MERCER COUNTY AREA —
Grove City head football coach Jeff Bell may want to check into pushing back all the Eagles’ start times at least a half hour.
After having their season opener against Carrick delayed by the Pittsburgh school’s late arrival, Grove City’s Region 3AA opener against Wilmington was delayed 88 minutes due to a thunderstorm that rolled through Mercer County Friday evening.
Grove City (1-0, 2-0) used a combined five touchdowns in the early going of the games, including a pair of first quarter touchdowns in Friday’s 19-7 win over the Greyhounds (0-1, 1-1).
“With the delay, our kids were ready to break the door down to get out here and play,” Bell said. “I couldn’t keep them in the lockerroom. They’re like race horses. You get ‘em to the starting gate and they’re all lathered up ready to go. Our kids want to play and they want to get out here. Hopefully, we can keep that going. You like to see that, but I was a little concerned that we came out a little too hot.”
The Greyhounds special teams, especially, weren’t ready to play Friday night, allowing a pair of long returns to Kyle Trinch (kick-off) and Foster Reznor (punt) to set up the Eagles’ first two touchdowns.
After Trinch returned the opening kick-off to near midfield, Grove City marched 53 plays in eight plays and scored on Harold Price’s two-yard burst.
Then after Reznor’s long punt return to the Wilmington 12, Reznor scored from two yards out for a 13-0 lead.
“You never know how a team is going to come out, but fortunately, we were at home and not away,” Bell said. “It hurts you worse away with a small lockerroom. We were in our own lockerroom and there was more space. It was definitely an advantage. One of the things I said before we came out is ‘We have to jump on them early, because they’re not going to be ready.’ They did a heck of a job.”
But Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli wasn’t willing to concede the delay was a disadvantage to his team.
“I’m uptight,” the veteran Wilmington coach said. “It gets me more than it gets them – all that sitting around. They wanted to play. They would’ve waited until midnight.”
The ‘Hounds very nearly waited until midnight before forcing the Eagles to punt – their first punt wasn’t until 8:05 remained in the fourth quarter. Grove City converted 5-of-8 fourth downs and dominated the time of possession, which was nearly 2-to-1.
“(Grove City) is a good team,” Verrelli said. “The big thing is they have a good running attack. We didn’t stop them like we needed to to get the ball back. We made some mistakes, but that’s going to happen when you have new faces. That’s going to happen until they get some experience under them, but they played hard. That’s all I can ask.”
After Tyler Donati pulled Wilmington to within 13-7 with a 41-yard score through the middle of the Grove City defense, Reznor gave the Eagles some breathing room two minutes before halftime by hauling in a six-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jared Graham.
“Mentally, we got a little tougher this week,” Bell said. “Last week, we had a problem with kids taking themselves out of the game and we addressed it. Tonight, I had kids begging me to put them back in the game when I really didn’t want to. I think that was the difference tonight. We played a good football team tonight and we had some things happen tonight, but we hung in there together. The kids went in, did the job and stepped up.”
Despite starting the season at 2-0 and only allowing 7 points, Bell isn’t ready to crown the Eagles just yet.
“There’s some things that we have to improve on,” the long-time Eagles coach said. “We have to get better down in the redzone if we want to beat quality teams. We had chances to put more points on the board and we didn’t.
“I liked our toughness tonight and how we played physical. We’ve got some kids that’re just nasty. They’re tough and I liked the way our kids hung in there. The effort we had tonight (was amazing). We were hitting. The way the kids carried out the offensive and defensive game plans. They played a great game.”
Friday night, the Eagles had a very balanced running back with four players between 11 and 13 carries and three between 59 and 67 yards rushing.
Chad Williams led Grove City with 66 yards rushing on 12 totes and another 40 yards on two catches, while Graham topped all Eagle ball carriers with 67 yards. Price tacked on 59 yards on 11 carries.
“They were tough yards,” Bell said. “There weren’t a lot of 20-yard runs or even 10-yard runs tonight. They were tough yards every carry. They did a nice job. You have to like that. Our offensive line did the job. That’s a big front they have. They’re tough to run the ball against and I thought we did a nice job. I was happy.
“Jared Graham, our quarterback, was making his second varsity start and you couldn’t ask for more out of him. We were hurting in the backfield a little bit and he ended up being a key guy running the ball in the second half. I just hope it didn’t come back to bite me there at the end (when Graham had to leave the game for a play due a knee injury), but he’s up on his feet and moving, so that’s a good sign.”
Notes: Mackenzie Patterson recovered for a fumble and Reznor had an interception. … Donati led Wilmington with 111 yards rushing. … Graham completed 4-of-7 passes for 56 yards. … Grove City held advantages in first down (14-8) and total offense (291-188). … Price (head) and Graham (knee) left the game briefly before being cleared to return by the team doctor. … The Eagles have now won 24 straight regular season games, 26 consecutive region games and 19 in a row at Forker Field.
ä Slippery Rock 42, Meadville 7 — At Meadville Friday, Slippery Rock’s Jeff Croll made the most of his nine carries to lead the Rockets past Meadville in both teams’ Region 5 opener at Bender Field on Friday.
Croll scored on his second and third carries of the game and finished with three TDs and 148 yards rushing on nine carries.
“I’m just so proud of him,” third-year Slippery Rock coach Brendan Hathaway said. “I’ve never had a harder worker.”
The loss dropped Meadville (1-1, 0-1 Region 5) to .500. The Rockets (2-0, 1-0) climbed to the top of the Region 5 standings.
When Croll — who rushed for 23 yards on three carries, including a 9-yard score, on the drive — wasn’t hurting them up the middle, Ryan Currie was hitting perfectly timed and executed passes. The biggest play was a 39-yard pass completion to Dustin Mellott. That was followed one play later by Croll’s third TD and a 21-0 Rockets lead with 8:56 left in the first half. Currie complete 3-of-5 attempts for 71 yards and a touchdown.
“That’s what we try to do,” Hathaway said. “We have receivers who can catch and a quarterback who can throw so we try to take advantage of that when we can.”
The Bulldogs were without Division I Temple recruit Artrel Foster, who is recovering from a knee injury. He took a helmet to the knee in last week’s win and is day-to-day, Feleppa said.
“He’s such a special player,” Hathaway said about Foster.
Last year, the Bulldogs lost to Slippery Rock, 25-18, in overtime in the regular season only to beat the Rockets 43-7 in the District 10 Class AAA quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs’ two-game homestand ends next Saturday when they hit the road to face Erie East (0-1). East plays Central Tech (1-0) today. — By Dominick DiRienzo, CNHI
ä Lakeview 28, Conneaut 14 — At Conneaut Lake Friday, Lakeview coach Dan York didn’t hesitate when asked what was the difference in the first half of his team’s game against Conneaut on Friday night.
“Our quarterback played great,” he said.
Energized by 32- and 68-yard touchdown runs by quarterback Zach Bigley three minutes apart in the first half, the Sailors jumped out to a 28-0 lead and spoiled Conneaut’s first game on its home turf with a 28-14 victory in Region 1 action.
Lakeview is 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the region, while Conneaut dropped to 1-1 and 0-1.
As York pointed out immediately, Bigley was the X-factor in the game.
After completing a 17-yard touchdown pass to split end Zach Van Dusen for Lakeview’s first touchdown, Bigley stamped his jersey No. 4 on the game in a three-minute flourish.
With the Linesville defenders biting on his fake handoff to fullback Nate Kokoski, Bigley scooted around left end and scored on a 32-yard touchdown romp to give the Sailors a 16-0 lead with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Nearly three minutes later, Bigley’s foot speed struck again.
Bursting around right end, the junior quarterback went untouched for a 68-yard touchdown haul to increase Lakeview’s lead to 22-0 over the stunned Eagles.
“We feel we can run the option against anybody and Zach did a great job running it in the first half,” said York.
After Bigley’s interception and 15-yard return to advance the ball to Conneaut’s 15, Lakeview scored its fourth touchdown in the first half on Kokoski’s one-yard plunge with 55 seconds showing on the clock.
Lakeview workhorse running back Blake Reddick — coming off a 365-yard rushing performance against Seneca last week — cracked 100 again with 127 yards on 32 carries. Bigley finished with 116 on seven hauls. — By Jim Hunter, CNHI
ä Sharpsville 28, Mercer 14 — At Sharpsville, the two rivals clashed in a key District 10 Region 1-A opener that was much, much closer than the final score indicated.
The defending District 10-champion Devils of coach Paul Piccirilli never led in the game until late in the 4th quarter. With only 20 seconds remaining in the contest, Ross Llewellyn, who picked up much of the yardage on the game-winning drive, crashed into the end zone from 1-yard out. Joey Pagliaroli’s extra point made the lead 21-14.
Sharpsville added another score with 7 seconds left when Tyler Luchey returned an interception for a TD. Pagliaroli’s kick was good to cap off the victory.
Mercer, which lost 21 seniors to graduation from last year, gave the Devils everything they wanted. Coach Pat McClearn’s Mustangs took the opening kickoff and drove downfield on the arm of quarterback Logan Clarke who hit some key passes, including a 30-yarder to Vik Rymniak. But the state-ranked Blue Devils stopped the march deep in Sharps-ville territory.
However, a Sharpsville fumble gave the ball right back to Mercer at the 17-yard line. A short time later on a 4th down play, the Mustangs were in the end zone as Clarke hooked up with Evan Nan on a 16-yard TD toss. PAT kick was good by Chase Hoffman.
But the lead was short-lived. Sharpsville drove right back after the ensuing kickoff to tie the score. Bryan Stafford went 36 yards with a quarterback keeper to tally the Devils’ touchdown and Pagliaroli booted the point after.
Mercer was back in business again in Sharpsville territory after a muffed punt by the Devils. And a few plays later, Zane O’Brien sprinted 26 yards for a tally. Hoffman’s kick lifted the visitors to a 14-7 lead early in the
That lead held until intermission as both teams had turnovers.
Sharpsville came out fast in the second half and marched to the tying score. Pagliaroli went 7 yards up the middle for the TD and also nailed the point after.
That set up the late-game heroics for the Devils who moved to 2-0 on the season. Mercer fell to 1-1.
MERCER 7 7 0 0 14
SHARPSVILLE 7 0 7 14 28
M — Nan, 16 pass from Clarke (Hoffman kick)
S — Stafford, 36 run (Pagliaroli kick)
M — O’Brien, 26 run (Hoffman kick)
S — Pagliaroli, 7 run (Pagliaroli kick)
S — Llewellyn, 1 run (Pagliaroli kick)
S — Luchey, 50 interception return (Pagliaroli kick)
8 First downs 17
114 Rushing yards 248
108 Passing yards 82
13-6-1 Att-comp-int 10-7-0
222 Total yards 330
2-2 Fumbles-lost 3-3
6-31 Penalties-yards lost 8-56
Rushing: MERCER — Clarke 13-1; O’Brien 15-59, Leonard 3-58; SHARPSVILLE — Odem 16-62, Flynn 3-4, Stafford 10-77, Pagliaroli 7-33, Llellyn 9-71.
Passing: MERCER — Clarke 6-13-1-108; SHARPSVILLE — Stafford 7-10-82.
Receiving: MERCER — Slagle 2-29, Rymniak 1-40, Nan 2-37, Wimer 1-2; SHARPSVILLE — Pagliaroli 3-27, Luchey 2-18, Llewellyn 1-11.
LAKEVIEW 16 12 0 0 28
CONNEAUT 0 0 7 7 14
L — VanDusen, 17 pass from Bigley (Reddick run)
L — Bigley, 32 run (VanDusen catch)
L — Bigley, 68 run (pass failed)
L — Kokoski, 1 run (run failed)
C — Bartlett, 21 pass from Onderko (Houck kick)
C — Bartlett, 14 pass from Onderko (Houck kick)
13 First downs 15
249 Rushing yards 108
27 Passing yards 191
4-2-0 Att-comp-int 31-16-2
276 Total yards 299
2-2 Fumbles-lost 0-0
7-35 Penalties-yards lost 4-40
Rushing: LAKEVIEW — Reddick 32-127, Bigley 7-116, Kokoski 6-6; CONNEAUT — Onderko 14-63, Anderton 13-58, Stofferhan 1-(-13).
Passing: LAKEVIEW — Bigley 4-2-0-27; CONNEAUT — Onderko 31-16-2-191.
Receiving: LAKEVIEW — VanDusen 1-17, Parimuha 1-10; CONNEAUT — Bartlett 7-87, Sherman 6-67, Merritt 2-43, Anderton 1-(-6).
WILMINGTON 7 0 0 0 7
GROVE CITY 13 6 0 0 19
GC — Price, 2 run (Fulkerson kick)
GC — Reznor, 3 run (kick failed)
W — Donati, 41 run (Pontius kick)
GC — Reznor, 6 pass from Graham (run failed)
WILMINGTON GROVE CITY
8 First downs 14
165 Rushing yards 235
23 Passing yards 56
11-2-1 Att-comp-int 7-4-0
188 Total yards 291
2-1 Fumbles-lost 2-0
4-40 Penalties-yards lost 4-40
Rushing: WILMINGTON — Donati 13-111, Bloise 4-17, Llewellyn 4-10, Patton 2-11, Pugh 1-10, Sotter 1-6; GROVE CITY — Graham 12-67, Williams 12-66, Price 11-59, Reznor 13-28, Lucido 2-13, Fulkerson 1-2.
Passing: WILMINGTON — Llewellyn 11-2-1 23; GROVE CITY — Graham 7-4-0 56.
Receiving: WILMINGTON — Bloise 1-13, Patton 1-10; GROVE CITY — Williams 2-40, Trinch 1-10, Reznor 1-6
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
Grove City head football coach Jeff Bell may want to check into pushing back all the Eagles’ start times at least a half hour.
STAIRWAY TO SEVEN: Mike Adams is an example about making good decisions
ANOTHER OFFSEASON AND another Pittsburgh Steeler in the news for all the wrong reasons.
This time, it was second-year offensive tackle Mike Adams, who was stabbed in the stomach and forearm last weekend during a reported carjacking.
According to police reports, a witness flagged down police around 3 a.m. near Carson Street in Pittsburgh and Adams was found bleeding in a nearby restaurant.
EXTRA INNINGS: Nobody hit home runs like Willie Stargell
THE MOST IMPORTANT fact about Garrett Jones’ monster two-run home run Sunday is that it tied the Reds-Pirates game at 4 in the eighth inning. But the most historic fact about the achievement is that the shot made him the first Pirate in the 13-year history of PNC Park to hit a ball on the fly into the Allegheny River.
Before Sunday, the only other player to reach the water on the fly was Houston’s Darryl Ward, when he connected off Kip Wells in July 2002.
THE CHECKERED FLAG: Holtgraver doubles up at Mercer
LAST FRIDAY I planned on taking in the World of Outlaw Sprint Car show at Attica (OH) Raceway Park, but Mother Nature had other ideas washing out the event for the second straight year. Storms were all throughout the Buckeye State that washed out just about every venue including the first ever Patriot 360 Sprint Car event at Raceway 7.
The weather though was clear at Lernerville Speedway and I finally made my first visit of the season to the Sarver oval.
NCAA Football: Rock 6-1 after 17-3 win over Cal U
Slippery Rock University rode a length-of-the-field scoring drive by its offense and a goal-line stand by its No. 1-ranked defense late in the first half of action Saturday to a 17-3 win over 14th-ranked visiting California (Pa.).
NFL: Steelers top Jags as Mendenhall makes return
Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to say the Pittsburgh Steelers are back. Not after watching his team sleepwalk through the second half against Jacksonville on Sunday.
IndyCar Racing: Crash takes Wheldon’s life
Every race car driver heads onto the track understanding this race could be the last and hoping it won’t be. On Sunday, IndyCar drivers got a harsh reminder when the worst happened to one of their own.
NHL: Sabres beat Penguins 3-2
The Buffalo Sabres have had trouble with the Pittsburgh Penguins whether Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin play or not.
NHL Quick glance: Montreal at Pittsburgh
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Leading Off: Oct. 19, 2011
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