The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Sports

December 1, 2012

Sharpsville suffers heartbreaking loss to Gators in PIAA playoffs

---- — BRADFORD, Pa. — They say that “Turnabout is fair play.” But the way the PIAA Class A playoff game ended for the  Sharpsville Blue Devils Friday night was almost unfair.

The Blue Devils played a phenomenal game against Matt Bodamer, the most prolific passer in the history of Pennsylvania football, and Port Allegany which Sharpsville beat in the PIAA Class A Quarterfinals last year.

But Bodamer and the Gators took advantage of an untimely turnover by Sharpsville to pull out almost a miracle 28-21 victory and gain revenge for last year’s tough defeat.

“They lost a tough one last year and we lost a tough one this year,” said a disappointed Sharpsville coach Paul Piccirilli after an emotional, season-ending address to his team.

The Devils clung to a 21-20 lead late in game. After the Gators missed a 26-yard field goal, Sharpsville took over with 2:11 left and all they had to do was pick up a first down to run out the clock.

After three plays, the Devils were at the 29 and needed to either punt or gain the first down, which could end the game. Piccirilli and his staff rolled the dice and went for the first down. Joey Pagliaroli easily picked up the yardage, but kept fighting for more and had the ball knocked loose. PA recovered at the Sharpsville 40 with 1:11 left, but no timouts.

Still Bodamer, the all-time career passing leader with well over 10,000 yards, had all the time he needed. After two completions and a run, Bodamer connected with Tyce Miller for an 11-yard score with only 17 ticks left on the clock. A two-point pass to Trey Miller resulted in the final score, although Sharpsville did manage to drive into Gators ground before the clock ran out.

“To be honest with you I don’t think we deserved to win,” said a humble Gators coach Mike Bodamer, father of the quarterback, after the game. “Sharpsville played a great game.”

“One play doesn’t make a game or a season,” said Piccirilli regarding the fumble. “I just wish we would have had a minute or so left, I think we could have scored again. But that’s the way the ball bounces.”

It doesn’t bounce much when passed by Bodamer. The senior ace completed 21 if 36 passes for 260 yards. He also led the rushing attack for the Gators with 82 yards on 18 totes.

“He’s the best quarterback we’ll ever see,” said Piccirilli.   .

While Bodamar is known best for his arm, it was his legs that set up the first score of the game. On the team’s first possession after forcing a Blue Devils punt, Bodamer ripped off a 59-yard run to the Sharpsville 1. On the next play, Tyler Shaffer went around left end for a score. The PAT kick went wide left, but PA was on top 6-0 with 9:35 remaining in the opening period.

But for most of the first half, both offenses moved the ball only to have the defenses rise up and stop possible scoring drives.

Late in the first quarter, the Devils moved deep into Gators’ territory, but a fourth down run by Devils star Tyler Luchey came up a few inches short of the first down at the Port Allegany 4.

Then led by Bodamer’s passing, the Gators roared back down the field into the Blue Devils red zone. But again, Sharpsville’s defense came through and on a fourth-down pass into the end zone, Devils’ Joey Pagliaroli came up with a great play by knocking a would-be TD pass to the ground.

Sharpsville took over at their own 19 with 6:43 left and moved to the Port Alleghey 26 in 13 plays. Then, on the next play quarterback Bryan Stafford threw the ball into the end zone where Luchey went high in the air and came down with the ball. Pagliaroli’s PAT kick gave Sharpsville the lead at 7-6 with 1:11.

But that’s a long time when you have a Matt Bodamer working out the shotgun formation. In fact, PA pushed back to Sharpsville territory, but on the final play of the half, Devils’ cornerback Tyler Wansack came up with an interception in the end zone to preserve the lead.

Bodamer connected on 12 of 20 passes for 155 yards in the half, but the team was only in single digits on the scoreboard for the first time since 2010.

.The lead didn’t last long once the second half got under way. After taking the opening kickoff, the Gators drove for a score when Shaffer scored on a 9-yard run. A pass from Bodamer to Tyce Miller put PA on top 14-7.

Later in the third period, the Gators extended the margin to 20-7 after Bodamer connected with Nick Conway on a 15-yard scoring pass, but the PAT kick again was no good.

Then Sharpsville came back as they have done throughout the playoffs. The Devils scored early in the final frame on a 6-yard run by Pagliaroli and he added the point after as well. Then with 5:46 left, the Devils put the go-ahead points on the board after an 11-yard scoring pass from Bryan Stafford to Derrick Odem and the Pagliaroli PAT,

That set up the tense waning moments of the contest, while the Devils just came up short and finished the season at 11-2. Meanwhile PA (13-0) moves on to take on three-time state champion Clarion in the PIAA semis. “It’s a case of David versus Goliath and we are definitely David,” said PA coach Bodamer.

For Sharpsville, the team and fans are left only to imagine what could have been with a rematch with Clarion.

“I’m still really proud of these kids,” said Piccirilli. “They gave everything they had, but that’s the way Sharpsville kids are. They never say die. But we’re going to miss these seniors, it’s a special group.”

Senior starters who played their final game included Stafford, Odem, Pagliaroli, Ross Llewellyn, Luchey, Zach Stafford, Cody Hughes, Kaleb Robertson, Chris Przicina, Matt Ellison.

Notes: Pagliaroli led the Devils running game with 71 yards on 15 carries. The Devils amassed 180 yards on the ground, working the game plan to perfection to keep the ball away from Bodamer.

———

PIAA CLASS A PLAYOFFS

SHARPSVILLE    0    7    0    14    21

P.ALLEGANY    6    0    14    8    28


Scoring plays

PA — Shaffer, 1 run (kick failed)

S — Luchey, 26 pass from Stafford (Pagliaroli kick)

PA — Shaffer, 9 run (Tyce Miller pass from Bodamer)

PA — Conway 15 pass from Bodamer (kick failed)

S — Pagliaroli, 6 run (Pagliaroli kick)

S — Odem, 11 pass from Stafford (Pagliaroli kick)

PA — Tyce Miller, 11 pass from Bodamer (Trey Miller pass from Bodamer)

Team stats

SHARPSVILLE               P. ALLEGANY

18    First downs    22

180    Rushing yards    152

91    Passing yards    260

12-8-0    Att-comp-int    36-21-1

271    Total yards    412

1-1    Fumbles-lost    2-0

2-20    Penalties-yards lost    12-112

Individual stats

Rushing: SHARPSVILLE — Pagliaroli 15-71, Odem 19-57, Llewellyn 9-26, Luchey 4-15, Stafford 3-11; PORT ALLEGANY — Bodamer 18-82, Shaffer 11-48, Neal 3-22.

Passing: SHARPSVILLE — Stafford 12-8-0-91; PORT ALLEGANY — Bodamer 36-21-1-260.

Receiving: SHARPSVILLE — Luchey 5-75, Odem 1-11, Llewellyn 1-3, Pagliaroli 1-2; PORT ALLEGANY — Conway 9-96, Tyce Miller 8-89, Shaffer 2-54, Trey Miller 2-21.

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