By Bobby Bayha Sports Correspondent. The Sharon High football team won Saturday’s division game against Canton 30-14, propelling them into the MIAA Division 3 playoffs. The Eagles overcame a 14-0 deficit, and will travel to Dartmouth Friday night (10/30) for the opening round of the playoffs.
Neither Canton nor Sharon scored in the first quarter Saturday, but both team’s offenses moved the ball into the opposing team’s territory. Canton had the Eagles on their heels at the Sharon 20 yard line, but a fumbled snap by the quarterback and a recovery by Xavier Hackett got the Eagles the ball back.
A quick forced turnover for Canton on the ensuing Sharon possession gave the Bulldogs excellent field position once again, and they were able to capitalize. On the 8th play of the drive the Bulldogs scored on a 5-yard rushing touchdown, giving them a 7-0 lead.
Canton stuffed Sharon on their next possession, forcing a quick three and out. The following Sharon punt was blocked, and gave the Bulldogs another short field to work with. Canton took advantage of the Eagles special team miscue, and scored on a 30-yard heave into double coverage. The made extra point extended the Bulldogs lead to 14-0.
Desperate to stop Canton’s momentum and put points on the board, the Eagles moved the ball with strong running from running back Juvan Elisma, who eventually scored on a 33 yard touchdown. The touchdown made the score 14-7 just before halftime.
After stopping Canton on their first possession of the second half, the Eagles moved the ball down to the Canton 10 yard line, highlighted by two 15 yard personal foul penalties against the Bulldogs. Facing a fourth and goal from the 10, Coach Morse elected to attempt a field goal. Josh Rotman’s kick split the uprights, and shortened the Canton lead to 14-10.
On the ensuing kickoff Sharon used an onside kick, and recovered the loose football. Sharon was ultimately unable to do anything with the possession however, and punted after being unable to get a first down.
The Eagles intercepted their first of four passes on the next Canton possession. Facing a third and 7 from their own 21, the Canton quarterback was intercepted by Bryce Smith, returning it to the Bulldogs 11. Sharon took their first lead of the game on a 7-yard touchdown from running back Matt Cancian. Rotman’s extra point gave the Eagles the lead, 17-14.
A quick three and out forced by the Sharon defense got the Eagle’s offense the ball back. A 26-yard pass from Rob Bayha to Tyler Smith and a 15-yard pass interference penalty on Canton brought the Eagles deep into the Bulldogs territory. Matt Cancian ultimately scored his second touchdown of the day on a 15-yard rush, extending the lead to 23-14.
On both Canton and Sharon’s next possessions, the opposing defense forced a punt. On Canton’s next drive Bryce Smith intercepted his second pass of the game, and got the Eagles the ball at the Canton 13 yard line. Sharon got a first down, but fumbled at the goal line and the Bulldogs got the ball back. On just the first play of Canton’s next drive, Matt Cancian intercepted the Bulldogs pass. On the third play of the Eagle’s drive, Rob Bayha found Bryce Smith down the sideline for a 30 yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 30-14 lead with just over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs were intercepted for a fourth time with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Tyler Smith intercepted the pass at around midfield, getting the ball back to the offense to finish the game.
Captain Kevin Jones said the win was huge for not only the team but also the school as a whole. “Beating Canton was a huge win for our program as well as for the school. There will be a lot of buzz about the game and we will need to have a big crowd in Dartmouth” said Jones.
Captain Matt Cancian said the team has started to click at just the right time. “The past month or so we’ve really stepped up our game and played confidently. I think we’re starting to click and we’re hitting our stride heading into the playoffs just at the right time” said Cancian.
The #7 Sharon Eagles will travel to #2 Dartmouth Indians, the defending Division III Super Bowl Champions, on Friday October 30th at 7:00 PM.