Kelley’s 5-TD night sends Dallas to State Finals
DANVILLE – It was a great night to be a Dallas running back Friday night in Danville, primarily starting running back Lenny Kelley, who posted a five-score performance to help his undefeated District 2 Class 4A champion Dallas Mountaineers earn a 56-28 victory over District 4 class 4A champion Jersey Shore to advance to the state title game in Hershey.
The win improved Dallas to a perfect 15-0 on the season. The last time the Mountaineers were undefeated this late in the season, the team won a state title in 1993.
“These are great young men, and this is a great year for Dallas,” said Dallas coach Rich Mannello. “This is the time of year where the work put in in the weight room and conditioning take over, and you saw that tonight.”
The game got off to an inauspicious start for both teams, as the first three drives of the game resulted in three turnovers. Dallas turned the ball over on the first two offensive snaps of the game.
“Nobody got rattled,” said Mannello. “If you looked at the sideline, we just went out and played defense and continued to do out thing. Eventually we were able to take over.”
Dallas won the coin toss and elected to receive. On play number one, Kelley ran to the right side, but lost control of the ball shortly after crossing the line of scrimmage. The fumble recovery put Jersey Shore in great position to score the game’s opening points.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, quarterback Tanner Lorson threw an interception on the third play of the drive to give the ball right back to Dallas.
Once again on the first play of the drive, Dallas turned the ball over again. After a completed pass down the field for a gain of 18 yards, a Dallas wide receiver fumbled the football and gave possession right back to the Bulldogs.
The turnover was the third of the game, which all happened in the game’s first three minutes.
“That’s not what you want to happen,” said Kelley. “Fumbling the first two times we touch the ball is ot what we wanted, but we didn’t think about that. We decided to keep moving forward and we got the job done.”
This time Jersey Shore took advantage. The Bulldogs marched a short 44 yards in just five plays to earn the game’s opening score. Running back Josh Malicky ran the ball up the gut, scoring on a second-and-one play from the Dallas 10-yard line.
This would be the only time Jersey Shore held the lead in the ballgame, and it didn’t last long.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas finally hit its stride on offense. Dallas drove the ball 62 yards on just a pair of big plays. A fullback dive resulted in a 15-yard gain up the middle for Danny Meuser and then on the next play, Dallas quarterback Michael Starbuck hit wideout Luke Delgaudio for a 44-yard catch and run to even the score.
Dallas stopped Shore on a short possession and got the ball back with 7:32 remaining in the opening quarter. Once again the Mountaineers moved the ball flawlessly down the field to take their first lead.
This time Meuser got the score after catching a ball in the flat and turning it upfield for a 19-yard catch and run for a score.
After finding themselves in a 21-point hole in the first quarter last week, it was obvious the Bulldogs were not going to give up, especially this early. The team regained possession of the ball and marched right back down the field to knot the game back up at 14-all.
Dallas struggled to stop the quick up-tempo pace of the Jersey Shore offense, which drove the ball 79 yards on eight plays, eventually scoring on a Cayden Hess reception. One of his two receiving touchdowns on the night.
“We know eventually the weight room is going to take over,” said Mannello. “The pace of play and how (Jersey Shore) runs that offense is so fast. All of our guys play both ways and we’re in great shape.”
From here on out it became the Kelley show. On Dallas’ next five possessions of the game, four ended in Kelley touchdowns. Some from long-distance, and some from up close.
Kelley scored on touchdown runs of 12, 42, 2, 19 and 78 yards on the night, He carried the ball 26 times for 268 yards.
“I felt a lot faster tonight,” said Kelley. “I think it was (quarterback, Michael) Starbuck. He let me use his gloves this week. I think it had something to do with that.”
Kelley also commented on how great the Dallas offensive line played in the contest.
“The holes were amazing tonight,” he said. “We got lucky a couple of times, but other that that, the holes were humongous.”
Jersey Shore flashed some signs that the team could be staying in the game, but those signs quickly faded when the defensive unit struggled to contain Kelley and the rest of the Dallas offense.
Down 35-14 at the half, Jersey Shore opened the third quarter with the ball and marched right down the field. Shore pieced together a 10-play, 63-yard drive to get back within two scores, but Kelley and the Mountaineers took right back over and drove down to tack on a score themselves.
“It’s been fun,” said Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish of his 2019 squad. “It was a thrill to get here. Every day was a blast. This team’s personality was great. It was such an enjoyable season.”
Jersey Shore finishes its greatest season in school history with an overall record of 11-4.
In the game, Tanner Lorson tossed his 33rd touchdown pass of the season, which tied a school record. Lorson broke 10 school passing records this season for the Bulldogs.
Dallas takes its undefeated record into the state finals against Thomas Jefferson, 44-2 winners over Lampeter-Strasburg.
“We’ve got the best school in the state and these kids deserve every bit of this,” said Mannello. “What you don’t see is what these kids put in for four years when nobody is watching to get to this point.”
Dallas 56, Jersey Shore 28
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Dallas 14 21 14 7 — 56
Jersey Shore 14 0 7 7 — 28
JS—Josh Malicky 10-yard run (Cam Allison PAT Good), 9:58.
D—Luke Delgaudio 44-yard reception from Michael Starbuck (Ryan Fisher PAT Good), 9:06
D—Danny Meuser 19-yard reception from Starbuck (Fisher PAT Good), 4:35
JS—Cayden Hess 8-yard reception from Tanner Lorson (Allison PAT Good), 2:26
D—Lenny Kelley 12-yard run (Fisher PAT Good), 11:25.
D—Kelley 42-yard run (Fisher PAT Good), 6:31.
D—Kelley 2-yard run (Fisher PAT Good), 0:48
JS—Hess 9-yard reception from Lorson (Allison PAT Good), 9:39
D—Kelley 19-yard run (Fisher PAT Good), 6:12
D—Kelley 78-yard run (Fisher PAT Good), 0:34
D—Meuser 5-yard reception from Starbuck (Fisher PAT Good), 11:56
JS—Lorson 12-yard run (Allison PAT Good), 5:23
TEAM STATISTICS D JS
First downs 13 22
Total yards 484 434
Rushes-yards 43-298 21-76
Yards passing 186 358
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 11-17-0 35-61-3
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 2-20 6-60
RUSHING—Jersey Shore: Malicky 11-47 TD, Lorson 10-29 TD. Dallas: Kelley 28-268 5TD, Meuser 6-30, Starbuck 2-5, Jacob Fenske 1-3, Jake Delgaudio 5-(-3), Jackson Wydra 1-(-4), TEAM 1-(-1).
PASSING—Jersey Shore: Lorson 35-61 358 yds, 2TD, 3INT. Dallas: Starbuck 11-17 186 yds, 3TD.
RECEIVING—Jersey Shore: Hess 8-108 2TD, Stanton Westlin 7-80, Owen Anderson 7-76, Anthony Shaffer 9-70, Brett Guthrie 2-14, Malicky 2-10. Dallas: L. Delguadio 5-117 TD, Meuser 5-57 2TD, Jack Farrell 1-12.
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