By Bill Albright
For The Daily Item
JERSEY SHORE — For Jersey Shore, the beat goes on.
After splitting its first four games, the Bulldogs have now dropped their last four in a row, including a 14-6 setback at the hands of Selinsgrove on Friday night at Thompson Street Stadium.
“It got a little crazy there at the end,” said Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess. “Our kids kept their heads up and they kept plugging away. Our defense was outstanding and the offense moved the ball and scored points when they had to. Our defense came big time after time and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Much like the end of last week’s game with Shikellamy, Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish felt his team just ran out of time and opportunities.
“Gravish said, “Everybody on our team grabbed hold of the rope and pulled in a positive direction. They gave it their best effort and worked as good teammates, but they just came up short. They played really hard.”
After the two teams combined for eight punts to begin the game, the Bulldogs took over at midfield.
On the seventh play of the possession, Utoa Agae-Naipo ripped his way through the Seal defense for the final 16 yards and the score. Logan English’s conversion attempt was no good, but with 9:48 left in the second period, Shore held a 6-0 lead, an advantage they took to the halftime locker room.
Held to a net of just 17 yards in the first half, Selinsgrove exploded for 171 in the second half. Carrying the big load for the Seals was Conner Liesenfeld as the fullback rumbled for a game total of 174 yards while scoring both Selinsgrove touchdowns.
“Liesenfeld ran for a bunch of yards tonight from his fullback position and that really opened up things for us,” Hess said.
Liesenfeld carried the ball all six times on the first Seal TD drive that covered 66 yards. Joe Radal’s conversion gave Selinsgrove a 7-6 lead with 4:32 left in the third period.
“We just kept running our fullback belly (play),” Hess said. “They were really taking things away from us on the outside. Every time we would run stretch or toss to the outside we saw they were emptying the defensive backfield. Their backers were flying and over-running everything so we just kept running the fullback belly play, looking for the cutback. We just kept getting it so we didn’t go away from it.”
With two games left and now standing at 4-4, the win was huge for the Seals.
“Number one, the win was big for us because we were able to get a win and stop a four-game slide,” Hess said. “We had some pretty good competition in those four games, but the biggest thing now is that we are in a position where we can get to the playoffs with home field advantage also a possibility. It was just big for us in a lot of respects.”
Trailing 7-6, Shore had an excellent opportunity to score the stretch, but a long run of more than 40 yards by Agae-Naipo that carried to the Selinsgrove 10-yard line was brought back by a penalty.
“We had a couple of things happen to us at inopportune times with a penalty here or a penalty there after a nice run,” Gravish said. “We win as a team and we lose as a team. But we are going to keep battling and remain positive, keep plugging away. We reminded (our players) that the sun is still going to come up in the morning and you could see the determination in their faces to play some good football before the season is over.”
At times during the game, it seemed more like a Flag Day scrimmage than a football game as the two teams drew a total of 19 penalties for 170 yards with each team having one player ejected from the contest.
Already on top by a point, the Seals gave themselves a little breathing room with 1:34 left in the game when Liesenfeld scored his second touchdown.
Still trailing by eight points, Shore had one last-gasp hope of tying the game to send it to overtime, but the Bulldog drive ran out of downs at the Selinsgrove 22-yard line as time expired.