By Jeff Greenburg
Herald Staff Writer
NEW WILMINGTON — The Sharpsville Blue Devils football team has become very familiar with adversity this season. So there was no panic when their old friend decided to make a visit to Wilmington High School Friday night in a first-round District 10 Class A playoff game against Cambridge Springs.
Clinging to a precarious 16-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Sharpsville exploded for 19 points in the game’s final 5:06, including two scores 15 seconds apart in the final minute, to secure a hard-fought 35-14 win.
The Blue Devils (8-3) will face undefeated Mercyhurst Prep (11-0), a 39-0 winner over Lakeview, in the District 10 semifinals next Friday at a site and time to be determined.
Sharpsville, which was playing without leading rusher Aaron Reddix for undisclosed reasons, benefited from outstanding performances by running backs Tim Siege and Josh Taylor, quarterback Jarryd Summers and two-way standout Ryan Maurice to hand coach Paul Piccirilli the 100th win of his career.
“We fought through a lot of adversity this year, there’s no doubt about it, but these kids do whatever we ask them,” Piccirilli said. “They give 100 percent effort every week and that’s all I can ask.”
Up 16-14 and facing a 4th-and-13 with just over five minutes left in the game at the Spa 22, Summers fired a laser beam to Maurice just short of the goal line and Maurice rambled in for the score, capping a 13-play, 70-yard, 7:25 drive. Summers’ kick gave Sharpsville a two-score edge at 23-14.
On Cambridge Spring’s ensuing possession, Taylor’s 42-yard interception return of freshman quarterback Steven Kargol’s pass put Sharpsville in business at the Spa 12. Six plays later on another fourth down from the 12, Siege rolled into the end zone to give Sharpsville a 29-14 lead with 57 seconds remaining. Fifteen seconds later, Maurice capped the Devils’ remarkable outburst with a 27-yard interception return to seal the contest.
Piccirilli said if he could ever get everybody together for a couple games in a row, the Devils would be a dangerous team.
“But it seems like we’re patching different situations every week ... and it’s keeping us from getting to where I think we should be at this time,” he said. “But that’s life. You’ve got to deal with what’s handed to you.”
Summers put the Devils on the board with a picture-perfect 43-yard field goal on their first possession at the 6:06 mark of the first quarter.
Cambridge Springs responded on its ensuing possession with a 10-play, 53-yard drive that was capped with 45 seconds left in the quarter by a 3-yard blast from 1,400-yard rusher Josh Hobson. A conversion run failed.
Sharpsville answered again with an 11-play, 52-yard march that was highlighted by Summers’ 3-yard toss to Aaron Biro on a 4th-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Summers’ kick made it 10-6 midway through the second quarter. That’s how the half ended.
Sharpsville took the first possession of the second half and rode the legs of Siege and Taylor to to move in front by a seemingly comfortable 16-6 margin. Siege carried five times for 38 yards and Taylor added the final 19, including a 4-yard scamper to paydirt with 8:35 remaining in the quarter.
It took Cambridge Springs all of five plays to close the gap to 16-14 on an electrifying 62-yard scamper from Hobson and a 2-point pass from Kargol to Lucas Acker, setting up Sharpsville’s fantastic finish.
With Reddix on the sidelines, Siege was the workhorse and sparkled in the role, carrying 24 times for 146 yards. Taylor tallied 48 yards on 9 carries and 52 yards on 7 receptions. Summers completed 12 of 18 passes for 105 yards and the two touchdowns while adding 35 yards on the ground on 7 carries.
Hobson finished with 118 yards on 11 carries and 17 yards on two catches while Kargol was 6 of 13 for 35 yards and two picks.
Sharpsville rolled up 330 total yards and 20 first downs while limiting the Spa to 192 yards and 7 first downs.
Regarding his milestone victory that raised his career mark in his 11th season with the Devils to 100-30, Piccirilli credited the great athletes he’s had and the outstanding assistant coaches who’ve been by his side for those wins.
SHARPSVILLE 3 7 6 19 35
C. SPRINGS 6 0 8 0 14
S — Summers 43 FG
C — Hobson 3 run (run failed)
S — Biro 3 pass from Summers (Summers kick)
S — Taylor 4 run (kick failed)
C — Hobson 62 run (Acker pass from Kargol)
S — Maurice 22 pass from Summers (Summers kick)
S — Siege 12 run (kick failed)
S — Maurice 27 interception return (kick failed)
SHARPSVILLE C. SPRINGS
20 First downs 7
225 Rushing yards 157
105 Passing yards 35
18-12-0 Att-comp-int 14-6-2
330 Total yards 192
1-0 Fumbles-lost 1-0
5-35 Penalties-yards lost 1-5
Rushing: SHARPSVILLE — Siege 24-146, Taylor 9-48, Summers 7-35, Joseph 1-5, team 1-(-9); CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — Hobson 11-118, Acker 6-33, Dunton 2-4, Tapper 2-5, Kargol 1-(-3).
Passing: SHARPSVILLE — Summers 18-12-0-105; CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — Kargol 13-6-2-35; Hobson 1-0-0-0.
Receiving: SHARPSVILLE — Taylor 7-52, Maurice 2-32, Gill 2-18, Biro 1-3; CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — Hobson 2-17, Acker 2-10, Spaid 1-4, Tapper 1-4.
By Jeff Greenburg