The Tigers built a 13-0 first half lead to hold off the Gremlins, 20-13.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HERMITAGE -- Defense was the name of the game Friday and the Sharon High football team got the best of the affair.
The Tigers used two early touchdowns to fight off Karns City 20-13 in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs at Hickory High field.
The Tigers' defense dominated the Gremlins in the first half, building a 13-0 lead and holding Karns City to minus-8 yards rushing and minus-7 total for the half.
The Gremlins had one first down and never crossed the midfield stripe the entire half.
"That's really saying something for our defense," Jim Wildman said. "They came in to the game averaging over 40 points a game and giving up just six points a game.
"We knew it was going to be a struggle tonight, they're a good football team, but our kids rose to the occasion tonight," Wildman said.
Offensive standouts: Sophomore running back Jim Bochert scored a pair of touchdowns and senior quarterback Mike Schneider added the third for the Tigers, who improved to 9-3 on the season and probably will have to travel to Altoona next week for the quarterfinals.
Next weekend, Sharon will meet the winner of tonight's contest between Bellwood-Antis (11-0) and Bishop McCort (9-2).
"It doesn't matter where we play or who we play, we're just happy to be still playing," Wildman said. "I just hope it isn't too cold up there, I'm starting to run out of clothes to wear."
The Tigers didn't have an easy time against the Gremlins' offense as they managed just 103 yards rushing on 47 carries and another 34 passing for 137 total yards.
Karns City, which had its 11-game winning streak snapped, finished with just 26 yards rushing and 134 passing, most of those coming in the final period.
Early lead: Sharon stopped the Gremlins in the opening drive and took over at the Karns City 47 yard line.
It took the Tigers awhile -- 15 plays and more than eight minutes to be exact -- but they took a 7-0 lead when Bochert dove off left tackle from the 1.
In the second period, the Tigers got a big break when Erik Fuhrer fumbled at his own 17 and Lamar Smith recovered for the Tigers.
Six plays later, Schneider dove over on a quarterback sneak to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead.
On Karns City's first possession of the second half, the Gremlins drove 70 yards and crossed the midfield stripe for the first time with 5:16 remaining in the period. Billy Graham scored the first touchdown on a 13-yard run.
Sharon scored what appeared to be the clinching touchdown early in the fourth period following a poor Gremlins punt that went 10 yards and the Tigers started at the Karns City 34.
Schneider, who threw only three passes in the game, hit Dan Tomko with a sideline pass and the junior scooted up the sidelines for what appeared to be a touchdown, but a penalty at the 3 nullified the score.
With a first down at the 13, the Tigers scored on four plays as Bochert dove off tackle from two yards out.
Karns City came right back to score its second touchdown and Fuhrer completed four passes in the 65 yard drive and then lateraled to Graham at the 13, who took it all the way.
The Gremlins had one last chance in the final 24 seconds and Fuhrer got them down to the Tigers' 25 yard line, but Tomko raced in to sack Fuhrer on the final play ending the game.