Troy wins over Jersey Shore
JERSEY SHORE — Special teams play can be very important in the outcome of a lot of football games and in Friday night’s opener between Troy and Jersey Shore, that fact was quite apparent.
Special team play was quite special to Troy from the outset of the game as the Trojans took advantage of a couple of good kicks and a solid return to set themselves up with good field position that resulted in a couple of first-quarter scores.
Leading 14-0 after one period, the Trojans outscored the Bulldogs 12-6 the rest of the way to walk off the field with a 26-6 victory in the opening game of the 2012 season for both teams.
“I thought the kids executed very well and I am very proud of them for their effort tonight,” said Troy head coach James Smith. “We didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, but we have to get better. I don’t think we are in shape yet so we have to work on our conditioning and try to get better for next week.”
As for the final outcome, Shore head coach Tom Gravish felt it was a situation of missed opportunities by his club and a more consistent effort by Troy that led to the defeat.
“I thought Troy played a more consistent game than we did in all three phases,” said Gravish. “We tried to do some things in all three phases of the game to put ourselves in a good position, but it wasn’t enough.”
Following a short Shore punt and a nice return, the Trojans set up shop at the Bulldog 28. From there, Troy quarterback Jed Wright picked up one on first down before scampering untouched for the final 27 yards and the touchdown on the next play.
“That punt return really hurt us,” said Gravish. “We tried to emphasize to our guys that special teams are as important to a game as anything, especially in high school football and even more in the home opener. That first punt return set them up in a nice position because when it is your first possession and you have the ball at about the (opponent’s) 30-yard line, you can relax a little bit.”
Following the Wright score, Josh Macclaren tacked on the PAT and two minutes into the game, the Trojans led for good at 7-0.
Later in the opening period, the Trojans again had a good return of a Shore punt to the Bulldog 25, and this time, it only took them three plays to hit paydirt, Isaac Havens scoring from ten yards out. Macclaren made it 14-0 Troy with 1:42 still left in the first period.
With the Shore offense continuing to sputter, the Trojans opened the second period by driving from their own 15 to the Bulldog 5-yard line before the drive stalled. From there, Macclaren kicked his first of two field goals of the game, a 22-yard effort to push the Troy lead to 17-0.
Down by the 17 points, the Bulldogs tried to battle their way back into the game and they also used the special team approach to getting the job done.
Boone Costa set the Orange & Black up with a neat kickoff return as he swerved and juked his way downfield for 66 yards to the Troy 30-yard stripe. After a Shore pass fell incomplete, Utoah Agae-Naipo found the end zone when he ripped off a nifty run off the right side of his offensive line for the final 30 yards and the score.
“We had a couple nice runs by Utoah and Boone, but in the end, the difference was that they made more plays defensively against us than we did against them,” said Gravish. “We just gave them too many big plays.”
The kick for the PAT failed, but with 6:19 still left in the second quarter, the Shoremen had cut Troy’s lead to 17-6.
Controlling the ball and the clock, Troy once again put together a nice drive that began on their own 20 before stalling inside the red zone at the Bulldog nine. From there, Macclaren drilled his second field goal of the game, a 25-yard effort to give the Trojans a 20-6 lead at halftime.
“We are blessed to have the kicker we have,” said Smith about Macclaren. “He works very hard at it and he is a good one. Hopefully it will turn out to be an advantage we have all year.”
Following the intermission, neither team was able to generate much of a consistent offensive effort as Troy scored the only points of the second half when Wright sneaked in from one yard midway through the third period.
During the third quarter, Shore had an opportunity get away from them when they apparently had good field position with a stop of the Trojans. However, a Bulldog lineman was detected for a personal foul infraction on the punt, and the ball was turned back to Troy and they took advantage of the situation to score their final six-pointer of the game.
“Special teams hurt us as well as helped us tonight,” Gravish said. “The defense made a nice play right before the half to set us up, but we just couldn’t get the ball in there. We aren’t going to quit on these kids. This is a young group, we really like the group, we had three freshmen out there playing tonight and we aren’t about to give up on them.”
Wright led the Troy ground attack as the diminutive, but shifty quarterback carried the ball 14 times for 138 yards and the TD. Complementing Wright’s effort was Corey Ellsworth who picked up 68 yards on just eight tries.
“Give their quarterback a lot of credit because he along with the fullback (Corey Ellsworth) played real good football,” said Gravish. “They were just a lot more consistent than we were and they didn’t make the crucial mistakes we made.”
In addition to Wright and Ellsworth, the Trojans utilized no less than nine running backs as they racked up a total of 342 yards rushing.
“We are really young and we don’t have really that one kid who is able to carry the ball 30 times a game,” said Smith. “We have the smaller, faster kids in our backfield and a lot of them are still in tenth grade so that is why we sort of go by committee as far as who is going to carry the ball.”
In addition to some shoddy tackling, the Bulldogs further hurt themselves by dropping a few passes to wide open receivers.
“We dropped a few passes that hurt us and we also had guys wide open, but the passes were batted up in the air on the release of the ball at the line of scrimmage,” said Gravish. “Those are just some of the things we have to work on. We wanted to run the ball a little more than we did, but we got thrown into a little different kind of game with the way it started.”
Offensively for Shore, Agae-Naipo led the way with 116 yards and the one score on 13 carries, Costa showing 49 yards on just three tries. After completing seven of his first nine passes, Bulldog quarterback Logan English finished with a 7-for-22 effort good for 94 yards. Stephen Bair led the Shore receivers with three catches good for 60 yards, Derek Leese chipping in with four grabs for 39 yards.
Now 0-1, the Bulldogs remain home next Friday when they host Shamokin in a 7 p.m. start, while Troy returns home to host Wellsboro Friday night, that game also slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Troy 14 6 6 0 — 26
Jersey Shore 0 6 0 0 — 6
T — Jed Wright 27 run (Josh Maclauren kick) 10:00, 7-0
T — Isaac Havens 10 run (Maclauren kick), 1:42 (14-0)
T — Maclauren 22 FG. 6:41 (17-0)
JS — Utoah Agae-Naipo 30 run (kick failed), 6:19, (17-6)
T — Maclauren 25 FG. (1:59. (20-6)
T — Wright 1 run. 6:56, (26-6)
Team Statistics T JS
First Downs 17 11
Rushes-Yards 54-342 29-158
Passing Yards 3 124
Passing 1-3-1 10-29-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-15 2-25
Troy: Jed Wright 14-138, 2 TDs; Corey Ellsworth 8-63, Justin Bradley 7-34, Walker West 6-29, Isaac Havens 6-28, 1 TD; Nick Stephani 4-24, Josh Macclaren 7-23, Jonathan Sherman 1-3.
Shore: Utoah Agae-Naipo 13-116, 1 TD; Boone Costa 3-49, Jordan Tawney 4-8, Troy Rowan 1-8, Logan English 8-minus 23.
Troy: Wright, 1-3, 3 yards, 1 interception.
Shore: Logan English 8-22, 94 yards; Boone Costa 1-1, 25 yards; Jordan Tawney 1-3, 5 yards, Troy Rowan 0-3.
Troy: Isaac Havens 1-3.
Shore: Stephan Bair 3-60, Derek Leese 4-39, Jeff Dincher 3-25.
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