MILTON - After playing some good teams tough only to come up short, the worm finally turned in favor of the Jersey Shore Bulldogs Friday night in their HAC-I battle with the Milton Black Panthers.
Involved in one of those you score, we score games, the Bulldogs found themselves down 4 points with less than 6 minutes left and the ball on their own 12-yard line.
Putting the offensive machine in action, the Bulldogs marched the 88 yards on 14 plays, quarterback Logan English hit Brody Smith with a 9-yard scoring pass, with Smith making a circus catch in the right corner of the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winner with less than a minute left as Shore won, 42-39.
"It was just a total team effort," said a happy Shore head coach Tom Gravish. "We used five wideouts, multiple guys on the offensive line, two tight ends, two quarterbacks, two fullbacks and two tailbacks. In the end, it was a total grab the rope effort that we have been preaching to the guys all season long. We have an extremely young football team with only five seniors and those five guys have given us everything they have. I have been telling the guys that they are getting better every day and for the younger guys, they are going to get better every day and each and every week."
So what does a win like this one mean to all of the Bulldog players?
"These kids believed in themselves from the get go. They just didn't always see the results. We were in a lot of close games with a lot of good teams We played Danville tough for three quarters, we were in a close game with Montoursville and all we were lacking was a little confidence. This is the kind of game the young guys need to be a part of to gain the confidence for the future against a great Milton team. I have been impressed with what coach 'G' (George Goodwin) does over there. They have a good outfit. If you look at the two rosters you would find out they have a lot more seniors than we have."
The two teams traded scores in the first half while combining for 60 points as Milton held a 31-29 lead at the break.
There were a number of players who put up big offensive numbers, but in the end, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top.
For Shore, Utoa Agae-Naipo rushed 26 times for 167 yards while scoring two touchdowns, while English completed eight of 14 pass attempts for 186 yards and a pair of scores.
For Milton, Josh Brown carried the ball 22 times for 150 yards while scoring twice and quarterback Brady Chappell threw for 187 yards and two scores.
In addition to English, Agae-Naipo and others, Gravish and his staff unleashed a secret weapon in Jordan Tawney who still wears a wrap from suffering a pair of broken fingers in the second game of the season.
For the game, Tawney was kept out of the end zone, but the senior quarterback/wildcat rushed 11 times for 90 big yards.
"I think that Jordan Tawney factor we threw in there kind of sparked our guys as well as maybe caught them off balance a little bit," said Gravish. "The whole team has been pulling for him to get more offensive reps with his broken hand and for him to have some inspiring plays out there, that gave our team a lot of energy tonight."
Now 3-6, the Bulldogs return home next Friday for the season finale with Central Mountain.
"We are going to go into the locker room and do some pushups which is one of our traditions," Gravish said. "We are going to enjoy this for a while, but not too long because I think there is a team up the road that is waiting to play us."