After jumping out to a 27-0 lead, Akron Hoban had to hold on as Nate Moore made sure his Massillon Tigers would not cave after some early adversity.
Playing in front of 16,213 fans, Hoban senior running back Tyris Dickerson got the scoring started with a 13-yard run putting the Knights up 6-0 after Jacob Branham missed the point after attempt.
This is where the game could have totally swung in the favor of the Knights as on their next drive, sophomore quarterback Shane Hamm threw a 46-yard pass to receiver Mason Tipton who never caught the ball or gained possession of the ball as a Tiger defender came down with the ball. However, the official saw things totally different than anyone else watching the game and gave the Knights a catch. On the next play, Hamm would scamper from 23-yards out giving the Knights a 13-0 advantage after Branham connected on the PAT.
The second quarter continued to see the Knights find the end zone as Hamm would score his second rushing touchdown of the night from one-yard out giving Hoban a 27-0 lead.
However, Moore got his team focused on the mountain they would have to climb finding the end zone for the first time when Zion Phifer scored from one-yard out making it 27-7 after Alex Bauer connected on the PAT.
Towards the end of the second quarter, Hoban struck again as Hamm connected with Alabama pledge, junior tight end Caden Clark on a 28-yard strike giving the Knights a 34-7 advantage at the half.
Moore and his staff got the Tigers focused and adjustments were made as Phifer capped off a four-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run closing the gap to 34-14.
The Tigers were not done in the quarter as they used a 13-play, 95-yard drive ending with Kyshad Mack scoring from one-yard out making the score 34-21 and Tiger faithful feeling their team still had a chance to come back and win the title.
The fourth quarter found the Tigers again getting in the end zone when junior quarterback Aidan Longwell hit senior receiver Aydrik Ford on a 67-yard play moving the Tigers to within six points of the Knights at 34-28 while only using 32-seconds in the process.
The Tigers defense looked for another stop to give their offense a chance. However, with 6:23 remaining, Hoban faced 4th & 2 fourth at their 48-yard line. Head coach Tim Tyrrell pulled out a fake punt and watched as Marcus Saahir rushed five-yards for the first down keeping the drive alive. Four plays later, Deamonte Trayanum scored from two-yards out giving the Knights a 42-28 advantage.
On their final drive of the game, Massillon looked ready to respond. However, an illegal block penalty took away a 10-yard completion to the Hoban 11-yard line leaving the Tigers facing a 3-rd and 29 from the Hoban 40-yard line.
On the next play, Longwell saw future Miami RedHawk, Matt Salopek, intercept the ball at the eight-yard line leaving the Knights just over three minutes to run off the clock before claiming their second consecutive DII title and four straight title in a row.
First Star Logistics Players of the Game
Akron Hoban – Tyris Dickerson who rushed for 211-yards and one touchdown while also pulling in a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Massillon Washington – Dean Clark who led the Tigers defense with 15 total tackles including 8 solo stops.
Akron Hoban joins Newark Catholic (1984-87), Cleveland St. Ignatius (1991-95), Maria Stein Marion Local (2011-14) and Coldwater (2012-15) as the only teams in OHSAA history to win four staright titles.
Massillon finished runner-up for the fourth time in as many trips.