Both Sharpsville and Conneaut were presented with opportunities
Sharpsville took advantage of those opportunities. Conneaut did not. And the end result was a 19-7 win for the Blue Devils on Friday night at Conneaut Area Senior High School.
“We had chances to score and we didn’t capitalize,” said Conneaut head coach Pat Gould. “We had plays that were open and we’d make mistakes. ... And then when (Sharpsville) was on offense, and when it’s time for us defensively to make a play, we’re not making them. (Sharpsville) did. And that’s the bottom line.”
The loss was the second in a row for Conneaut, which fell to 1-2 on the season and 0-2 in Region 1.
Sharpsville improved to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the region.
“I’m telling you, I think Conneaut is a nice team,” said Sharpsville head coach Paul Piccirilli. “They’re going to beat a lot of teams. To come up here and win on the road, that was a big win for our program going forward.”
There was one play that went Conneaut’s way. On Sharpsville’s second down on offense, quarterback Nick Henwood fumbled the snap and Conneaut’s Chris Richardson jumped on it, giving the Eagles the ball at the Blue Devils’ 36.
Five plays later, Conneaut was in the end zone thanks to a three-yard run by Elijah Anderton. The Eagles led 7-0.
By the second quarter, however, Sharpsville began to turn the tide. And they did it through the air.
“Honestly, when we played Mercer, we just pounded the ball like 95 percent of the time,” said Piccirilli. “And after we lost the game, coach (Len) Grandy, our offensive coordinator, said that we’ve got to spread it out and start putting the ball up. So that’s all we did all week. Maybe we caught (Conneaut) off guard.”
The Blue Devils embarked on a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive that featured two big completions by quarterback Nick Henwood, a 15-yarder and a 20-yarder, both to tight end Greg Popatak.
With Conneaut’s defense on its heels, the Blue Devils sprung Ben Bucher 25 yards into the end zone. Sharpsville’s holder muffed the snap on the PAT attempt, leaving Conneaut in the lead at 7-6.
That’s where the score would stay for much of the second quarter.
Conneaut suffered its first major missed opportunity in that frame, however. A botched punt attempt by Sharpsville set the Eagles up on the Blue Devils’ 15 yard line. However, in four plays Conneaut’s offense went back five yards, giving the ball back to Sharpsville with 1:24 left in the half.
Despite starting on their own 20 with very little time remaining, the Blue Devils weren’t going to go into the locker room quietly. The Mercer County squad commenced a remarkably efficient series of plays. And once again it was the passing attack leading the way.
Henwood went 4-for-6 for 78 yards during the nine-play drive. And facing a third down and 17, Henwood lofted a bomb into the end zone that was caught by running back Tyrin Peavy.
“It was just a Hail Mary,” said Piccirilli. “We had two guys down there. We said just heave it up there as far as you can. We tried to get it to the big guy (6-foot-4 receiver Derrek Smith) down there, but Peavy came up with it.”
Sharpsville went into the locker room leading 12-7.
The Blue Devils dominated the third quarter action, running 18 plays to Conneaut’s three plays. But it wasn’t until the start of the fourth that Sharpsville would revisit the end zone.
Once again, Conneaut had the Devils backed up, facing a third down and 22. Yet, once again Henwood sprung his squad. This time he fired a pass deep. And this time the Devils’ big target, Smith, reeled it in for a 33-yard completion, giving Sharpsville a first-and-goal on the 2.
“We threw a long ball to Smith and he’s just so big he can jump over everybody,” said Piccirilli. “And finally it worked. We’ve been trying it all year and finally it paid off.”
On the next play, Peavy dove in for the touchdown, making it 19-7.
Conneaut attempted to answer. On the Eagles next drive, they marched all the way down to Sharpsville’s 1 yard line. But the Blue Devils’ defense pushed them back. And Conneaut ran out of downs on the 2 with a little under five minutes to go. That was the ball game.
“We’re in situations where it’s long distances and we’re letting them have it. We can’t do that,” said Gould. “Their athletes are making plays, our athletes aren’t. And I don’t care who you’re playing, if you’re not making plays you’re not going to win. And that’s what’s happening right now. The plays are there, and we don’t execute them.
“I think we played a tough game,” he added. “We hit. We did a nice job that way. But that just can’t keep happening. We’re in trouble if it does. I mean, we’re in every game. We just can’t make enough plays to win them.”
Both Sharpsville and Conneaut were presented with opportunities
Breese closes career with second straight title
Sam Breese now knows how it feels to be perfect.
Breese finished with an undefeated season record of 35-0, with win No. 35 being the sweetest one of all.
The Lakeview senior stared into the face of the pressure that comes with defending a title, and made the Giant Center in Hershey feel like home. Undeniable talent and an incredible determination are the hallmarks of Breese’s approach to wrestling, and for the second straight year, he can call himself a champion.
McLane’s Wheeling comes up short in final
On a night when six wrestlers repeated as PIAA Class AAA champions, Chance Marsteller and Thomas Haines stole the show.
Marsteller, of Kennard-Dale, and Haines, of Solanco, became the 11th and 12th four-time gold-medal winners in Pennsylvania history. Marsteller (166-0) also is the first four-time champion to complete his career without a loss since Cary Kolat (1989-92) and the fourth overall.
Serra outlasts Cardinals
For the second time in as many days a basketball team from Cochranton High School played a private school from the WPIAL, put forth a valiant fight, but ultimately had its heart broken.
On Friday, it was the Cochranton boys team, which fell to Vincentian Academy 95-85.
Breese lone local to reach Class AA finals
A busy and entertaining Day 2 of wrestling at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Hershey came and went, as did the dreams of a gold medal for a handful of local wrestlers.
The one local wrestler that doesn’t apply to is Lakeview’s Sam Breese, who had the Giant Center crowd in aw during his two matches Friday. The two bouts equated to two wins, which means a shot a defending his championship.
Lee, Wheeling survive Day 2 in Hershey
Ehrin Lee’s smile following his quarterfinal win Friday at the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships told the whole story.
Lee has had his eyes on the state championships all season long, and just getting there wasn’t enough. The Titusville 160-pounder has wrestled like one of the best grapplers in the state during the tournament thus far, and his 3-2 overtime win over Northampton’s Bobby Fehr proved that if nothing else, he’s one of the four best wrestlers in his weight class.
Cards can’t slow Vincentian
The starters on the Cochranton boys basketball team probably slept like logs on Friday night.
They left every ounce on the hardwood of Meadville High School’s House of Thrills, going up against the high-intensity attack of Vincentian Academy in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
McLane rolls past Neshannock
Sarah Jay has made a habit of presenting her players with in depth scouting reports prior to each and every game.
But the report she handed them on Neshannock, the Lady Lancers’ first round opponent in the PIAA Class AA playoffs, was nothing like they had seen before.
Class AA first round filled with highs, lows for locals
It was a day full of highs and lows for the 11 local Class AA wrestlers on the opening day of the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Hershey.
For some, it was business as usual, and for others, the atmosphere of a crowded Giant Center proved to be a little much. By the time the preliminary and Round 1 consolation rounds were finished, eight wrestlers are still alive, with state wrestling experience proving to be invaluable Thursday morning.
Lee, Wheeling stay in hunt for Class AAA state title
A win is a win, and when it comes to the PIAA Individual Wrestling Championships, as long as your score reads higher in the end, it really doesn’t matter how you get there.
During the preliminary round of the tournament Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center in Hershey, the six local qualifiers certainly had mixed results, but in the end, two wrestlers are still in the championship bracket, exactly where they want to be.
Cards look to slow down Vincentian
“The best way to sum it up is,” said Cochranton head coach Scott McCurdy, “it’s like they’re down five and there are 30 seconds to go. Only, they play like that for the entire 32 minutes.”
McCurdy is talking about the Vincentian Academy boys basketball team, which employs a style that’s ... well ... calling it up-tempo just doesn’t seem to suffice.
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