The Tigers scored twice in the final four minutes of the first half and went on to a 42-3 win.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
VINDICATOR SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
GROVE CITY, Pa. -- For the first 20 minutes of Saturday night's high school football game at Forker Field, the contest was anybody's for the taking at Sharon 7, Grove City 3.
However, that is when the Tigers went on the prowl as they scored 35 unanswered points en route to a 42-3 win over the Eagles.
"I don't think this is ever an easy place to play, especially at the beginning of the game," said Sharon coach Jim Wildman about the confines of Forker Field. "I don't know why it never has been for us, but give Grove City credit because they played inspired football offensively there in the first quarter and it took us some time to settled down. But once we did, we played much better."
After falling 33-0 to Wilmington last week, Grove City coach Jeff Bell was hoping to see improvement from his young troops, and he felt he saw just that in the loss to the Tigers.
"I think we improved from our first game to last week, and I think we improved some more tonight," said Bell. "I think Sharon showed they have a lot of talent, but our kids played hard. We knew we were in for a heckuva ball game, but our kids made some big plays. As I said before, I think we saw some improvement early in the game, but I was disappointed in what we did in the second half."
First points: The Tigers drew first blood on a 23-yard pass from Mike Schneider to John Reay, but Grove City came back to put together a 17-play drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal by Josh Pratt to cut the Sharon lead to 7-3.
"After that first drive, I thought the kids were starting to believe in themselves by getting things going," said Bell. "We needed to keep the ball away from them, and in the second half, we weren't able to do that."
But that is when the ceiling fell in on the Eagles as a lost fumble by Grove City was converted into a 22-yard TD scamper by Marcus Smith on the first play following the turnover before Justin Turnbaugh pounced on another GC bobble in the end zone moments later for 14 quick points and a 21-3 Sharon at the break.
"I told the kids to keep their heads up because we had some bad things happen to us right before halftime," said Bell. "If we go in at 7-3, I think we could have come out in the second half and play a game. But when we gave up those two quick scores, it really hurt us."
While the Sharon offense sputtered somewhat during the first 24 minutes, it took off in the second half behind the arm of Schneider and the legs of Smith. For the game, Smith toted the ball a dozen times for 100 yards and a pair of scores, while Schneider completed nine of 15 passes for 207 yards and a pair of scores. Schneider's favorite target was Reay who hauled in four balls for 83 yards and a score.
"He [Smith] is getting better and he played in the shadow of a good one [Carmone Parchman] last year," said Wildman. "But I think he is getting better and better each week, and he has some good kids up in front of him that make it a lot easier for him."
Rehabiliation: Wildman is also happy with the way Schneider bounced back from an earlier injury.
"He had a concussion against Beaver Falls," said Wildman. "We haven't said anything about it and we tried to keep the wraps on it for the past two weeks. This was a good time for him to break out of it a little bit and he did that tonight."
With the outcome, the Tigers remain spotless at 3-0, while the loss leaves Grove City still searching for its initial win in three starts.
Mercyhurst 47, Mercer 6: ERIE -- Mercyhurst Prep rolled up 366 yards rushing and cruised past Mercer. The Mustangs (0-3) scored in the second period on an 85-yard kickoff return by Luke Erdos.