A bitter end to season for Sharon Tigers
By Jason Mackey
Published: Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, 10:30 p.m.
In one play, the Sharon football team's season went from heartache to heartbreak.
Joe Dunn found Bryan Divido on a seam route with 13.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Girard a 22-19 victory over an emotional Tigers squad in the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals Monday at Erie's Veterans Stadium.
Sharon, which took the field less than 72 hours after a fatal car crash claimed the lives of two players and left two others with serious injuries, outplayed the Yellow Jackets for stretches, but couldn't finish the job.
All of those affected by the car crash were starters.
“It was hard to go into this game without our starters,” linebacker Troy Hejazi said afterward. “It's always the next man up. They're going to come up, and they're going to play their butts off. They did. It was a close game against an amazing team. We just fell apart at the end.”
Hejazi memorialized Corey Swartz — one of two killed along with Evan Gill — by donning the No. 9 jersey that Swartz wore, standing motionless during a moment of silence.
After Saturday's game was canceled, the senior class voted to play it Monday, figuring that's what Swartz and Gill would've wanted.
“We all worked our hardest,” safety Austin Alfreno said. “I know Evan and Corey would be proud. I know Craig and Greg (Osmon) back in the hospital are proud.”
Girard (9-2) advanced to play Greenville in the District 10 semifinals this week.
Carnell Hawkins ran for 176 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries for Sharon (6-5). Da'Mon Rudolph added a pair of rushing scores.
Despite heavy snow, Dunn completed 7 of 14 passes for 95 yards and score while also running 12 times for 67 yards.
“We expected them to be playing with emotion,” Girard coach Jim Funk said. “It's a tribute to coach (Jim) Wildman and to Sharon and their tradition that they would show up like that. It's a great win for us, but we still feel for them.”
Kendall Sheffield, wearing Greg Osmon's No. 72 jersey, opened the game with a stop 4 yards in the backfield to force a three-and-out on Girard's opening possession.
Hawkins' 5-yard run gave Sharon an early 7-0 lead, and quarterback Andrew Tomko, thrust into Gill's kicking duties, made his teammate proud by booting the extra point.
Dunn's 1-yard run pushed Girard ahead, 8-7.
Dunn added another scoring run before Rudolph scored from 8 yards to make it 14-13 Girard at halftime.
A Trenton Mosley interception set up Rudolph's second run, a 2-yarder late in the third, but Girard ran off 10 plays on its final drive, the last one a pass that found a weakness in Sharon's secondary.
“In spite of everything that's happened this year, we gave it our best,” Sharon coach Jim Wildman said. “It wasn't enough tonight.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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