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Bulldogs erase 21-point deficit to win in 3 OTs @tannerlorson @PAHSathletics

Written by: on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

 

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Jersey Shore’s Stanton Westlin (81) hauls in a pass over Pottsville’s Mason Barnes for a touchdown (15) with less than a minute left to tie the game in Friday’s PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal at Danville. The Bulldogs won, 42-35, in triple overtime.

DANVILLE — Brett Guthrie read the quarterback’s eyes, broke left and dove. He corralled the ball inches from the ground and then….and then? Well, Guthrie does not remember much after that.

But as the years go by, he, his teammates and all those who watched Friday’s breathtaking Class AAAA state quarterfinal will remember that moment.

Guthrie clinched the biggest win in Jersey Shore history Friday at Danville, intercepting Damon Yost as the Bulldogs erased a 21-point first-quarter deficit and beat Pottsville, 42-35, in triple overtime in one of the greatest area games ever played. Tanner Lorson threw three overtime touchdowns, Cayden Hess caught two and Dawson Sechrist sparked a ferocious defense after the first quarter as the Bulldogs kept their dream season going another week.

Jersey Shore once might have thought that the state semifinals only included other teams. But they do exist. And Jersey Shore, your Bulldogs are playing in them. Jersey Shore (11-3) won its seventh straight game and earned a spot in next weekend’s Eastern Region final against District 2 champion Dallas.

“It kind of took me a few seconds to realize, wow, we won that game,” Guthrie said. “I will never forget this moment. It’s just unexplainable. The feelings I have right now are indescribable. I’m so proud of everyone on this team. The work everyone on this team has put in is amazing. It’s an all-around team effort. I love these guys to death.”

The community feels the same way about its Bulldogs as they yelled themselves hoarse throughout the surrounded jubilant players who won the kind of games that defies odds and that they have always dreamed of playing in.

It took every player going all-out on every play. There was no margin for error after going down 21-0 late in the first quarter. Time after time, Jersey Shore faced plays late in the game that if they did not make, the season was over. Time after time different players made those plays and owned the biggest moments.

“We put a pounding on them. We were getting them tired and we just had to keep going strong,” Hess said after catching nine passes for 98 yards. “We’re a family and we came through together.”

“We’re fighters. That’s the craziest game I have ever played in and biggest win for our school by far,” Lorson said after throwing for 279 yards and five touchdowns, while also running for a score. “Hats off to them. They played a great game. We played a great game and it’s an awesome feeling to win it.”

How Jersey Shore won exemplifies everything this team and program represents.

Sechrist (15 tackles, 2 sacks) stoned fullback Joey Ferraro on third-and-1 with less than three minutes remaining, giving Jersey Shore one last shot at scoring a game-tying touchdown. The Bulldogs then moved 55 yards in seven plays, scoring that elusive touchdown when Lorson found Stanton Westlin for a 26-yard touchdown with 54.2 seconds remaining. Westlin (7 catches, 82 yards) exploded off the line, gained a step on his defender and made a nice catch with the cornerback draped on him, Lorson putting the ball only where his 1,000-yard receiver could catch it.

The overtimes then became like a classic Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight with both district champions exchanging haymakers. Hess made a ridiculously sensational 26-yard touchdown catch down the left sideline on third-and-goal, giving Jersey Shore its first lead, 28-21, only to watch Pottsville tie it on the next play.

Pottsville struck first in the second overtime, but Lorson and Hess again worked their magic on a third-and-10. Lorson was hurried, but threw a fastball while going back and Hess made a highlight-reel grab with tight coverage on him, keeping possession of a juggling ball and staying in bounds.

The Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-goal on the 5-yard line a series later when Lorson rolled left. He sucked in the defensive back and Guthrie faded deeper into the end zone, corralling his first catch and what became the game-winning touchdown.

Pottsville had another chance, but Guthrie saved a touchdown with a terrific play on a second-and-goal from the 10. A play later it was delirium as Guthrie intercepted his second pass and set off a celebration more than 100 years in the making.

“We were tired, but we just kept going and playing hard one overtime after the other,” Sechrist said. “It’s by far the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of. We just kept battling and we finally did it.”

“All the credit goes to the kids. They did this,” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “Our kids just believe in each other. We have 11 Bulldogs on the field at one time playing with one heartbeat. We had to adapt, adjust and overcome. Our kids are just a bunch of battlers.”

Jersey Shore had to summon all that fight, all its talent and all its resourcefulness after Pottsville scored on its first three possessions, forced two turnovers and took a 21-0 lead with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter. The Crimson Tide outgained Jersey Shore, 137-11, in that first quarter but what looked like it might be a mercy-rule game started becoming the most memorable contest in program history.

Pottsville went for the kill early in the second quarter, facing a fourth-and-17 from the Bulldog 37, the Tide went for it instead of punting and pinning Jersey Shore deep. The Bulldogs held and all the pieces of a rapid-fire no-huddle offense that would make Chip Kelly blush started firing together. Lorson completed 10 straight passes on consecutive drives and his 8-yard touchdown run and Owen Anderson’s 8-yard score in which he broke a tackle and dove across the goal line made it 21-14 by halftime.

Jersey Shore had taken Pottsville’s best shot and the defense settled in, shutting down all aspects of an offense that overpowered Allentown Central Catholic six nights earlier. Pottsville managed just 102 yards after the first quarter and Jersey Shore collected five sacks. Sechrist was a force, Karter Peacock and Ryan Kershner excelled up front and cornerbacks Guthrie and Anthony Shaffer started locking down receivers, giving the offense opportunities to complete this stunning comeback.

“We knew we could play with these guys. The first quarter was not us. We knew it wasn’t us,” Guthrie said. “We went into the second quarter with the mindset that we can compete and we have to compete or we’re not going to win this game. We knew what was on the line.”

That repeatedly was shown through big hits, fabulous plays and relentless effort. Running back Josh Malicky twice broke off big plays in which he was stopped at the line of scrimmage before bouncing off bigger defenders like a pinball.

Jersey Shore 42,

Pottsville 35 (3 OT)

Pottsville 21 0 0 0 7 7 0–35

Jersey Shore 0 14 0 7 7 7 7–42

First quarter

P-Kevin Schenk 11 pass from Damon Yost (Raeff Dicello kick), 7:58

P-Bobby Walchak 2 run (Dicello kick), 4:13

P-Yost 28 run (Dicello kick), :51.1

Second quarter

J-Tanner Lorson 10 run (Cam Allison kick), 5:47

J-Owen Anderson 8 pass from Lorson (Allison kick), 1:54

Fourth quarter

J-Stanton Westlin 26 pass from Lorson (Allison kick), :54.2

Overtime

J-Cayden Hess 26 pass from Lorson (Allison kick)

P-Mason Barnes 10 pass from Yost (Dicello kick)

Second overtime

P-Addison Mullins 4 pass from Yost (Dicello kick)

J-Hess 10 pass from Lorson (Allison kick)

Third overtime

J-Brett Guthrie 5 pass from Lorson (Allison kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

P JS

First downs 15 15

Rushes-yds 49-97 32-60

Pass yards 142 279

Total yards 239 339

C-A-I 16-31-2 24-43-1

Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-1

Penalties-yards 2-20 6-50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Pottsville, Kevin Dicello 22-62; Bobby Walchak 3-10, TD; Damon Yost 11-9, TD; Addison Mullins 1-8; Mason Barnes 2-5; Joey Ferraro 2-2; Kevin Schenk 1-1. Jersey Shore, Josh Malicky 16-67; Lorson 15-(-2), TD; Team 1-(5).

PASSING: Pottsville, Yost 16-30-2, 3 TD; 142 yards; Mason Barnes 0-1-0. Jersey Shore, Lorson 26-43-1, 5 TD,

RECEIVING: Pottsville, Mullins 7-61, TD; Kevin Schenk 3-32, TD; Mason Barnes 3-25, TD; Daulton Mapes 2-14; Joey Ferraro 1-10. Jersey Shore, Cayden Hess 9-98, 2 TD; Stanton Westlin 7-82, TD; Owen Anderson 5-33, TD; Anthony Shaffer 2-43; Malicky 2-18; Brett Guthrie 1-5, TD.

INTERCEPTIONS: Pottsville Eric Kriner. Jersey Shore, Guthrie (2).

RECORDS: Jersey Shore (11-3), Pottsville (10-3).

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