooney to a 21-14 lead as they scored on the Cardinals' first and last possessions of the half. Amill capped a six-play, 68-yard drive with a 25-yard run on Mooney's opening drive and Handel put the finishing touches on 31-yard drive with a 12-yard run following a fumble recovery by junior Roosevelt Cooper.
The Falcons tied the score at 21-21 in the third quarter by driving 70 yards on 12 plays, with Bayle Wolf covering the final yard.