Sharon Thumps Forest Hills to Earn Spot in Western Class AAA Finals
Written by: Phil Myers on Sunday, November 26th, 2017
The Sharon Tigers advanced to the Western AAA final next week by overwhelming the Forest Hills Rangers 45-25 Saturday afternoon at Penns Manor’s Pat Corrigan Field in Clymer. “It’s exciting,” said Jim Wildman, Sharon’s head coach who now owns 249 career wins.
Sharon was led by a trio of individuals who, in one way or the other, accounted for all six touchdowns and all of the offensive yardage on the day. Running back Jordan Wilson scored 4 times and rushed for 148 yards on 23 carries. Quarterback Lane Voytik fired the rock for 328 yards and 2 TDs on only 15 completions out of 22 attempts. Finally, Ziyon Strickland, one of the best wide receivers in D-10 history, accounted for 200 receiving markers on 7 receptions, one of which went for a touchdown. He ended the game with 292 all-purpose yards. “Ziyon’s an exciting kid. You know no matter where he’s lined up he’s dangerous,” asserted Coach Wildman.
Like two heavyweights trading haymakers, the Rangers and the Tigers traded scores in the first half with the lead exchanging hands five times. Eventually, Sharon went into the locker room with a 21-18 advantage after trailing 18-14. Making some defensive adjustments, Sharon took control in half two. “We made a change on our defensive alignment,” Wildman commented. “And we reminded kids of what their responsibility was and we shut ‘em out in the second half till the end there,” Wildman continued.
Forest Hills scored first when they converted a 4th and goal from the sixteen into a Cecere to Forrest Wolfhope 16-yard TD toss with 1:33 left on the first period clock. It appeared Wolfhope grabbed a tipped pass in the back of the end zone. Sharon answered 22 seconds later when Strickland hauled in a short look in pass and did the rest racing, juking, and making other moves on his way to a sixty yard touchdown. Aaron Nichols booted the PAT to give the Tigers the 7-6 lead, since FH had missed their extra point when it was blocked.
In the second stanza, 4 touchdowns were scored in a matter of four minutes and twenty-five seconds. Forest Hills regained the lead 12-7 and 18-14 on two Cecere scoring strikes, one to Evan Kunrod for 35 yards and one to Jon Long for 24 yards. Sharon re-took the lead at 14-12 and 21-18 on two Wilson runs, the first for three yards and the second on a 12 yarder to close out the first half scoring.
The second half begin as though the Rangers would forge ahead as they threatened by getting as far as the Tiger 23, but that is where the changes Sharon made on defense began to pay dividends. They forced four straight incompletions and subsequently drove 83 yards in less than a minute, after a penalty, to go up by two scores, 28-18.
On the next Ranger possession, they drove into Sharon real estate only to stall out, and once again the Tigers quickly marched down field, this time settling for a 30-yard Nichols field goal to go up 31-18 at the end of three quarters.
One of the keys to the game and what appeared to deflate the Rangers came on the next Forest Hills drive. Looking to pull within a score, Eric Elgin fumbled the ball as he powered his way inside the Sharon five, and Jordan Volpe was cat-like in pouncing on the loose pigskin at the five. It took the Tigers all of 5 plays to go 95 yards for the touchdown that KO’d the Rangers. Wilson tallied his third TD when he blasted his way into the end zone on a 19-yard run.
Later, Wilson scored from the five, the second play after Strickland returned a punt 71 yards to the nine. That was the 31st unanswered point the Tigers scored since Forest Hills had an 18-14 lead. Elgin closed out the scoring with a two-yard run for the Rangers very late in the game.
Game Notes and Quotes: Adam Cecere led Forest Hills by going 29 for 46 garnering 346 yards and 3 touchdowns. “He can certainly hurt you whether he’s running the ball or throwing it,” observed Wildman. Kunrod led the Ranger receiving corps with 7 catches for 113 yards. Sharon had 470 yards of offense to Forest Hills’ 434. Forest Hills finished with an 11-2 record, while the 10-3 Tigers move on and play Quaker Valley, the District 7 champ, next week. “We’re just paper Tigers moving through the west,” stated Wildman in reference to only having three players selected to the conference all-star team.
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