Bulldogs dominate Wildcats on road

MIFFLINBURG — Coming off a District 4 AAAA championship last year, few had expected Jersey Shore to be challenged by Bellefonte in its season opener last week. So, the Red Raiders stunning Jersey Shore last week may have served to get the Bulldogs’ attention.

After a good week of practice that was quite physical according to head coach Tom Gravish, the Bulldogs bounced back from last week’s loss in a big way as they went into Mifflinburg and shut out the Wildcats, a team that had defeated the Bulldogs in Jersey Shore in Week 2 last year, 38-0.

“Our kids’ confidence was shaken a little bit by the result last week and we didn’t play our style so we tried to get back to playing our style,” said Gravish. “We challenged them this week to be physical running the football and to tackle better. I thought we tackled better than last week and overall I was proud of how they responded, especially our line with running the ball. That was our best tackling performance this year so far in a game or practice.”

The Bulldogs set the tone on both sides of the ball, as they accumulated 506 yards of offense and held Mifflinburg to just eight yards on the ground, effectively forcing the Wildcats to abandon the run. Mifflinburg threw the ball 47 times, including 29 in the first half alone.

“We knew they were aggressive up front in their defense and like crowding the box so we tried to get the ball out quickly and make things happen,” said Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler. “We ended up throwing a little bit more than we intended to but at the same time, we had to try to mix things up to make something happen.”

Jersey Shore was balanced offensively from a yards perspective, even though it ran the ball twice as many times as it threw. Kyle Tomb led the way with 216 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown. Elijah Shemory completed 10 of 21 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Hunter Frantz, who hauled in two long touchdown receptions of 61 and 90 yards to finish with 186 yards on just three catches.

“Our goal was to establish the run and we were willing to be patient with it. Kyle is a physical kid and tough and he gave all the credit to the line and the fullbacks in our postgame talk,” said Gravish. “He always listens and if you give him a point of advice, like about reading a hole or a block, he’ll take it in and he had a special night.”

After a punt and a lost fumble on its first two possessions of the game, Jersey Shore broke through to the end zone on its third drive as Shemory found Jason Dincher on the right flank for a nine-yard reception with 6:39 left in the first quarter. A play earlier, Shemory had hooked up with Frantz for a 35-yard reception in a third down play to extend the drive.

The Bulldogs lost another fumble on their next drive at the Mifflinburg 30, but their defense did not allow the Wildcats to advance beyond midfield and after taking possession following a punt at their own 30, went 58 yards and took a 10-0 lead on Cameron Griffin’s 30-yard field goal. A 15-yard facemask penalty and a 35-yard run by Tomb were the two big plays on that drive.

Shemory’s 61-yard hookup with Frantz with 5:31 left in the half accounted for the only points of the second quarter. Mifflinburg ran 26 plays on offense over three drives in the second quarter and got into Jersey Shore territory on all three but were stopped.

Jersey Shore took even more firm control of the game on just the second play from scrimmage of the second half as Frantz scooped up a fumble and returned it 27 yards for a score to put the Bulldogs up 24-0.

Later in the quarter, Mifflinburg put together its longest drive of the game, going 13 plays all the way to the Jersey Shore 4-yard line, but on first-and-goal from the 4, had four straight incomplete passes.

From that point, Jersey Shore took over and three plays later, Shemory connected with Frantz for his third touchdown of the night on a 90-yard reception down the left sideline.

Tomb capped his night with a three-yard run early in the fourth quarter, which put the game into mercy-rule territory.