Sharpsville Too Devilish for West MiddlesexWritten by: William Albright on Saturday, September 13th, 2008
By Bill Albright
Western PA Writer
WEST MIDDLESEX — Going into Friday night’s matchup between Sharpsville and West Middlesex, one might have had the feeling that it would be a tough, physical football game.
As it turned out, the game certainly lived up to the pre-game billing as the Blue Devils came back from two deficits to post a 20-18 win over the Big Reds.
Both teams scored three touchdowns, and in the end, it was a two-point conversion that proved to be the winning margin.
“You hate it when it comes down to special teams to beat you,” said West Middlesex coach Jason McElhaney. “But the fact of the matter is that we waited too long to play football tonight.”
Kyle Allen, who rushed for 135 yards on 15 carries, stunned the crowd as he took the handoff from quarterback Kyle Wimer and ripped off a 79-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage for a quick 6-0 West Middlesex lead.
“They did the same thing to us last year,” recalled Piccirilli about the quick score. “He (Allen) ran for about 85 yards on the first play of that game, but the thing that bothered us (Sharpsville coaches) tonight is we had guys around him. You have to have your feet under you because if you start lunging at him because his cutback is incredible. He is just a heckuva athlete.”
McElhaney agreed about the repeat performance.
“It was like deja vu all over again,” said McElhaney. “Last year we had an illegal motion penalty and then we popped a big one for a score and that was it. We missed the extra point in that one and it was the same old story for us tonight. Kyle is a good back and they are a well-coached football team.”
Allen finished with 135 yards on 15 totes. However, 79 of his yards came on the first play of the game, giving him 56 yards on the remaining 14 carries. Allen entered the game averaging better than 200 yards in his first two games.
After the game, both coaches agreed on Sharpsville strategy to slow down Allen.
“They (Sharpsville defenders) flow down hill to the football and we knew they were going to load the box against us,” said McElhaney. “We were just not mentally on our game in the first half. Kyle is a good back and they were smart for doing that.”
“We had 11 guys within five yards of the line of scrimmage and that is exactly what we did,” said Piccirilli. “We know they are a play-action team, and although we had a few breakdowns, I have to give our secondary a lot of credit. What we did was send a lot of guys at the quarterback and as a result, he (Kyle Wimer) had very little time to throw it (the football) and it worked our perfectly for us.”
Following the Allen score, the two teams traded four punts until the Blue Devils scored on their next two possessions to give the Blue Devils a 14-6 halftime lead.
Marcus Llewellyn scored the first Sharpsville touchdown on a 15-yard run, and on the next possession, Llewellyn again hit paydirt, this time from 40 yards out. For the game, the sophomore running back carried the ball 14 times for 110 yards.
Little did Piccirilli or McElhaney know that the 2-point conversion following Llewellyn’s first score, a pass from Frank Joseph to Matthew Totin, would be the deciding factor in the game.
“We saw in the films that they (West Middlesex) would come flying up on one side and stay back on the other,” explained Piccirilli about the two point conversion. “We took the gamble and it paid off for us.”
Trailing 14-6, the Big Reds crept closer in the waning moments of the third quarter when Nate Ash put together back-to-back runs of 40 and 25 yards for a touchdown before Ryan Chupak hauled in a 17-yard scoring pass from quarterback Kyle Wimer with seven minutes left in the game for a 18-14 West Middlesex lead.
Down, but not out, the young (only three seniors) Blue Devils did what they had to for the win as they answered the Chupak score by going 57 yards on eight plays, Josh Taylor doing the honors from three yards out for the game-winner.
West Middlesex had one last ditch opportunity to win the game, but the Blue Devil defensive unit rose to the occasion as it held West Middlesex short of the sticks on fourth down before running out the clock to preserve the win.
Following the game, McElhaney put his team’s first loss of the season in perspective.
“I just told the kids that we don’t like to celebrate a win very long so we aren’t going to dwell on a loss long either,” said McElhaney. “We will look at the films, fix our mistakes and get ready to play the next one because we have seven more weeks of football to play.”
As for Piccirilli, the veteran coach likes what he sees from his young troops.
“In my 28 years of coaching, this is the best group of kids as far as work ethic and attitude that I have ever had,” said Piccirilli. “We have had some great teams, but we always had three or four kids who wanted to do things their own way. But the kids on this team are all on the same page and starting with the off-season, it has just been a pleasure to work with them. We lost a tough one to Hickory, but they came out Saturday and Monday with the attitude of let’s just get to the next one. I am very pleased with them.”
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