SHERMAN - Still smarting from a Week Five defeat in which they surrendered 239 rushing yards and 34 points, the Sherman Wildcats bounced back in a big way against visiting Franklinville on Saturday.
Shrugging off poor weather, poorer field conditions and a number of outside distractions - it was, after all, homecoming and senior day - the Wildcats' defense wouldn't let itself be gashed a second time as it held Franklinville, a squad that was riding high coming into the contest after upsetting Class C Falconer the week before, to just 77 yards on the ground while forcing six fumbles (two lost) - including three in the first quarter alone - on the way to a 26-7 Class DD victory at Harry W. Brosius Field.
"I'm very proud of them," Sherman coach Bob Krenzer said. "We had a lot of issues this week. It was homecoming, it was senior day and we had severe mud today - (it was) just unreal - and they won anyway."
Above, Dylan Scouten of Sherman breaks tackles to pick up yardage against Franklinville in Saturday’s Class DD football game. Below, Sherman quarterback Andrew Graham (2) has room to run thanks to a block from teammate Devin Moorhead (5). See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
The victory was an important one, as it moved the Wildcats to 5-1 overall and, most importantly, 4-1 in league. That puts them just a game back of Clymer, which finished league play with a 5-1 record, and in a tie with Ellicottville, winners on Saturday over Panama (3-3), 35-8, for second place. With only its game at winless Forestville remaining, Sherman figures to match the Pirates' mark. Ellicottville, meanwhile, has a slightly more contentious battle with Franklinville.
With a stout defense putting a halt to any sort of Franklinville offense, it was the Wildcats' third drive of the game - and first of the second quarter - that proved to be the most crucial.
After a long punt by the Hornets (3-3, 2-3) pinned the hosts down at their own 15, Krenzer's crew went about putting together a methodical drive in order to move down the field. It started with a 5-yard run by Devin Moorhead, then at eight yarder. After a fumble on the center-quarterback exchange (that was recovered by the Wildcats), quarterback Andrew Graham, on third and 10, called his own number with a bootleg right that went for 15 yards. Two plays later Graham, who finished with 36 passing yards and 84 rushing yards on seven carries, hit tight end Dylan Scouten on a 15-yard out to push his team to into Franklinville territory.
"It was a hard day to throw the ball and the mud was tough," Krenzer said, "but with the wind blowing we did complete some passes."
Four plays later, Graham found Scouten yet again, this time for 10 yards, and then the junior quarterback burst through a sea of bodies and across the goaline from a yard out to put Sherman ahead, 6-0. A conversion run by Graham moments later and Sherman had, as it turned out, all the points it would need to secure the victory.
When it was all said and done, Sherman had traveled 75 yards - going a perfect 3 of 3 on third-down conversions - in 16 plays while eating nine minutes of clock.
"(Franklinville) was playing a 5-3 defense and changing to a 4-4," Krenzer said what he saw during the successful drive. "It was a defense that we've seen all year. The kids should have known their assignments, and obviously did know their assignments, and we just run our standard plays and ground it out."
Sherman kept the eight-point advantage at half, and made it 14-0 early in the third quarter after Moorhead (23 rushes for a team-high 110 yards, including a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter), from the 1, fumbled into the end zone and quick-thinking offensive lineman Dominique Rammelt dove on it for the score.
Franklinville managed to cut the deficit to seven on their next drive after Sherman attempted an onsides kick and gave them a short field. But whatever momentum the visitors had gained from that series of plays quickly dissipated on the ensuing kickoff when the Hornets attempted an onsides kick of their own and Sherman recovered the ball, moved 57 yards down the field and punched it in with a Graham keeper to push the advantage to 13, 20-7.
Led by Trevor Enterline (14 tackles, sack and three forced fumbles) and Jake Toy (10 tackles, sack) Franklinville failed to move the ball into Sherman territory in its final three possessions.
"Once we got through the third quarter (with the lead)," Krenzer said, "I had a good feeling. Our kids did a real nice job defensively."
Franklinville0 0 7 0 - 7
Sherman0 8 6 12 - 26
She - Moorhead 1 run (Moorhead run).
She - Rammelt fumble recovery (run failed).
Fra - Bacher 2 run (Kopp kick).
She - Graham 5 run (kick failed).
She - Moorhead 25 run (kick failed).