By Pete Mollica
Warren Harding senior tailback Demond Hymes couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate his 19th birthday.
The 5-10, 189 pound speedster had an outstanding night Friday as he rushed for 334 yards on 35 carries and scored two touchdowns in leading the Raiders (6-2) to an impressive 20-6 victory over the Massillon Tigers at Mollenkopf Stadium.
The way Hymes accumulated his yardage was even more impressive as he ran over, around and through the Tiger defense and his second and third efforts were just too much for the Tigers to handle.
But then Hymes will be the first one to tell you just how impressive the Raiders offensive line was in front of him.
“My line just did a great job tonight and really made my job easy,” Hymes said. “We knew coming into this game that it was a must win for us to stay alive for the playoffs and it was a complete team effort.
Hymes, who had 10 carries over 10 yards in the contest, wasn’t the Raiders’ only outstanding weapon against Massillon as the Harding defense came up with a tremendous effort also.
Harding held the Tigers to just 39 rushing yards, although sophomore quarterback Kyle Kempt did pass for 251 yards, but was forced to throw the football 37 times, completing 18, including one touchdown.
“It was a great week of practice and everybody knew what we needed to do tonight,” said Harding coach D.J. Dota.
We knew we were a better team than the one that showed up last week against Mentor. Demond had a great night and our defense did a great job against them.
Massillon head coach Jason Hall, who saw his team drop to 6-2 on the year after six straight wins, was also impressed by the Raiders.
“Hymes is a great back and against a great back you have to tackle well and we didn’t do that tonight,” he said. “We’re not a big team and we must play very physical to be in the game and we didn’t do that either.”
The Raiders, who a week ago were held to under 40 yards rushing, wasted little time in establishing their running game against the Tigers.
On the opening drive Harding marched 84 yards in 15 play before senior kicker Moses Sosa was called on to convert a 33 yard field goal.
After stopping the Tigers on the next series Harding again went to the ground as Hymes carried just three times, the last one for 45 yards after he picked up a fumble by quarterback Mikhail Seawood, broke several tackles and scampered all the way to the end zone.
Sosa added a 37-yard field goal early in the second quarter for a 13-0 lead before Massillon finally got on the scoreboard with no time left on the clock when Kempt fired a 22 yard scoring strike to Jacar Roberson.
Harding’s final score came after the defense snuffed out a Massillon drive and it took just three plays, all runs by Hymes, to get to the end zone from 82 yards out. His first two carries were for 24 and 58 yards and then he capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.