MERCER — If you blinked, you missed it.
Sharpsville scored three times in the first seven minutes of the game and ultimately rolled to a 46-0 victory over Mercer in Region 1 action to spoil Senior Night festivities Saturday evening in the county seat.
“Listen, you can’t recover in games like this when that happens,” Mercer coach Jeff Lockard said. “You just can’t. I don’t know what else to say about (the start). Are we gonna keep battling? Hell yeah, we are! That’s one thing we do pretty good here in Mercer. We’ll clean some things up for Wilmington and see how the chips fall.”
Class 1A Mercer (2-4, 3-4) got a healthy dose of Chris Roth, Ian Smith and Zack Tedrow on the Devils’ first drive before Roth slammed it in from one-yard out for an early 8-0 lead after Tedrow’s two-point conversion.
After 3A Sharpsville (3-2, 5-3) forced a punt on the Mustangs’ first offensive possession, the snap sailed over punter Troy Bachman’s head and into the endzone, but Bachman was tackled in the endzone for a 10-0 Blue Devils lead just 6:03 into the contest.
Less than a minute later, the Devils effectively put the game away with an eight-yard touchdown carry from Smith.
“At the beginning of the game, I said we couldn’t make mistakes and we made one right off the bat,” Lockard said. “That’s our back-up long snapper, but you can’t do that against good teams. You’ll lose and you’ll lose bad!”
Caullin Summers and Garen Levis hooked up on back-to-back six-yard touchdowns to take a 34-0 lead into the break, while Roth’s one-yard burst in the third quarter enacted the mercy rule with 8:28 remaining in the third quarter.
Colby Johnson closed out the scoring for the Blue Devils with a quarterback sneak after another errant Mercer punt snap midway through the fourth quarter.
“No excuses, they just beat us,” Lockard said. “I would’ve liked to have four or five of my guys playing tonight, but long term, I think we’re getting out of here healthy. That’s issue number one. Issue number two is we have another tough one next week (against Wilmington), so we’ll get ready for that.
“You have to fight through adversity and that’s about life. Somewhere along the way in your life you’re going to have adversity no matter what. It’s about how you come out of that adversity that makes you a better person and how people judge you.”
Down five starters, Mercer struggled to get anything going offensively, finishing with just seven yards of total offense. Sharpsville held the Mustangs to negative-25 yards rushing.
“We were terrible,” Lockard said. “It goes to show you in smaller programs when you take two guys off the offensive line it makes a difference. Nothing against my younger guys because they stepped up and did the best they could do. It’s just something you have to deal with with smaller schools and you’re only dressing 28 because of injuries and things like that.”
Even with the difficult loss, Lockard is efforting to keep his players’ focus on the bigger picture — a potential District 10 Class 1A playoff spot.
The D10 Class A tournament is slated to get started on either October 29 or 30 and will feature a maximum of eight teams.
“I think we’re in (the District 10 playoffs), so for me, there’s a lot of game management type of stuff that has to happen,” Lockard said. “We have to get healthy, because the big picture stuff is coming in a couple weeks. I want to be ready for that.
“Bottom line is we, as a team, have to take the positives out of playing these teams (perennial District 10 powers Sharpsville, Farrell, Wilmington, etc) and have to get better ourselves. That’s the only way we can look at it. We have to step up and play at their level. We’re not there, yet, but we’re taking steps to get there. As goofy as it sounds, I think playing two of the better teams in the region is going to help us. I really do. We’re not going to see a Sharpsville or Wilmington in the Class A playoffs, so I have to channel that into the guys.”
Prior to the game, Mercer honored its 14-member senior class.
“It’s a great group of kids top to bottom,” Lockard said. “They’ve been with me the whole time through some bad times. They’ve never quit and they’ve never let up. That shows what type of people this group of seniors are.”
NOTES: Mercer was led by Jake Badger’s nine carries for 23 yards and Logan Turton’s three receptions for 23 yards. ... Sharpsville was playing without placekicker Liam Campbell, who has converted 16-of-19 extra points and 1-of-4 field goals on the season, and was forced into attempting two-point conversions after each touchdown. ... The Devils improved to 14-6 all-time at Mercer. ... Roth led Sharpsville with a 15-carry, 75-yard, two-touchdown effort, while Summers completed 8-of-14 passes for 139 yards. Levis pulled in four passes for 59 yards and Zack Tedrow — who had three two-point conversions — had two grabs for 74 yards.
SHARPSVILLE 26 8 6 6 46
MERCER 0 0 0 0 0
S — Roth, 1-yard run (Tedrow run)
S — Safety
S — Smith, 8-yard run (Tedrow pass from C. Summers)
S — Levis, 6-yard pass from C. Summers (Tedrow pass from Summers)
S — Levis, 6-yard pass from C. Summers (Summers run)
S — Roth, 1-yard run (run failed)
S — Johnson, 1-yard run (run failed)
17 FIRST DOWNS 4
191 RUSH YARDS -25
139 PASS YARDS 32
330 TOTAL YARDS 7
14-8-1 ATT-COM-INT 14-4-0
2-1 FUMBLES-LOST 2-1
3-20 PENALTIES 4-30
RUSHING — SHARPSVILLE: Roth 15-75, Smith 6-30, Heyward 5-22, C. Summers 2-22, Tedrow 3-18, B. Summers 6-17, White 1-6, Johnson 1-1; MERCER: Badger 9-23, Hall 5-8, Turton 3-(-2), Snyder 1-(-3), Wiley 4-(-8).
PASSING — SHARPSVILLE: C. Summers 8-14-1 139; MERCER: Wiley 4-14-0 32.
RECEIVING — SHARPSVILLE: Levis 4-59, Tedrow 2-76, Smith 2-4; MERCER: Turton 3-23, Ferguson 1-9.