Harris’ day leads Walsh to victory
By TODD PORTER
Repository sports writer
CANTON — Four years ago, two NAIA football babies were born.
And Walsh University is walking while its sibling from Tri-State University crawls. The defense hit harder, the offense was crisper and running back Demetrius Harris, like the favored child, got most of the attention.
The Cavs, ranked three spots behind the Thunder in the latest NAIA poll, never trailed in defeating Tri-State 34-17 at Fawcett Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“I guess we’re a step ahead of them today,” said Walsh head coach Jim Dennison, who remembers losing to the Thunder in overtime last year.
Harris has not been around since the birth of Walsh football in 1995, the same year Tri-State developed a team. Both schools have produced two of the better NAIA squads in the country.
But Harris was in a class by himself. He sat out last season before transferring to Walsh from Division I-AA Youngstown State. He finished the game with 189 yards on 31 carries.
“The hogs led the way,” Harris said of the starting offensive line. “They opened up huge holes all day and I followed them and my fullback, Ben Spillar.
“Coach Dennison has talked about shocking the nation, and that’s what we have to do. A lot of different circumstances brought me here, and I’m happy to be here around people who care about you.”
Coming into the game, Tri-State’s offense got much of the attention. Thunder quarterback Nick Wellman leads the Mid-States Football Association in passing yards and total offense.
But it was Harris who grabbed the spotlight early, and didn’t let go until the game was in hand in the fourth quarter.
He led a Cavaliers offense that produced 503 total yards and dominated Tri-State in every aspect.
Walsh had more yards than Tri-State (332), more plays (77-51), twice as many first downs (29-14) and more time of possession (37:28-22:32). This after last week’s game when the Cavs kept the ball for 38 minutes.
“We had to because of their explosive offense,” Dennison said. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised at everything, we just executed the game plan perfectly.”
Walsh punted just once, and scored on every drive except two.
There were jaw-popping hits like the one freshman defensive Kevin Vaughn laid on Thunder running back Michael Newbill in the fourth quarter. Vaughn hit Newbill after the running back caught a screen pass at the 10-yard line. Newbill’s feet were higher than his eyes as he was flipped on his back.
“They dominated us,” Tri-State head coach Dale Carlson said. “It’s pretty disappointing the way we played.”
Carlson gave credit to the Cavs, but he told his players they were still in the MSFA hunt because “I don’t expect them to win every one of their games.”
The Cavaliers play host to fourth-ranked Taylor University next week.
“No one has really given us much respect,” said quarterback Chris Pullen, who finished with 168 yards and three touchdown passes. “You could say we had some revenge to get after last year and being ranked behind them, but we have a very tough one next week.”
Pullen got Walsh’s offense moving. After Harris was stuffed on the first two plays of the game, he completed a 32-yard pass to Ron Winphrie on third-and-12. The ball was tipped by Tri-State’s Andreas Parsley, who had excellent coverage. Winphrie managed to catch the ball and stay in bounds on the left sideline. He finished with 147 yards on seven catches and a touchdown.
“That was a big play because after that, the guys looked like ‘Yeah, we got some momentum, now let’s get this thing moving,’ ” Pullen said.
It also forced the Thunder to respect the pass and pull defenders off the line of scrimmage who were keying on Harris.
Walsh opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Pullen found tight end Adam Maurer in the left corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
After three Tri-State plays and a punt, Walsh was back at it.
Maurer and Pullen connected on another 11-yard score. Jeff Johnston’s PAT made it 14-0.
Tri-State put 10 points on the board in the second quarter, but Walsh added three thanks to Jeff Johnston’s leg. He booted a 28-yard field goal. The Cavaliers scored on all of their first-half possessions, except the last. Johnston’s 46-yard attempt was blocked.
As soon as the second half started, Tri-State ran into a wall. The Thunder punted on their first possession, a shank job and the Cavs took over inside the Tri-State 40. Spillar scored on a 36-yard run to make it 24-10.
“We had opportunities, but Walsh kept coming right back,” Carlson said. “We just couldn’t stop their offense.”
Little brother usually has a tough time topping big brother.
Three MSFA teams continued their unbeaten campaigns over the weekend, 14th-ranked WALSH, Ohio improving to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Mideast League. The Cavaliers share the league’s top spot with SAINT FRANCIS, Ind., a second-year grid program, at 2-0. In the Midwest League, No.4-ranked TAYLOR, Ind. and No.7 McKENDREE, Ill. also climbed to 5-0. The pair are also 2-0 in the MWL standings along with defending champion OLIVET NAZARENE, Ill.
This week’s key matchup will see co-leaders WALSH and TAYLOR squaring off in Canton, Ohio. WALSH is off to its best start ever and posted a 34-0 victory over TAYLOR in its only confrontation in 1996. SAINT FRANCIS seeks its third straight MEL win against invading URBANA; McKENDREE is on the road at SAINT XAVIER, Ill.; and OLIVET NAZARENE travels to IOWA WESLEYAN.
DEMETRIUS HARRIS (5-11, 190, Soph, TB, Brunswick, Ohio), Walsh, provided 189 yards rushing on 31 carries against Tri-State
KEVIN VAUGHN (6-0, 200, Fr, DB, Akron, Ohio), Walsh, came away with 5 solo tackles, 3 assists, a sack for a minus 7 yards and two tackles for a loss of 9 yards
FIRST QUARTERWALSH.....Maurer 11 pass from Pullen (Johnston kick) 4:06 WALSH.....Maurer 10 pass from Pullen (Johnston kick) 5:51
SECOND QUARTERTSU.......Forsman 34 field goal 13.24 WALSH.....Johnston 28 FG, 6:50 TSU.......Newbill 1 run (Forsman kick) 3:25
THIRD QUARTERWALSH.....Spillar 28 run (Johnston kick), 11:58 TSU.......Miller 15 pass from Wellman (Forsman kick) 7:37 WALSH.....Johnston 33 field goal 1:47 FOURTH QUARTERWALSH.....Winphrie 22 pass from Pullen (Johnston kick) 11:16
RECORDS:TRI-STATE 3-2 ; WALSH 5-0
|time of possession||22:32||37:38|
Taylor 33, Walsh 21 CANTON — John Jenkins passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as Taylor built a 33-0 lead and went on to beat Walsh at Fawcett Stadium. Jenkins threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Ben Godfrey in the first quarter and a 10-yard score to Josh Kijanko in the second for Taylor (6-0). Jenkins, who ran for a 2-yard score in the second quarter, was 11 of 18 for 218 yards. Walsh (5-1) didn’t score until late in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Demetris Harris, who rushed for 102 yards on 19 carries. Walsh quarterback Chris Pullen threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Ron Winphrie and scored on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter. Pullen was 7 of 26 for 179 yards and two interceptions. Quin Hirschy ran for 81 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown for Taylor.
FIRST QUARTERTaylor.....Godfrey 29 pass from Jenkins (Moser kick), 10:32
SECOND QUARTERTaylor.....Hirschy 1 run (Moser kick), 14:16 Taylor.....Kijanko 10 pass from Jenkins (Moser kick), 8:27 Taylor.....Jenkins 2 run (kick blocked), 4:06
THIRD QUARTERTaylor.....Moser 24 field goal, 6:23 Taylor.....Moser 42 field goal, 2:31 Walsh......Harris 1 run (Johnston kick), :29 FOURTH QUARTERWalsh......Winphrie 62 pass from Pullen (Johnston kick), 14:36 Walsh......Pullen 5 run (Johnston kick), 7:13
RECORDS:TAYLOR 6-0 ; WALSH 5-1
|time of possession||38:03||21:57|
BEAVER FALLS, Pa. — Geneva raced out to a 35-14 haltime lead en route to a 42-20 Mid-States Football Association Mideast League victory over Walsh on Saturday night.
Melvin Cobbs broke his single-game rushing record by rolling for 261 yards on 32 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns for Geneva (4-3, 3-1).
Demitri Harris rushed for 202 yards on 20 carries to lead the Cavaliers and scored a pair of first-half touchdowns. Walsh’s other score came on a 14-yard TD run by quarterback Chris Pullin in the third quarter.
Geneva rolled up 569 yards in total offense while limiting Walsh to 316.
Geneva 42, Walsh 20 -- Justin Myers threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth as host Geneva (5-3, 3-1 Mid-States Mideast) got the easy win. Demetri Harris scored two touchdowns in the first quarter for Walsh (5-2, 2-1). Harris ran 1 yard for the first and 97 yards for the second.
PERRY TWP. — Senior tailback Demetrius Harris rushed for 209 yards and scored three touchdowns, and the Walsh defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns Saturday afternoon, as the Cavaliers built a 42-18 lead and hung on to beat Tiffin 42-37. Walsh (6-2 overall, 3-1 Mid-States Football Association) remained in the race for an Eastern League championship and NAIA national playoff berth with the victory. Tiffin fell to 5-4, 2-3. The Cavs play at winless Urbana on Saturday, then play host to St. Francis (Ind.) on Nov. 13 at Fawcett Stadium. Harris scored on runs of 11, 26 and 80 yards. His first TD came after Tiffin’s Terrell Dixon fumbled the opening kickoff. His 80-yard score came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Jesse Schmitz returned an interception 12 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Mack Mitchell returned an interception a school-record 88 yards for a score. Tiffin quarterback Joe Perchinske, from GlenOak High School threw two touchdown passes, 29 yards to Willie Spencer and 7 yards to Eric Ewen, and scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter. Spencer, from Massillon, caught seven passes for 144 yards.
FIRST QUARTERWALSH......Harris 11 run (Johnston kick), 14:44 TIFFIN.....FG Neidenoff 38, 11:07 TIFFIN.....Spencer 5 pass from Whitfield (Neidenoff kick), 4:23 WALSH......Harris 26 run (Johnston kick), 2:22 WALSH......Schmitz 12 interception return (Johnston kick>, 1:05
THIRD QUARTERWALSH......Harris 80 run (Johnston kick), 14:39 WALSH......Mitchell 88 interception return (Johnston kick), 9:59 TIFFIN.....Dixon 14 run (Lockhart pass from Whitfield), 8:14 WALSH......Spillar 17 run (Johnston kick), 3:07 FOURTH QUARTERTIFFIN.....Spencer 29 pass from Perchinske (run failed), 12:19 TIFFIN.....Perchinske 2 run (pass failed), 4:27 TIFFIN.....Ewen 7 pass from Perchinske (Neidenoff kick), 2:27
RECORDS:TIFFIN 5-4 ; WALSH 6-2
|time of possession||30:15||29:45|
URBANA — Walsh running back Demetrius Harris set a school single-season record for yards in a season as he rushed for 112 yards in the Cavaliers’ win.
The 18th-ranked Cavaliers were led by Harris, who had a pair of rushing touchdowns, as Walsh led 21-10 with 12:01 to go in the second quarter after his second touchdown run.
The 1-8 Blue Knights would not go away quietly, as they scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Eric Smith to Lamar Kendall midway through the second quarter.
Walsh, which moves to 7-2, 4-1 on the season, got a third quarter touchdown on a 63-pass play from Chris Pullen to Ron Winphrie.
Walsh 28, Urbana 24 -- Ron Winphrie caught a pair of touchdown passes from Chris Pullen and Demetrius Harris rushed for 112 yards and two scores as Walsh (7-2, 4-1 MSFA) beat host Urbana (1-8. 0-5). Winphrie caught TD passes covering 54 and 63 yards from Pullen, who completed 6-of-13 passes for 177 yards.
FIRST QUARTERWALSH.....Winphrie 54 pass from Pullen (kick blocked), 5:06 Urbana....FG Kirby 28, 6:34
SECOND QUARTERWALSH.....Harris 2 run (Mauer pass completion), 14:57 URBANA....Knorr 75 pass from Smith (Kirby kick), 14:33 WALSH.....Harris 3 run (Johnston kick), 12:01 URBANA....Kendall 7 pass from Smith (Kirby), 7:07
THIRD QUARTERWALSH.....Winphrie 63 pass from Pullen (Johnston kick), 14:38 FOURTH QUARTERURBANA....Knorr 5 pass from Smith (Smith run), 7:14
RECORDS:URBANA 1-8 ; WALSH 7-2
|time of possession||29:13||32:15|
By FELLICIA SMITH
Repository sports writer
CANTON — For a game that had more than 900 yards in total offense, it really wasn’t a game of offense that gave St. Francis the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League championship and a berth to the NAIA playoffs.
It was defense that allowed St. Francis to defeat Walsh University 40-23, in college football Saturday afternoon.
“They say you win championships with defense,” St. Francis head coach Kevin Donely said. “On offense we played well enough to win as a team.”
St. Francis held Walsh’s all-time single season rushing leader Demetrius Harris to just 72 yards. Walsh quarterback Chris Pullen had 148 yards in the air, but he was also intercepted twice with one returned for a touchdown. The Cavaliers only had two fumbles, but lost possession on both. And Walsh had to punt the ball four times.
“What’s different from last year is our defense,” Donley said. In the school’s first football season the team was 2-8. This year the team finished the regular season 8-2. “Obviously this is a tremendous accomplishment to be here and win against Walsh.”
St. Francis began its scoring on a 63-yard drive from its own 37-yard line, Jeremy Hibbeln threw passes for 21 and 19 yards and then handed the ball to Eric Johnson, who scored on a 23-yard touchdown run. An extra point by Joe Klimaksi put the Cougars up 7-0.
Late in the first quarter Walsh started a drive on its own 10-yard line, but two plays into the drive, the Cavaliers fumbled the ball. St. Francis recovered on the Walsh 19-yard line. The Cougars were down to fourth-and-10 on the 19 when Hibbeln connected with tight end Tom Grasha for a 18 yard pass that took the Cougars to the 1. The next play, Grasha ran the ball in for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Cougars a 14-0 lead.
The Cavaliers went on the attack with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Pullen hit Ben Spillar for a 52-yard pass. Walsh couldn’t move the ball any farther and on fourth-and-11th the Cavaliers kicked a 36-yard field goal. Jeff Johnston’s kick made it 14-3.
In the second quarter St. Francis moved the ball through the air to score. In its second drive of the quarter, St. Francis started its drive on its own 49 yard line. Hibbeln threw for 46 yards, including a 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Cougars a 20-3 lead, after the extra point attempt was missed.
With only 58 seconds left in the first half, Walsh had the ball on its own it own 34 . Pullen ran for 11 yards and threw the ball for 34 more to get in field goal range. Johnston them made a 37-yard field goal as time ran out. The halftime score was 20-6
Opening the third quarter, the Cavaliers came out with an attitude and the moves to get the game back within striking distance. And it all happened within 30 seconds.
Walsh used 13 plays on an 80-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run by Demetris Harris at 9:56. The extra point by Johnston cut the Cougars lead to 20-13.
St. Francis fumbled on its first play of the third quarter. Walsh recovered on the Cougars’ 19. On the next play Harris used a stiff arm and leaped over a defender to get into the end zone on a 19-yard run at 9:33. With the extra point attempt good Walsh tied the score 20-20.
“We came back and placed ourselves in position to win,” Walsh head coach Jim Dennison said. “We had good effort, but our execution was not there.”
Walsh caused another Cougar fumble minutes later, but couldn’t capitalize on the turnover. The St. Francis offense and defense seemed to settled down.
On offense the Cougars needed just four plays to score on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Hibbeln to his favorite target, Jeremy Dutcher. The extra point was no good, but the Cougars were up 26-20.
Walsh tried a 22-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter, but it was wide right. St. Francis fumbled on its next possession, but again the Walsh offense was checked. The Cavaliers tried a 45 yard field goal, but this time it went wide left.
“It hurts when you get a chance but the momentum swings,” Dennison said. “When you have the chance to make plays, you have to make sure you do.”
With nine minutes left in the game, Walsh again tried another field goal. This time Johnston connected on a 35-yarder. That cut the lead to 26-23.
St. Francis wasn’t taking any chances. On the Cougars next possession, the offense drove the ball 65 yards in 10 plays. The drive included a 24-yard pass to the 1 on a fourth-and-six play. Ponder then ran the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown with four minutes remaining to give St. Francis a 33-23 lead after the extra point.
With a just over a minute remaining, Walsh tried to move the ball downfield, but Hibbeln was intercepted by Josh Todd who ran the ball back for a 40-yard touchdown. With the extra point St. Francis sealed the scoring at 40-23.
FIRST QUARTERSt. Francis....Johnson 23 run (Klimaski kick) 9:12 St. Francis....Grasha 1 run (Klimaski kick) 2:36 Walsh..........Johnston 36 field goal 1:04
SECOND QUARTERSt. Francis....James 8 pass from Hibbain (kick failed) 3:48 Walsh..........Johnston 37 field goal 0:00
THIRD QUARTERWalsh..........Harris 1 run (Johnston kick)9:55 Walsh..........Harris 19 run (Johnston kick) 9:33 St. Francis....Dutcher 56 pass from hibbein (kick failed) 4:46 FOURTH QUARTERWalsh..........Johnston 35 field goal 7:55 St. Francis....Ponder 1 run (Privett kick) 4:23 St. Francis....Todd 40 interception return 1:15
RECORDS:ST. FRANCIS 8-2 ; WALSH 7-3
|time of possession||33:12||26:48|