CURWENSVILLE - Sheffield came out on the wrong side of its anticipated matchup with Curwensville on Friday night, falling to the AML South Golden Tide, 38-14.
The Wolverines (5-4) could never find an answer for Curwensville's ground attack - Zach Tibbens racked up 238 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.
Tibbens started putting up big numbers immediately, as he carried the ball nine straight times for 67 yards and a touchdown on the Tide's first possession. The point after was missed, but Jason Thorp would hit a 30-yard field goal before the end of the quarter to make the score 9-0.
Curwensville (8-1) continued to feed Tibbens the ball, and it paid off with an eight-yard touchdown run shortly before halftime. He would add two more scores in the third quarter, and Alex Olson would then recover a Wolverines fumble in the endzone, putting Sheffield in a 38-0 hole heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wolverines were finally able to move the ball in the final minutes, and Brandon Kipp put them on the board with a 14-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Adam Higby then found Nic Confer for a two-point conversion.
Higby would later complete a five-yard touchdown pass to Noah Heeter on the final play of the game.
The Wolverines struggled to run the ball all game, finishing with just 79 yards on 29 carries. Higby finished 10-of-20 with 85 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Curwensville attempted just three passes - completing only one, but rushed for 277 yards.
"We knew they were gonna be a power team," said Sheffield coach Dave Fitch. "We knew they were gonna come right at us between the tackles. I thought we were just a tad bit flat. We showed some success, we'd stop them one or two plays and then we'd give up a big one. Anytime you come down here - you got an hour and forty-five minute bus ride - if you don't get off that bus prepared, those guys are going to take it to you right on the first play."
The AML North champions, Sheffield will take on host Kane (10-0) Friday for the AML title. With a win, Sheffield would receive one of two automatic District 9 Class A playoff berths. A loss, however, would likely put them in the bottom half of the eight playoff teams through an at-large bid.
Sheffield knows it has its hands full with Kane, which defeated them in their season opener, 34-6. Kane is also responsible for the Golden Tide's only loss, winning that contest 42-8.
"We went over to Port (Allegany) and took a loss over there, and we came back last week and won the AML North," said Fitch. "I don't want anything different out of this week. The challenge is to pick their heads up a little bit, understand the team that they are, understand the game that they've worked for and the opportunity that lies ahead, and that's what this week in practice will be about."
C-Zach Tibbens 16 run, 7:43 (kick failed)
C-Jason Thorp 30 FG, 1:03
C-Tibbens 8 run, 1:03 (Alex Olson run)
C-Tibbens 5 run, 4:01 (Thorp kick)
C-Tibbens 22 run, :42 (Thorp kick)
C-Olson 0 fumble recovery (Thorp kick)
S-Brandon Kipp 14 run, 6:03 (Nic Confer pass from Adam Higby)
S-Noah Heeter 5 pass from Higby, 0.0
RUSHING-S-Jereek Jackson 17-32, Dustin Holden 5-35, Kipp 5-23, 1 TD, Higby 2-(-11); C-Tibbens 32-238, 4 TD, Olson 4-29, Kyle Johnson 2-7, Jake Lancaster 4-3, Hunter Johnson 1-0, Trey McKenzie 1-0.
PASSING-S-Higby 10-20 for 85 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; C-Johns 1-3 for 24 yards.
RECEIVING-S-Jimmy Vile 3-48, Heeter 2-18, 1 TD, Confer 1-13, Kipp 1-11, Tommy Reeves 1-2, Holden 1-0, Jackson 1-(-7); C-Travis Lansberry 1-24.