CURWENSVILLE - The game did not go as planned, but Sheffield's effort in a hard-fought season went until the final play.
Sheffield trailed early - like it has in many games this season, but the Wolverines couldn't come back this time, in a 56-32 District 9 Class A playoff loss at Curwensville.
"We reached a lot of milestones this year," said Sheffield coach Dave Fitch. "What I told the kids was to leave the field with your dignity and respect, and no one will ever be able to take being the first AML North champions away from you."
Sheffield finished 4-1 in the Allegheny Mountain League North Division, but lost its first-ever appearance in the AML title game - in the 28-year history of the AML championship. Losing to Curwensville two weeks ago and then Kane in the AML title game, plus the playoff loss Friday, ends Sheffield's season at 5-6 overall.
The Wolverines found themselves in a familiar position - down 21-0, after a rough first quarter that saw the Golden Tide return a fumble for a touchdown and run two more in. However, as the Wolverines have been down throughout their entire AML North winning season, they battled back.
Not even a minute into the second quarter, Sheffield quarterback Adam Higby connected on a touchdown pass to Noah Heeter for 48 yards. Heeter would finish the game with two scores on the day.
Curwensville's first play of its next drive resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Sheffield. A few run plays later, Jareke Jackson would get his first of three scores in the game, with a 12-yard carry to put the Wolverines within seven.
"We started out a little rocky against these guys," said Fitch. "For us to start out down 21-0 to these guys, and bounce back to 21-14, showed the heart and soul of this team."
The Wolverines' comeback sparked the Golden Tide offense and running back Zach Tibbens to unload. Tibbens would score back to back touchdowns of 35 and 28 yards. An Alex Olson 11-yard run with under two minutes to go in the half gave Curwensville a comfortable 42-14 lead.
"We might have sparked a little hornets nest," said Fitch. "They went on another big run."
After giving up two more touchdowns to Tibbens and the Golden Tide in the third quarter, the Wolverines were trailing 56-14.
Jackson ran for 101 yards on five carries in the second half for Sheffield and reached the end zone two more times in the fourth quarter. As time was running out, Jackson received what would be the final play of the 2013 Sheffield Wolverines. While trying to shake defenders, Jackson lost the ball, but Heeter grabbed the fumble and carried it 50 yards for the final score of the game.
"We were able to get a couple of touchdowns in the end of the game," said Fitch. "Tried to make it a respectable score."
The No. 2 seed in the Class A playoffs, Curwensville (9-1) next meets Redbank Valley (7-3) - the No. 3 seed that defeated Ridgway on Friday.
C-Kyle Billings, 35 fumble return, 11:41 (Jason Thorp kick)
C-Kyle Johns, 1 run, 8:06 (kick failed)
C-Zach Tibbens 41 run, 3:01 (Alex Olson run)
S-Noah Heeter 48 pass from Adam Higby, 11:05 (Jimmy Vile kick)
S-Jareke Jackson 12 run, 8:54 (Vile kick)
C-Tibbens 35 run, 7:04 (Thorp kick)
C-Tibbens 28 run, 3:45 (Thorp kick)
C-Olson 11 run, 1:45 (Thorp kick)
C-Tibbens 3 run, 8:49 (Thorp kick)
C-Tibbens 6 run, 6:28 (Thorp kick)
S-Jackson 10 run, 11:20 (conversion failed)
S-Jackson 52 run, 4:09 (conversion failed)
S-Heeter 50 run, 0:00 (no kick)
RUSHING-Sheffield, Jackson 21-175, 3TD, Dustin Holden 7-39, Brandon Kipp 3-5, Higby 3-(-6), Heeter 0-50, TD; Curwensville, Tibbens 19-185, 5TD, Olson 5-44, TD, Trey McKenzie 4-16, Hunter Johnson 2-6, Dakota 2-2, Johns 1-1, Austin Jacobson 1-0, Ben Junod 1-0, Dylan Smay 5-(-6)
PASSING-Sheffield, Higby 5-of-15-93 yards, TD, INT; Curwensville, Johns 4-of-7-36 yards.
RECEIVING-Sheffield, Heeter 1-48 TD, Nic Confer 2-38, Kipp 2-7; Curwensville, Travis Lansberry 3-31, Logan Passmore 1-5.