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North Catholic QB bounces back, keys victory over Avonworth

| Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 10:51 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Avonworth's Richard Giles dives into the end zone against North Catholic on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's P.J. Fulmore makes a catch in front of Avonworth's Jesse Zubik on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Avonworth's Josh Drwal leaves North Catholic defenders behind on his way to a second-quarter touchdown on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's P.J. Fulmore cuts through the Avonworth defense on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's Adam Sharlow runs for a second-quarter touchdown past Avonworth's Josh Drwal on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
North Catholic's Adam Sharlow (right) avoids Avonworth's Vince Bevilacqua on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth High School.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Fog over takes the field during the North Catholic-Avonworth game Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at Avonworth.

Adam Sharlow couldn't let that cost his team a shot at the Eastern Conference title.

Despite botching a punt that went for a loss of 4 yards and led to Avonworth's first score, North Catholic's junior quarterback bounced back in a big way by rushing for a pair of scores to key a 21-12 road win.

No. 2 North Catholic improved to 6-0, 6-0 and seized control of the WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference.

“I was never worried,” Sharlow said. “I know my team inside and out, and I knew we were going to fight through the adversity.

“I knew that we were going to come out on top. We had the heart, we fought through it, and we got the win.”

Sharlow rushed for 90 yards on 25 carries, scoring on runs of 25 and 7 yards. He also completed 8 of 21 passes for 106 yards.

There was no bigger moment for Sharlow, however, than his second touchdown run, when he scored on fourth down to cap a 15-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 9 minutes, 7 seconds.

“A 15-play drive, chewed up nine minutes in the third quarter … that's the way to respond,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said.

North Catholic didn't seal the win until Ronnie Meder tipped a pass, and Jarred Fragalpane rumbled 17 yards into the end zone.

“That was the greatest feeling in the world,” Fragalpane said. “I was probably smiling at the 10-yard line.”

Trojans running back P.J. Fulmore returned from an ankle injury that had sidelined him since Week 1 and rushed for 60 yards.

Moses Giles led sixth-ranked Avonworth (5-1, 4-1) with 81 rushing yards. Josh Drwal caught five passes for 52 yards.

To set up Avonworth's first touchdown, Sharlow ran to his right, seemingly thinking about kicking it, running it, then kicking it again, and he flubbed the kick for a punt that netted minus-4 yards.

After a pair of runs, quarterback Matt Donovan found Drwal on a crossing route for a 20-yard touchdown pass a little more than two minutes into the second quarter.

North Catholic answered on its next possession, getting two completions from Sharlow to Meder and a 25-yard scoring run from Sharlow where he absorbed a vicious hit at the line of scrimmage.

Jesse Zubik's weaving, 69-yard kickoff return to open the second half set the stage for a 2-yard run from Giles that pushed Avonworth ahead, 12-7, just 20 seconds into the third quarter.

Avonworth missed a chance to stretch the lead when Cole Pappas' 34-yard field goal midway through the third was tipped and fell short of the uprights.

“We put points up on the board there, it's a whole different story,” Johncour said.

Instead it was Sharlow, looking to make up for an early mistake, who wrote his own story.

“He's a tough runner,” Trojans coach Bob Ravenstahl said. “You saw that tonight.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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