By MATT SEXTON
Just four days before the general election, the Taft Senators’ polling numbers were looking good early in the second half.
The polls, or more accurately the Falcons, came crashing down on Taft in the third quarter.
Taft opened the third quarter with the football. After one first down, a loss of six on the next play put the Senators behind the chains. They lined up to punt.
However, the punter took the low snap on fourth and 16 and saw the Falcons charging for the block. He decided to try to run for it. He was tackled for no gain, and the Falcons were in business at the Taft 28.
“We were going for the block,” CM head coach Dan McSurley said. “We wanted to try to change the momentum. It was a low snap. He might have froze a little bit thinking he didn’t have time to get it off. That’s why I think he took off. We were ready for the fake, but at the same time we were rushing trying for the block.”
Four running plays later — Christian Poynter for 8, Jaycob Wolf for 8, Poynter for 6 and finally Wolf for 6 — ended the short drive in a Falcon touchdown. Massie took the lead for good, 16-12.
Chris’Seon Stringer, the most impressive player on the Senators squad on this night, tried to make a play on the Senators’ first play on the next series. He ran for eight yards but fumbled and Massie recovered at the Taft 48.
“I don’t know who it was — I think maybe one of the O’Bryons — got a nice hit on the Stringer kid,” said McSurley. “He coughed it up. The whole momentum of the game shifted. I think they let down a little bit. We just let our offensive line take over from there.”
The Falcons would grind it out again. Wolf for 13, Poynter for 3, Wolf for 14 and a first down to the 18. A holding penalty stalled the drive, but a Chris Demler field goal made it 19-12.
Taft again would fail to move the ball again, going three and out. A long punt and penalty backed the Falcons up to their own 9.
Massie started on the ground, with two Poynter runs for 9 yards. Then, Devon O’Bryon found Luke Richardson for a 42-yard pass play to the Taft 35.
Clinton-Massie finished the drive on the ground. Wolf for 15, Wolf for 7, Brad Hunt for 4, Wolf for 5, Wolf for 3 and Hunt for 1 and the touchdown. Massie led 26-12, which was the final margin.
Presale strong for Massie, not so much for Taft
Clinton-Massie sold approximately 500 tickets presale, according to CM athletic director Cindy Running.
Taft did not fare as well in presale numbers, selling just 11, Running said.
Presale for next week’s game will begin at noon Tuesday in the Central Office.
Ticket sales will run until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and until noon on Friday.
Tickets will be $8 presale, $9 at the gate on Friday. Clinton-Massie will receive a portion of presale tickets, but none of the ticket sales at the gate.
Clinton-Massie will see a familiar opponent in an unfamiliar round of the playoffs next week.
The Falcons will face Alter, who defeated Indian Hill 54-28 Friday night.
Clinton-Massie and Alter have never met in the second round of the playoffs. The last meeting was in the 2014 regional final, when the Knights defeated the Falcons 35-7 at Monroe High School.
In 2013, the Falcons were victorious over Alter in the regional final 21-14 at Welcome Stadium.
In each case, the winner of the game would advance to the state championship. Alter fell short in 2014 to Benedictine, while Clinton-Massie defeated Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in 2013.