By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
ERIE — It was appropos — on Veterans’ Day, playing at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium — that the Sharon High football team parlayed the old-school Statue of Liberty play.
Well, maybe that’s a stretch.
But the Tigers tallied 2 touchdowns — one on a double-reverse, halfback-option, flea-flicker pass play — and their defense mauled Harbor Creek en route to a 14-0 District 10 Class AA quarterfinal-round playoff win Saturday aftenoon.
Sharon (8-2) secured only 191 total yards, 30 of which occurred during the second half. But the Tigers harassed Harbor Creek quarterback Josh McAnulty into a 7-for-24 passing performance while pilfering 3 passes — including Billy Altman’s pair — and sacked him a handful of times for 39 yards in losses, paced by Jeff Parry’s pair.
“I think one word kind of described them (Satur)day — they were relentless,” third-year Tigers’ taskmaster Bob Fromm said of his defense, which yielded only 77 total yards, 4 rushing.
Sharon commenced the contest coercing the Huskies to go 3-and-out. Then quarterback Desmonde Jennings orchestrated an ensuing 7-play, 64-yard drive, running for 23 yards and tossing a 12--yard pass to Altman. Despite a pair of penalties that set Sharon back into a 2nd-and-25-situation from Harbor Creek’s 39-yard line, the Tigers’ trickery turned into a TD.
Jennings handed to Maurice Pearson, who handed to Justin White, and the latter rolled right and lofted a pass to an anxiously wide open K.J. Smith at the 12-yard line. Smith’s score and the first of Terry Flaugher’s two conversion kicks staked Sharon to a 7-0 lead.
“It’s something we had in (the playbook) for two years. We’ve gone to the well with it a couple times, and it just always seems to work,” Fromm confessed. “The kids run it well. A kid made a good throw and a kid good made a good catch, and we blocked well up front.”
Following a scoreless second stanza the Tigers took a 2-score lead, as Altman initial interception and subsequent 27-yard return set up Sharon at the Huskies’ 5. Two plays later Kellen Harris hurdled into the end zone with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Sharon secured only 2 second-half first downs — one via a drive-sustaining, roughing–the-kicker penalty — and Devin Motley was forced to punt 4 times. But A.J. Johnson added an interception, and Parry’s second sack and another by Jacques Moss had Harbor Creek (8-3) on its heels all afternoon.
Fromm assessed: “I thought, defensively, we played a heckava game. Offensively, the flags got in our way a little bit (12 for 96 yards) — I think we overcame them (Satur)day — but when we needed to we made a couple plays. ... Defensively we made enough plays; offensively we got the ball in the end zone twice. I’m proud of the kids.
“Harbor Creek’s a good team, they had a good season,” Fromm praised. “Every team you play from week to week (in the postseason) is going to be a good football team —- they’re not boing to beat themselves ... ”
The Tigers’ turnabout this season has seen Sharon win more games (8) than Fromm’s first 2 years combined (6). The playoff win was the first in four seasons for Sharon’s proud program.
“This has been a goal of our’s for a couple years now, and they came up and responded well,” Fromm said. “You see the program making progess, and I guess that’s all you can ask for day-to-day.”
And it set up a rematch with Wilmington, which routed the Tigers 42-7 in Week 8 as the Tigers totalled only 3 net yards.
Fromm was asked is his club would be ready for “The Big Dogs.” — Wilmington’s undefeated and state-ranked Greyhounds.
“We are. We just want another shot, and that’s all you can ask for as a competitor,” Fromm forecasted. “We feel like we didn’t play our best game — they’re a darned good football club down there. So we’re going to go back, work on some things this week and, hopefully, get our shot. We earned it today.”
SHARON 7 0 7 0 14
HAR. CREEK 0 0 0 0 0
S — Smith, 39 pass from White (Flaugher kick)
S — Harris, 2 run (Flaugher kick)
SHARON HAR. CREEK
11 First downs 7
132 Rushing yards 4
59 Passing yards 73
14-5-1 Att-comp-int 24-7-3
191 Total yards 77
2-0 Fumbles-lost 6-0
12-96 Penalties-yards lost 4-43
Rushing: SHARON — Rearick 8-34, White 4-33, Harris 8-20, Pearson 13-20, Jennings 6-17, Johnson 4-8, Altman 1-4, Owen 1-(-3); HARBOR CREEK — Divell 14-44, Cudicio 1-0, Grolemund 1-(-3), McAnulty 8-(-37).
Passing: SHARON — Jennings 3-2-0, 28; White 1-1-0, 39; Rearick 10-2-1, (-8); HARBOR CREEK — McAnulty 24-7-3, 73.
Receiving: SHARON — Altman 2-28, Smith 1-39, White 1-(2-), Norcross 1-(-6); HARBOR CREEK — Grolemund 3-29, Burnett 2-15, Gustafson 1-13, Cudicio 1-16.
By Ed Farrell