ELYRIA 15, ROSS 7
Week six of the 1971 football season saw one of the biggest games Harmon/Don Paul stadium has ever seen. The unbeaten and state ranked Little Giants hosted the undefeated and state ranked Pioneers of Elyria in a huge Buckeye Conference showdown. Both teams were 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Buckeye. For Elyria coach Bill Bartons charges this was just another big game in a line of big games for the Pioneers who were a state power in the era. For the Little Giants of head coach Chuck Shuff this was the first huge game since his rebuilding effort began showing results.
The game was one of those that live up to all the hype. An overflow crowd that is still the largest to date jammed Harmon Stadium for the contest. The attendance was estimated at anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000. Remember back in those days the concession stands in the northwest corner were not there and both endzones were empty. Bleachers ringed both endzones and were full. The area in front of the old home side was full of standing room only attendees.
The names associated with this great contest are a who's who of football. Bill Barton, Chuck Shuff, Les Miles, Bob Brudzinski, Tommy Liggins, Rob Lytle, Chuck Lindsey, Ike Maxwell and more were involved with this game.
Maxwell was the star of the show as the Pioneer back had 219 yards on 30 carries. The Little Giants struck first on a Ben Lopez to Dale Shoemaker 18 yard touchdown pass. Tommy Liggins kicked the PAT and the Little Giants were on the board first with a 7-0 lead. The score was the result of a drive that started at the Pioneer 46 yard line.
Maxwell first score for the Lorain County visitors was on a three yard run in the second quarter. The tough Elyria back also carried the ball into the endzone for the two point PAT and the Pioneers led 8-7.
Four minutes later Maxwell dazzled the Harmon Stadium crowd with a 76 yard touchdown run. The PAT kick was good and Elyria went into the locker rooms at the half up 15-7.
The second half saw both teams threaten but both defenses hold. For the game the powerful Elyria defense held Fremonts talented backs mostly in check. Tom Liggins had 48 yards rushing and Rob Lytle was held to 80.
Elyria went on to win the Buckeye Conference title with a 7-0 league mark and a perfect 10-0 overall record. Many considered the '71 Pioneer football team the best ever at Elyria which is saying a lot considering the programs great history.
The tough loss was the only one of the season for the Little Giants. Ross finished second in the Buckeye at 6-1 and the Purple and White finished 9-1 overall.