MASSILLON – EPISODE FIVE: ON HALLOWED GROUND

GAME 2 approaches. STEWART is desperate, as the Tigers had never lost a game since the ringers arrived from Pittsburgh a few years earlier. This game is do or die for the Tigers’ dynasty, and Stewart’s legacy. He realizes he must match Canton’s kicking game in order to defeat them. Intel leads him to HOMER DAVIDSON, a young wiry boy of 18, still in high school up in Cleveland. Although Davidson is still has amateur status, Stewart recruits him anyway as kicker and QB. WIGHTMAN is dubious about the move since Davidson is unfamiliar with the team’s plays, but Stewart forces him to start the kid. Stewart is sure that EAST gave Canton the advantage in Game 1 by giving Wallace their plays before he left town, so he plans to change the plays anyway.

Canton’s BULL SMITH, one of Blondy’s loyal Penn alums, approaches Wallace and tells him that he’s moving on due to not getting paid his salary. Wallace tells him to be patient, as others have, and that when Canton wins, there will be big bonuses for all the players. Bull isn’t so confident. It’s the first sign of a crack in the team.

CASSIE sees how the town is euphoric in victory. She’s counting on Wallace’s ability to continue charming the town, so she can continue trying to charm him.

Smart money is being placed on Massillon winning Game 2 on its home field and avenging its only loss in its pro era. Wallace smells something brewing but can’t figure out what it is.

GAME TIME – Asylum Field on the grounds of Massillon’s state mental health facility looks pristine, unlike Mahaffey Park in Canton the week before. The weather is perfect. A massive crowd shows up for the game hungry for revenge. Cassie steals a moment with Blondy to wish her man well, knowing that a loss could doom their relationship if he isn’t retained after the season.

There’s controversy at the coin toss as Massillon again presents the smaller “Victor” brand ball as the game ball. Canton’s protest falls on deaf ears. Home team’s choice.

Davidson proves a worthy pickup for Massillon. His running and kicking dominate play. The Bulldogs can’t believe that the skinny high schooler is that good. Wallace makes a plan to take him out, like he did to MAXWELL in college. A massive punt by Davidson is the turning point as the Tigers recover a fumbled Bulldogs return at Canton’s 2-yard line. One play later, Massillon plunges across the goal line for a 5-0 lead. Instead of exposing Davidson to injury in a Canton siege while kicking the extra point, Maxwell takes his place to kick the extra point. It’s on another unusual angle. He misses the kick, but still enjoys foiling Wallace and standing up to STEVENSON after the play.

Canton drives down the field just before halftime. They look like they are going to score when the Bulldogs fumble at the one. Massillon recovers after a brutal pileup. It’s 5-0 Massillon at the half.

Canton already looks beaten coming off the field. Their fans are throwing rotten tomatoes at their locker room door. Wallace has a new player of his own he’s been waiting to spring, if necessary, Lehigh legend and nephew of steel magnate Charles Schwab, ANDY FARABAUGH.

SECOND HALF – Farabaugh proves a good move. He barrels through the Massillon defense and leads the charge downfield. However, a fumble by a decoy running back ends the threat.

Players are going down, one-by-one in the melee. Stewart is relentless. It’s a game of attrition, and the players are being treated as commodities. Wallace takes advantage of a battered Massillon defense, and Farabaugh soon plunges in from the one. With the extra point, Canton has its first lead, 6-5.

The Massillon grandstand collapses under the fans rage and play is halted. Shiring again is the savior of the day when he rescues a woman who was caught under the flotsam of humans and carries her to safety.

Massillon regroups and forces Canton to punt from deep in its own end zone. MAXWELL blocks the punt, and the ball goes into the crowd lined up rows deep behind the end zone. He again wrestles a Canton fan for the ball to no avail, and the play is declared a safety. Massillon takes the lead again at 7-6.

The Tigers drive the ball down the Bulldogs’ throats towards a decisive score. Stewart bullies Wightman into using one of Stagg’s plays on the goal line. The Massillon players can see that their coach has lost control of the team. But the play works and the Tigers running back dives across the goal to give Massillon an insurmountable 13-6 lead after the Maxwell extra point with time running out.

Finally, and mercifully, the referee blows his whistle signifying an end to the onslaught.

The fans break through the fences and swarm the field. Several players collapse from exhaustion, others from injury. It’s like witnessing the carnage after a brutal wartime battle surge.

Little Homer Davidson is lifted upon the shoulders of a group of his apple-polishers and carried off through the home crowd. Wallace offers a handshake to Wightman, who, while limping badly, reluctantly returns the gesture, while knowing the storm of dissension yet to come.

As Wallace walks off the field, alone in his despair, Cassie spots him from the edge of the field. She runs towards him only to be engulfed by the SWARM OF SPECTATORS that consume the area between them. Cassie loses sight of him for a few short, desperate moments. She pushes harder through the crowd and is smashed into the fence, her dress ripping on the pickets. When she breaks free, she’s lost him. The field is empty of Canton players.

As the CAMERA PULLS BACK and the fans disperse, Cassie is left alone once again. She collapses on the players’ bench, inspects the shreds of her dress and coat, then breaks into a heavy sob as we…. FADE OUT.

Massillon is reveling in celebration. Canton is in mourning. Many players on both sides are united in their feelings of being pawns for the teams’ owners.  They join each other for drinks to commiserate at the bar at Canton’s Courtland Hotel.  When Wallace shows up to extend a hand in peace to Maxwell, a patron announces to anyone within earshot that he thinks the games were fixed. It sets off a bar room brawl, and the surging crowd crashes through the front window. Meanwhile, Wallace grabs the bottle of whiskey from behind the bar and sneaks out the back door.