FEDERAL LEAGUE Fitch blanks Massillon Perry
The Falcons enjoyed a 247-32 total yards advantage.
PERRY -- During big losses the last two weeks, the Austintown Fitch High defense logged way too much time on the field and simply got worn down.
But in the Falcons' Federal League opener at Massillon Perry Friday night, the unit was called on so little that it barely broke a sweat.
The defense registered four sacks, grabbed three interceptions and limited the Panthers to 32 total yards, including just 9 rushing, as Fitch snapped a two-game losing skid in beating Perry 21-0.
Fitch (2-2) ran its all-time record against Perry to 4-0.
"Our defense has been playing well all year, even though you might not think that looking at the points we gave up the last two weeks," said Fitch coach Neal Kopp. "They've just been spending too much time on the field because the offense hasn't been doing what it's capable of.
"This is the most complete game we've played since the Chaney game. We challenged the kids to play physical tonight and get back to ball control on offense and we were able to do that. To win this league we have to come to Stark County and win and this was a good start."
Fitch offense clicks
The Fitch offense basically gave the defense the week off, as it had its way with the Panthers, piling up 247 total yards, all on the ground. What was more impressive was the fashion in which it was done.
Two of the three Fitch scoring drives lasted over five minutes, thanks to the Falcons' smash-mouth, ball-control offense.
Fitch engineered a 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive to strike first in the second quarter. Dane Stilgenbauer capped the drive with a 2-yard score.
After Perry was flagged for off sides on the point-after attempt, the Falcons elected to go for two and Stilgenbauer barreled in to put Fitch up 8-0.
The Falcons continued to chew up the clock before halftime, this time marching 65 yards in 13 plays covering 5:46.
J.J. Pankewicz finished the effort with a 2-yard plunge. Derek Brendlinger added the extra point to pad Fitch's lead to 15-0.
Fitch defense delivers
Fitch rolled up 172 yards rushing in the first half, while Perry was held to minus-11 yards on the ground and 12 total yards. The Panthers managed just two first downs in the first half.
It was more of the same in the second half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons drove 51 yards in 15 plays, hogging the ball for 7:41 at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter.
After Fitch converted on a fourth-and-1 at the Perry 2, Stilgenbauer scored his second TD of the game from 1 yard out with 11:39 remaining in the game.
Pankewicz led the Fitch ground attack with 119 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. Stilgenbauer added 92 yards and two scores on 22 carries.