Troy options Shore
TROY – One year ago, Jed Wright proved to be a one-man wrecking crew as he ran the option to near-perfection while racking up 161 yards on 17 carries good for a pair of touchdowns in a 26-6 Troy win over Jersey Shore at Thompson Street Stadium.
Friday night at Alporn Park, it was again Wright who had things pretty much his own way as he amassed 165 yards on 22 totes good for a pair of touchdowns to lead his team to a 35-18 win over the Bulldogs in the season opener for both clubs.
Walking off the field following the handshakes by both teams, Shore assistant coach Buddy Thomas probably summed it up best when he said, “We just didn’t do a very good job defending the option.”
With the loss, the Shore losing skid now spans 13 games, the last win coming over Selinsgrove by a 10-7 score in the 2011 season as the Seals were coming off a campaign that saw them win a state championship.
“We just didn’t play a complete football game,” said Shore head coach Tom Gravish. “We would have things going and then maybe a little slip-up on offense or defense and I think the special teams gave them a big return once. But other than that, we saw some real good things tonight in all phases of the game.”
Although disappointed that his Bulldogs didn’t come away with a win, Gravish remained upbeat as to what he saw from his troops.
“I am disappointed that we didn’t get a victory,” said Gravish, “ but the Sun is going to come up tomorrow and we (the coaches) are going to keep working hard because we believe in these kids. We wouldn’t want to be with another group because I think we have the leaders on this team to keep moving forward and come up with some wins.”
One thing Gravish and his coaches are looking for is how the Bulldogs react to adversity when they are tested by their opponent.
“We have been saying that we are going to get tested at some point in the season, whether it is by being down in the first quarter or whether it is in a loss, he said. “All great teams and even championship teams get tested at one point in their lives and I think we are being tested right now so we have to show that we can bounce back.”
The Bulldogs scored the only points of the first period when Jordan Tawney scored on a two-yard run following an interception and 34-yard return by Brody Smith. However, the Trojans would come back to score twice in the second period to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Down 14-6, Shore took over with two minutes remaining before the intermission and promptly put into high gear its version of the two-minute drill.
On the legs of Utoa Agae-Naipo and the right arm of quarterback Logan English, the Bulldogs marched 81 yards on just seven plays for a score, English finding Stephen Baier in the end zone for the touchdown.
For the game, the Bulldogs featured a pair of 100-yard rushers in Agae-Naipo who finished with an even 100, while Tawney racked up 110.
Leading by two entering the third period, the Trojans took the kickoff and went 64 yards on a dozen plays for a score to make it Troy 21, Shore 12.
But again the Bulldogs weren’t about to warm up the bus and head down Route 14 just yet as they came back on just four plays for their third touchdown of the game when Tawney ripped out of a couple of tackles for the final seven yards and the score. The big play on the march was a 52-yard jaunt down the left sideline by Agae-Naipo.
Unfortunately for Shore, following Tawney’s TD is when the Bulldog special teams experienced a hiccup as they gave the Trojans good field position near midfield. Four plays later, Troy found the end zone again for a 28-18 lead before they added another touchdown in the final period to set the final.
The Dawgs were unable to generate any scoring threat in the final dozen minutes of the game as they went three-and-out on the first of two possessions before the second drive fizzled out short of the sticks at midfield.
So what is in store for Shore between week one and week two?
“We are going to try and pick out the positives and build off of them,” Gravish said. “We are going to point out those things (positives) to the guys and we are also going to point out the things we need to work on. There were a lot of positives out there tonight, but again, we just need to play a complete game from the opening kickoff to the final minutes. We are going to continue to work hard, keep our heads up and we are going to get after it and beat a good Shamokin ball club next week.”
Now 0-1, Shore will hit the highway again next week as they truck down Route 61 to Shamokin for a battle with the Indians at Kemp Memorial Stadium.
Jersey Shore 6 6 6 0 – 18
Troy 0 14 14 7 – 35
JS – Jordan Tawney 2 run (rush failed). 6-0 (1:54)
T – Brandon Mattocks 33 run (Josh McClaren kick) (6-7)(11:23)
T – Jed Wright 4 run. (McClaren kick)(6-14) (2:00)
JS – Stephen Baier 12 pass from Logan English (pass failed). (12-14)(:33)
T – Curtis Jones 12 run (McClaren kick)(12-21)(6:46)
JS – Tawney 7 run (pass failed). (18-21)(5:24)
T – Wright 44 run (McClaren kick)(18-28)(3:56)
T – Jones 8 run (McClaren kick). (18-35)(5:02)
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