Trojans advance to face Bethlehem Catholic
Experience over the years has told me that the weather way up on the mountain where Williamsport High School and STA Stadium are located can be tricky at times, leading to interesting gametime experiences. Little did I know, (well, I may have had a slight idea thanks to our official weather sponsor, Pennsylvania Weather Action) that an extreme cold front would come through at halftime changing the temperature from a balmy start of 64 degrees at the kickoff, to an ice cold, windy 29 degrees by games end. Not only did the weather change at halftime, so did the complextion of the game between Greater Johnstown and Jersey Shore.
The Trojans started this game with a bang. Bryce Gibson took the opening kick at the 32 and left the other 21 guys on the field in his tracks. The 68 yard kick return plus pst gave the Trojans a very fast 7-0 lead. The Bulldogs offense went nowhere on their first try and they were forced to punt. Gibson and quarterback Austin Barber took turns carrying the ball for short gains, and it looked as though Jersey Shore had a defensive plan to stop the Trojans D1 athletes. That only lasted until Barber found Ru’Shaud Jordan-Maines for a 32 yard td pass. Just under 4 minutes into the game the Trojans were enjoying the heat and score of 14-0.
The Bulldogs bit back on their next drive. Starting at the 40, QB Elijah Shemory connected on a 27 yard pass to the 13. 3 plays later Kyle Tomb plunged in from the 1 to make it 14-7 with 2:16 left in the first quarter. Neither team managed much on their next drives, but when Johnstown got the ball at their 26, they figured out how to make their offense go. Six different Trojans handled the ball on a drive that was also aided by a pass interference penalty. The last Trojan to touch the ball was Maines, his second td of the night, a 20 yard pass from Barber.
It wasn’t long before Gibson hauled in his second td, a 12 yard pass that made it 29 -7 following a 2 point conversion, with 1:40 left in the half. The Trojans were in command and had the Bulldogs sweating the heat of the end of their season.
Then someone hit the switch. The wind picked up, papers in the press box flew everywhere. Someone to my right, a Johnstown area radio station personality, noted it looked like it was snowing leaves. The flags never moved, they seemed frozen at full gust from south to north. Shemory came out on the field looking like old man winter. His team had the ball at the 46 because the wind didn’t allow GJSD a long kick, and he led his apparently cold weather team from the north on a fast, 8 play td drive that ended on a spectacular 12 yard grab in the back of the endzone by Titus. The pat made it 29-14 with just 2 minutes off the clock.
Exree Loe gave a quick answer for the Trojans, taking a screen pass 74 yards to put the Trojans back up by 3 scores. Once again, Shemory showed the ice in his veins. After exchanging possessions, the Junior signal caller scrambled to his right, tossed a short rainbow to Austin Breon and he was off to the races thanks to a great block downfield by Titus. 92 yards. The Bulldogs went for 2 but that failed, leaving the score now at 36-20. “I’m not getting a good feeling about this game” said that personality next to me. “It reminds me of….”something about another game years ago.
Things just kept getting worse for the Trojans as on a pass to Exree Loe, the D1 WVU bound recruit was blasted at the line of scrimmage, the 20. Hunter Oconnor recovered the ball and landed on the Trojan 3. Titus hauled in another score to make it now 36-26 with 3:10 left in the game.
Bryce Gibson warmed the feelings of my friend on the radio, scoring on a 2 yard run to make it 42-26, but there was still 9:29 remaining in the game. So what does a team do when down 20, facing the wind…If you’re Bulldog head coach Tom Gravish, “We had no choice, we were down”. So once again, Shermony was asked to throw the ball on this now cold and blustery field. No problem, Titus was wide open so he hit him for a 52 yard td. 42-32.
The Bulldogs got the ball back on an interception, and made it to the 47 but when Darrian Berkins got his third sack of the day, the snow melted and Johnstown was celebrating their State Playoff win, the 12-1 record bringing them the most wins in a season ever.
Shemory finished the game with 354 yards and 3 touchdowns. His counterpart, Barber, was 14-19 for 285 yards and 4 scores.
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