HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Shamokin falls to Jersey Shore
COAL TOWNSHIP - Utoah Agae-Naipo rushed for 203 yards and the Jersey Shore defense was nothing short of spectacular in a 33-14 Heartland Conference I victory over Shamokin Area Friday night at Kemp Memorial Stadium.
Shamokin Area (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 fourth-and-two, sophomore Ethan Kutza broke through the line and stopped quarterback Tucker Yost for no gain, ending that opportunity and preventing the Indians (0-2) from possibly forcing a deadlock and gaining some much-needed momentum.
"We are still going through growing pains," Indians' head 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. Then, on fourth down, Logan English, subbing for the injured Jordan Tawney, connected with Brody Smith for a four-yard touchdown pass, and 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 used a bit of trickery to pull within striking distance of the lead. Yost pitched to Sean McLaughlin, who pulled up and found Tom Campbell deep down the field for a 64-yard touchdown toss. Erik Washuta's second PAT kick made the tally 27-14.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed in the later in the final period when Agae-Naipo ran for a 14-yard touchdown. Then, following a second Indians' fumble, the visitors were able to run out the clock.
"We knew coming down here that Shamokin was not going to be a pushover," Jersey Shore head coach Tom Gravish said. "All week long we emphasized all those losses were in the past and to concentrate on 2013.
"Our defense was outstanding and to shut down their offense like that is a credit to these players who did not give up."
The Bulldogs grabbed a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Derek Leese latched onto an 18-yard scoring strike from English, and after a short punt gave the visitors the ball on the home team 10, Agae-Naipo capped a three-yard drive with just three seconds remaining in the half with a one-yard touchdown plunge.
"Jersey Shore's senior leadership was very evident in the game," Yisrael said. "You have to remember there are 4-5 players out there being counted on and they are in this position for the first time."
The Bulldogs held the Indians to just 49 yards on 25 carries and forced two fumbles and an interception while their own offense accounted for 263 yards on the ground and 114 through the air.
Draven Miller, who had a spectacular 67-yard run to set up the second Shamokin Area score, led the team with 82 yards n the ground and McLaughlin continued his ability to latch onto passes wit eight receptions for 83.
Jersey Shore 7 7 13 6 - 33
Shamokin 0 0 7 7 - 14