Sheffield's stingy defense held strong as long as it could, waiting for the offense to break through.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, it never happened.
The Wolverines (0-2) played inspired during their home opener with Elk County Catholic Saturday at Sheffield Area High School, but ultimately fell to the Crusaders, 18-0.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Cool under pressure
Sheffield quarterback Shequan Wright, right, keeps his eyes up field while a pair of Elk County Catholic defenders give chase during a District 9 football game Saturday at Sheffield Area High School. The Wolverines dropped to 0-2 on the year after an 18-0 loss to the visiting Crusaders.
The first score of the game didn't come until the second half was just over nine minutes old. It took an impact play to break the scoreless tie as Elk County tailback Brock McCullough broke through the line and chugged 46 yards to put his team on top, 6-0.
After breaking the seal on the end zone, Elk County would add two more scores in the final quarter of the contest. First, Joe McLaughlin scored from six yards out with 9:39 to play and the visitors' Ben Cortina added a 10-yard touchdown score with just 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite not scoring until the second half, Elk County had its chances in the first 24 minutes. It was stout Sheffield defense that kept the visitors off the board. Sophomore defensive end Antwuan Renwick ended one deep drive with a fourth down sack and Brendan Winslow came up with not one, but two, interceptions while the Crusaders were in the red zone.
Elk County Catholic - Sheffield Stats
E - Brock McCullough 46 yard run, 2:46, pass failed
E - Joe McLaughlin 6 yard run, 9:39, run failed
E - Ben Cortina 10 yard run, 0:10, kick failed
RUSHING- E- Brock McCullough 11 for 71, TD, Ben Cortuna 11 for 52, TD, Hank Cappiello7 for 51, Joe McLaughlin 11 for 43, TD, Mitchell Vallone 8 for -20; S- Brandon Johnston 10 for 43, Dylan McNeal 1 for 15, Dylan Smith 2 for 3, Jesse Lopez-Thompson 1 for 3, Shequan Wright 12 for -29
PASSING - E- Mitchell Vallone 3 of 8 for 23, 2 INT, Joe McLaughlin 0 for 1 for 0; S- Shequan Wright 3 of 12 for 33, 3 INT
RECEIVING - E- Clayton Housler 1 for 22, Devin Constable 1 for 16, Brock McCullough 1 for -15; S- Dylan Reynolds 1 for 8, Brendan Winslow 1 for 13, Brandon Johnston 1 for 12
"Those interceptions were big for us", said Sheffield coach Dave Fitch. "Brendan gets the defensive game ball today for sure."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Wolverines were never able to get things rolling.
"Penalties and turnovers killed us," said Fitch. "We aren't a team that can take those kind of blows and bounce back."
Several potential big plays from the Sheffield offense were called back due to penalties.
One bright spot on offense was the return of Brandon Johnston. Johnston made his season debut Saturday, leading the team with 43 rushing yards on 10 carries.
The Wolverines will look for that elusive first victory Friday when they travel to Brockway.