By Marian Valanoski
For The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP — Defense once again reared its mighty head at Kemp Memorial Stadium. And for the second straight week, Shamokin put itself in position to finish the night on a victorious note. Unfortunately for the Indians, visiting Jersey Shore had other notions for their hosts.
Utoah Agae-Naipo rushed for 203 yards and the Bulldogs’ defense was nothing short of spectacular in leading the visitors past the Indians, 33-14, to not only earn their first victory of the year Friday night, but more importantly, break a 13-game losing streak that stretched back to the 2011 campaign.
Once again, Shamokin (0-2) put itself in position to force a tie in the third quarter following Erik Taylor’s pass interception that was returned to the Jersey Shore 29. However, on a night when the team smelled victory in the air, on fourth-and-two, sophomore Ethan Kutza broke through the line and stopped quarterback Tucker Yost for no gain that ended the opportunity and prevented the Indians (0-2) from possibly forcing a deadlock and gain some much-needed momentum.
"We are still going through growing pains," Indians coach Yaacov Yisrael said. "It was another case at that time where we needed to capitalize on one of their mistakes but didn’t capitalize."
The Bulldogs capitalized on two big mistakes by the Indians that allowed them to put the contest out of reach.
Stephen Baier recovered a fumble at the Indians’ 17 where on fourth down Logan English, subbing for the injured Jordan Tawney, connected with Brody Smith for a four-yard touchdown pass. After the conversion, Jersey Shore led 20-7. Later in the period, Kutza came up with his second big defensive play when he blocked Yost’s punt and the visitors recovered the ball at the 18.
English quickly went to the air and found Smith again in the right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard TD toss and the advantage ballooned to 27-7.
The Indians did not roll over. Instead, using a bit of trickery to pull within striking distance of the lead, Yost pitched to Sean McLaughlin, who then pulled up and found Tom Campbell deep downfield for a 64-yard touchdown toss. Erik Washuta’s second PAT kick made the tally, 27-14.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed later in the final period when Agae-Naipo ran for a 14-yard touchdown and, following a second Indians fumble, the visitors were able to run out the clock.