TROY - One year ago, Jed Wright proved to be one-man wrecking crew as he ran the option to near-perfection while racking up 161 yards on 17 carries good for a pair of touchdowns in a 26-6 Troy win over Jersey Shore at Thompson Street Stadium.
Friday night at Alporn Park, it was again Wright who had things pretty much his own way while leading his Trojans to a 35-18 win over Shore in the opening game for both teams.
Jersey Shore's losing skid reached 13 games, with its last victory coming in 2011 vs. Selinsgrove.
"We just didn't play a complete football game," said Shore head coach Tom Gravish. "We would have things going and then maybe a little slip-up on offense or defense and I think the special teams gave them a big return once. But despite that, we saw some real good things in all phases of the game."
Obviously disappointed that his Bulldogs didn't come away with a win, Gravish was upbeat from what he saw from his troops.
"I am disappointed that we didn't get a victory," said Gravish, "but the sun is going to come up tomorrow and we (the coaches) are going to keep working hard because we believe in these kids. We wouldn't want to be with another group because I think we have the leaders to keep moving forward and come up with some wins."
One thing Gravish and his coaches are looking for is how the Bulldogs react to adversity when they are tested by their opponent.
"We have been saying that we are going to get tested in some point in the season, whether it is by being down in the first quarter or whether it is in a loss, he said. "All great teams and championship teams get tested at one point in their lives and I think we are being tested right now so we have to show that we can bounce back."
The Bulldogs scored the only points of the first period when Jordan Tawney scored on a two-yard run following an interception and 34-yard return by Brody Smith, but the Trojans would come back to score twice in the second period to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Down 14-6, Shore took over with two minutes remaining before the intermission and promptly put into high gear its version of the two-minute drill.
On the legs of Utoa Agae-Naipo and the right arm of quarterback Logan English, the Bulldogs marched 81 yards on just seven plays for a score, English finding Stephen Baier in the end zone for the touchdown.
For the game, the Bulldogs featured a pair of 100-yard rushers in Agae-Naipo, who finished with an even 100 and Tawney, who racked up 110.
Leading by two entering the third quarter, the Trojans took the kickoff and went 64 yards on a dozen plays for a score to make it Troy 21, Shore 12.
But again the Bulldogs weren't about to warm the bus and head down Route 14 as they came back on just four plays for their third touchdown of the game when Tawney ripped out of a couple of tackles for the final seven yards and the score. The big play on the march was a 52-yard jaunt down the left sideline by Agae-Naipo.
Unfortunately for Shore, following Tawney's TD is when the special teams had a lapse as the Trojans had good field position on their own 47. Four plays later, Troy found the end zone again for a 28-18 lead before they added another touchdown in the final period to set the final.
Shore was unable to generate any scoring threat in the final dozen minutes of the game as they went three-and-out before a final drive fizzled out short of the sticks at midfield.
Now 0-1, Shore will also hit the highway next week as they truck down Route 61 to Shamokin for a battle with the Indians at Kemp Memorial Stadium.