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Written by: Chris Masse sungazette.com/ on Saturday, October 13th, 2018
JERSEY SHORE — Tanner Lorson rolled right and saw white jerseys blanketing all his receivers as a 300-pound defender furiously pursued him. At the last second, Dawson Sechrist popped open and Lorson flipped him the ball. Sechrist caught it, plowed over two defenders and scored an 11-yard touchdown.
If ever there was a play that epitomized Jersey Shore football, that was it. The Bulldogs have built a winning tradition upon never quitting, being resilient, getting creative and finding success where others might not. This is Jersey Shore football and this is why it has a shot at winning another championship.
Sechrist ran for a career-high 189 yards, the offensive line dominated the fourth quarter, the defense shined over the final three quarters and Jersey Shore overcame a 10-point second-quarter deficit Friday at Thompson Street Stadium as it defeated Lewisburg, 25-17. The Bulldogs (4-4, 3-1) gave up a lot of size last night, but nothing else as they moved within a victory in their season finale against Central Mountain of winning no worse than a share of the HAC-I championship.
“Everyone on this team just will never give up. We know every game we have a chance to win,” two-way starter Hunter O’Connor said after breaking the program career tackle record. “If we’re only down 10 points we’re going to battle back no matter what.”
“We just had to keep grinding,” Sechrist said. “We practice hard for games and nights like this.”
Jersey Shore has won three of its last four games and has come from behind in three of its four wins. It also has beaten three of District 4’s best Class AAA teams and never flinched when Lewisburg dominated the first quarter. Max Moyers (175 yards, two touchdowns) scored on a 32-yard run early and Lewisburg took a 10-0 lead while outgaining the Bulldogs, 144-14. It could have been worse, but Jersey Shore forced four first-half turnovers and lineman Lee Springman intercepted his first pass after catching a deflection resulting from a punishing hit.
Sechrist busted a 28-yard run following that interception, setting up Josh Malicky for a 2-yard touchdown. A series later, Cameron Griffin capped a short Jersey Shore drive that resulted from another Lewisburg turnover. Just like that, a game Lewisburg so thoroughly controlled for 12 minutes was tied 10-10. It was a frustrating turn of events for Lewisburg, but one that also spoke to how Jersey Shore has won three district and league championships since 2013.
“We did it to ourselves in the first half,” Lewisburg coach Marc Persing said. “We jumped on them early and had a chance to bury them and we kept giving them the ball back.”
“We recognize that teams like Lewisburg and Montoursville and everyone we play are going to make plays against us and it’s how you react that makes the difference,” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “We focus on the next play mentality and they didn’t shy away. It would have been real easy down 10-0 to hang the heads and maybe give another one up and then you’re really in trouble. We just kept trying to plug away.”
Lewisburg opened the second half the way it started the game. Showcasing good balance, the Dragons went 83 yards in nine plays with Moyers showing excellent patience and burst on a 34-yard touchdown run. It was his 21st rushing score of the year and gave Lewisburg a 17-10 lead.
That advantage was short-lived. Just two plays later, Sechrist made the biggest play of his scholastic career, breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage and going 76 yards for a touchdown. The junior fullback was especially outstanding when the Bulldogs ran the fullback trap and he was at his best on this run, displaying his power and speed. Sechrist bulled over defenders throughout the game and was able to outrun four players over the last 40 yards to complete the scoring play. Koby Peacock then controlled a low snap and found Malicky for a 2-point conversion that gave Jersey Shore a lead it never relinquished.
“I got away from a couple defenders and I just tried going all the way with it. I was getting tired and winded but I was able to get in there,” Sechrist said. “They run us hard at practice and condition us well. I don’t like it a lot when it’s going on but I love it on nights like this. This is when it all pays off.”
Sechrist was quick to praise an offensive line that played its best collective way, paving the way for a season-high 314 rushing yards. O’Connor, David Tomb, Howard Fausey, Ben Webb and Anthony Darby grew stronger as the game progressed and were at their best in the fourth quarter. A tenacious defense which handled one of the area’s strongest offensive lines, made another timely stop and forced a turnover on downs at the 18-yard line on the ensuing series. The offensive line then took over and ignited a 13-play, 82-yard scoring drive.
Quarterback Tanner Lorson did not have his best statistical game, but repeatedly made big third-down plays on every Jersey Shore scoring march. His most clutch throw came on a 3rd-and-23 when he lofted a perfect 25-yard strike to Stanton Westlin. Two plays later, Lorson avoided the sack and made a fantastic improvisational play, locating Sechrist right before going down. Sechrist caught it at the 5, ran over two defenders and scored his second touchdown, making it 25-17.
The Bulldog defense did a marvelous job adjusting after Lewisburg’s early barrage, surrendering just seven first downs and seven points over the last three quarters. It forced a three-and-out on Lewisburg’s ensuing series and Jersey Shore took over with 6 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.
And the Bulldogs never gave the ball back. The line grew overpowering and Sechrist, Kyle Tomb (53 yards) and Malicky ran hard as Jersey Shore churned out yards and burned the clock. Lorson and Westlin also delivered again on third down and their 10-yard connection on 3rd-and-7 clinched the big win.
“They had some big guys on the defensive line but we were wearing them down and we just kept going,” O’Connor said. “It was consistency and all the conditioning we do at practice helping out. It doesn’t get much better than this. A close game on Homecoming night … I love it.”
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