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Tigers contain Rockets’ high-octane offense

Written by: on Saturday, September 20th, 2008


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Sharon Area quarterback Todd Rearick pulled a “Houdini” in the first quarter of Saturday night’s football game, switching from jersey #8 to #11.

Slippery Rock’s offense also pulled a “Houdini” of a different sort – its offense all but disappeared in the second half.

Sharon Area (4-0) scored all of its points in the first half, and then the defense preserved the lead against Slippery Rock (3-1) and the powerful Rocket offense to win 17-10 from Slippery Rock Area High School Saturday night.

And Rocket’s head coach Clyde Conti noticed that Sharon wasn’t messing around early on.

“We got hit in the mouth early tonight,” the veteran coach said, “and we didn’t respond.  That’s how I saw it.”

Sharon took its first possession right down the field, marching 61 yards in 3:52.  Rearick capped the drive with an 11-yard scoring run, and the Tigers led 7-0.

Slippery Rock, not to be outdone, immediately countered.  Set up by a 48 yard kickoff return, the Rockets’ Wing-T scheme drove 45 yards in 10 plays while eating up 5:30 of clock.

The Rockets’ slippery quarterback, Jonathan Powell, scored from a yard out to cap the march, knotting the game at seven apiece.

Punch, counterpunch.  The Tigers countered with a Chris Flaugher 30 yard field goal, and Sharon held a 10-7 lead.

Once again, Slippery Rock matched the Sharon score with one of its own – this a 20 yard field goal by Michael Ramirez, to knot the game at 10-10 with 2:45 left in the first half.  The Ramirez field goal capped a 7:14 drive by the Rockets.

But Sharon countered the score, and did so in a big way.  With Rearick operating out of the shotgun, the Tiger field general completed passes of two and 12 yards to Mike Tomko and a 13-yarder to Ron Howard (3 rec., 61 yards; 10 rushes, 36 yards).  That moved Sharon to their own 47 yard line.

“We went out, looked each other in the eyes, and say, ‘Guys, it’s in our hands,’” Sharon head coach Bob Fromm said.  “If we want it, we just gotta grab it and take it away from them.”

Then, Rearick went for the kill, lofting a bomb down the visiting sideline for a streaking Tomko, who snared the pass and rolled into the end zone to complete the 53-yard touchdown.

Rearick’s stat line for the night was impressive: 8 completions in 14 attempts for 147 yards and a touchdown to go along with 13 rushes for 60 yards and another score.

“He played within himself.  He did what he had to do,” Fromm said of Rearick.  “He played a very heady football game tonight.”

Conti added some thoughts about Rearick.  “He’s a fine football player,” he said.  “He (Rearick) has a lot of weapons around him, too.”

The Rockets appeared to tie the game when Powell found a wide open Derrick Orloski from 35 yards out late in the first half.

But, much to the dismay of the then-frenzied Rocket crowd, the touchdown was negated by Powell’s illegal forward pass.  Powell was two yards beyond the line of scrimmage when he released the ball.

After halftime, Slippery Rock’s offense, which ran for 126 yards in the first half, was limited to just 20 yards. 

The Rockets entered the game averaging exactly 300 rushing yards per game.  This night, the scarlet and grey only totaled 146 yards on the ground.

And Rocket all-everything quarterback Powell, well, he finished with 16 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, while completing 7-of-11 passes for just 58 yards.

Isaac Osborne added 44 rushing yards on 12 carries for Slippery Rock, which finished with slightly over 200 yards of offense.

Kevin Brown added 21 rushing yards for Sharon.


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