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Bulldogs squeak past Seals

Written by: on Saturday, September 4th, 2021. Follow Cody Smith on Twitter.

 

SELINSGROVE – Just last Friday night the Jersey Shore Bulldogs opened their 2021 football season coming off the heels of a PIAA state championship appearance. In that very opening game, the Bulldogs posted 55 points and shut out the Bellefonte Red Raiders. But last week was last week, and coach Tom Gravish and the Bulldogs entered last night’s road matchup with Selinsgrove looking nothing like the team that posted 55 points the week prior.

“I don’t know if we were reading a little too many papers or whatever,” said Gravish. “It was a hard-fought game and we know we didn’t play our best game. Give Selinsgrove credit. We told our kids that coming down here to play, you better be ready.”

The Selinsgrove defense stifled a potent Jersey Shore offense, holding the visiting team to single-digit points. Unfortunately for the home team, single digits weren’t quite enough as the Seals dropped a tough 9-7 game to drop to 0-2 to open the season.

“In the first half I thought we played extremely well on both sides of the ball, but the offense fizzled in a little bit in the second half,” said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks. “We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of mistakes that killed a couple of drives. We were playing the number three team in the state and it was right there for the taking, we just couldn’t quite make a play when we had to.”

Things were looking up for the majority of the game for the Seals, but a fourth-quarter field goal by junior kicker Breck Miller wound up winning the game for the Bulldogs.

“We have so much faith in (Breck Miller),” said Coach Gravish, “When we saw him kicking in the summertime, we thought we’ve got a nice weapon.”

Selinsgrove won the game’s opening coin toss and deferred to the second half to get its potent defense on the field.

The result was back-to-back three and outs by Jersey Shore’s stout offense in which the team gained just 10 yards of offense.

It took a while for Selinsgrove to find its way on offense, but as the first quarter came to a close, the Seals found themselves in the midst of their longest drive of the night.

The time-consuming Selinsgrove offense ground out a nine-play drive where the running back duo of Brandon Hiles and Tucker Teats combined for 25 rushing yards. Hiles ended up leading all rushers in the game with 57 yards on 16 carries.

Unfortunately for the Seals, the drive ended early when a bad snap caused the Seals to lose five yards to bring up a fourth-and-eight at the Jersey Shore 33-yard line. It was the second consecutive drive that the Seals decided to punt from inside the Jersey Shore 40-yard line.

Once again the defense stood strong, forcing the Bulldogs to punt from deep in their own territory. Just five plays later, Selinsgrove posted its lone score of the night to take a 7-0 lead.

On a second-and-six, Teats took a handoff and bounced outside. Breaking a tackle, Teats used his speed to dash down the right sideline for a 23-yard rushing score.

Following the touchdown drive, the Selinsgrove defense continued to step up time after time. Selinsgrove forced Jersey Shore to turn the ball over on four consecutive possessions including a fumble recovery, an interception, and a pair of turnover on downs.

Perhaps the most impressive stop came with two minutes remaining in the opening half. Selinsgrove was forced to punt from deep in its own territory. Punter Carter Young boomed a kick across the 50-yard line, but the long kick left room for Kooper Peacock to pick up a few blocks and spring into the open field. Peacock was caught from behind just a few strides from the endzone, setting up a drive from inside the Seals’ 10.

Following an incomplete pass, the Seals defense pounced on first-year starter Brady Jordan, forcing and recovering a fumble to end the Bulldogs’ threat of tying up the game.

“You can’t do that,” said Gravish of his team’s somewhat sloppy play to close the first half. “Usually teams will convert those turnovers into points, but we stopped them for the most part and only allowed them to score once.”

Following the halftime break, the Bulldogs finally got on the board. It their opening drive of the second half, the Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-six at the Selinsgrove 14 yard-line. Gravish kept the offense on the field despite its lack of success on the night, and Jordan scrambled just long enough for Peacock to get open and haul in a 13-yard reception to give Jersey Shore first-and-goal at the one yard-line. Hadyn Packer powered into the endzone on the following play, but a bad snap on the point-after-try allowed Selinsgrove to cling to a slim 7-6 lead.

Despite the solid effort from the Selinsgrove defense, the Bulldogs did just enough to edge ahead in the fourth quarter.

The team once again needed a fourth-down conversion to keep the drive alive, but it once again stalled out inside the Selinsgrove red zone. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they had a solid kicker to lean on.

“He’s a confident young man,” said Gravish. “We’ve had good kickers in the past, but he can give us some good kickoffs and he proved to be the difference tonight.”

Miller split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal with just under eight minutes remaining in the game to put Jersey Shore up 9-7.

Selinsgrove’s last-ditch effort to pull out a late victory came up just short. With the ball in its own territory and just 44 seconds on the clock, Jersey Shore committed a pair of personal foul penalties on back-to-back plays to put Selinsgrove in a good spot. However, on a desperation heave with time expiring, Connor Griffin came down with a game-clinching interception for the Bulldogs.

“Any time you’re not playing your best and can still come away with a win, we’ll take it,” said Gravish. “We’ll learn from our mistakes tonight and move forward.”

In eight quarters this season, the Seals’ defense has allowed just 21 total points and has forced three turnovers (an interception and two fumble recoveries).

Despite picking up less total offensive yardage in the game, Selinsgrove accounted for the game’s leading passer (Mark Pastore, 76 yards), rusher (Brandon Hile, 57 yards), and receiver (Nate Aument, 56 yards).

“I told the guys afterward that I could not in a million years fault their effort tonight.” said Coach Hicks, “They were flying to the football, they were hitting when they got there, but credit to Jersey Shore. They kept grinding and we kept battling back. We’ve just got to get more consistent on offense.”

Jersey Shore failed to score double-digit points in a game for the first time since a 62-7 loss to Southern Columbia in 2018.

Selinsgrove (0-2) travels to Shamokin (1-1) next week in an attempt to pick up its first victory of the season.

Jersey Shore (2-0) attempts to remain undefeated in a tough matchup with Montoursville (2-0). The Montoursville offense has already scored 83 points in just two games this season. That game will take place in Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore 9, Selinsgrove 7

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Jersey Shore                         0  0  6  3  — 9

Selinsgrove                           0  7  0  0  — 7

Second Quarter

S—Tucker Teats 23-yard run (PAT Good), 5:26.

Third Quarter

JS—Hadyn Packer 1-yard run (PAT No Good), 8:46.

Fourth Quarter

JS—Breck Miller 22-yard field goal, 7:27.

 

TEAM STATISTICS         JS               S

First downs                             8                  9

Total yards                              121             108

Rushes-yards                         41-49          37-32

Yards passing                        72                76

Passing (comp.-att.-int.)       9-17-1        9-15-1

Fumbles-lost                           2-1              4-1

Penalties-yards                      5-55            7-56

 

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Jersey Shore: Packer 16-39, Karter Peacock 7-18, Elijah Jordan 1-2, Kooper Peacock 1-1, Cayden Hess 1-(-2), Brady Jordan 14-(-8), TEAM 1-(-1). Selinsgrove: Brandon Hile 16-57, Teats 8-13 TD, Corey Rumberger 1-2, Ethan Miller 1-0, Mark Pastore 5-(-12), TEAM 6-(-28).

PASSING—Jersey Shore: B. Jordan 9-17 72 yards, INT. Selinsgrove: Pastore 9-15 76 yards, INT.

RECEIVING—Jersey Shore: Hess 5-36, Connor Griffin 2-19, Ko. Peacock 1-13, E. Jordan 1-4. Selinsgrove: Nate Aument 6-56, Gavin Bastian 2-10, Steven Miller 1-10.

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