Defense Sparks Sharon in Win Over Sandwich

Juvan Elisma
Juvan Elisma (20) ran for a pair of touchdowns to lead Sharon to a 20-14 victory over Sandwich. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
SHARON, Mass. – Sharon’s offense moved the ball each of their first three drives but a turnover on downs and a pair of turnovers halted the momentum each team.
But the Eagles’ defense stood tall and got that momentum back. Sandwich got the ball back via an interception shortly after taking a 7-0 lead Facing a 4th and 1 situation, the Blue Knights elected to go for it but quarterback Tyler Cairns lost the ball in the push forward and Sharon senior Joey Dowler scooped up the loose ball and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.
Sharon was in control from there on out and pick up its first win of the season, 20-14, over Sandwich.
Sandwich took the lead on its third drive of the game after taking over at Sharon’s 11 yard following their first interception of the game. The Blue Knights used two plays to punch it in to go up 7-0 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Dowler’s fumble return tied the game and kept spirits high for the Eagles. Sharon allowed only 17 yards on Sandwich’s ensuing drive and forced a punt. The offense wasted little time to move up the field as Juvan Elisma took the first play 44 yards up the right sideline and then quarterback Rob Bayha hit Bryce Smith for a 23 yard completion. Back to back hand offs to Elisma result in the Eagles’ first lead of the game as he punched it in from six yards out to make it 14-7.
Sandwich’s offense came back out shortly before the halftime break looking to try and level things but Sharon’s defense was stout and the Eagles took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
“They scored seven points when they had a pick and put them in the short field so I don’t put that one on the defense,” Sharon head coach Dave Morse said. “So we really didn’t give up a defensively touchdown until the second half late on a botch play by us. I was very confident in our defense. They knew their assignments and they were executing very well so I was very happy with them.”
Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
Sharon started the second half with the ball and used 10 plays to go 65 yards to extend their lead, helped along by a couple of Sandwich penalties. After gaining just four yards on the first three downs, Sharon punted but punter Craig Titus was practically tackled after his kick and the Blue Knights were flagged for roughing the punter. A 15-yard completion from Bayha to Bryce Smith helped move the ball up field. Facing 4th and 8 at the Sandwich 29, the Eagles were able to use a hard count to draw the Blue Knights offside. On 4th and 3, Bayha hooked up with Titus for a 5 yard completion and a first down.
Elisma then took the next two plays, the first for 14 yards and the second for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 20-14.
“[Juvan] did a good job, he always seems to be falling forward,” Morse said. “He apologized for the late fumble but that’s an inexperienced kid and that stuff is going to get eliminated. All the good things he did, he’ll just keep improving on.”
Sandwich’s offense couldn’t get anything going on their ensuing drive while Sharon tried to chew up some clock on their next drive but had to punt it back to the Blue Knights. Both teams traded punts one more time as clock continued to tick away in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Knights once again fumbled away possession and it was Sharon’s Tyler Smith that pounced on the loose ball. Sharon was able to get a first down but then had to punt three plays later.
Facing a 3rd and six just over halfway through the final quarter, Sandwich was able to pull within a touchdown. A broken play allowed Cairns to evade a pair of Sharon defenders and then launch a pass to Jake Carter. Carter found himself open after the Eagles’ defender tripped up and he went all the way for a 66 yard touchdown.
Sandwich tried an onside kick with 5:33 left but Sharon’s Mitchell Liberman fell onto the ball after it was kicked directly at him.
Sharon moved all the way into the red zone and on 4th and 2 tried to convert but Elisma had the ball knocked out as he tried to push for the first down. The Blue Knights were able to into Sharon’s half to the 41 but constant pressure from the Eagles front line forced Cairns into numerous situations where he either was sacked or had to throw it away (twice flagged for intentional grounding). Bryce Smith had a big pass break up while Peter Banks had a sack on the second to last play.
“We showed up physically up front on both sides of the ball and that was a big difference,” Morse said about the difference from last week to this week. “We had a couple of lapses but we’re going to improve on those. But football is pretty simple, it doesn’t matter how many receivers you have on the field, if you can’t win up front you’re not going to win.”
Sharon (1-1) will open its Davenport Division schedule on Friday night when they take a trip to Ahern Middle School to take on Foxboro (2-0).
Click HERE for photo gallery from the game.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.