Shore wins at Montoursville for the first time in 32 seasons

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Jersey Shore's Hunter Frantz (17) goes high for a pass but come up empty handed as Montoursville's Dylan Moll (20) defends in the second quarter.

As David Tomb wiped tears from his eyes, it became apparent this was no ordinary win. The Jersey Shore starting two-way lineman and so many past and present Bulldogs never experienced anything but frustration at Montoursville’s Memorial Stadium.

But now, finally, Tomb and Jersey Shore were experiencing that winning feeling there. Friday’s win was not just for the current Jersey Shore players but all those that played over the last 32 years.

Tomb’s twin brother Kyle ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns, David Tomb helped anchor a stout defense that allowed no second-half points and Jersey Shore rallied from a halftime deficit as it defeated Montoursville, 29-13 and won at Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1985.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt,” David Tomb said after finishing with five tackles and three quarterback hurries. “This was a big game for us. We went in at halftime thinking we still had this game. We got everyone up and we never lost faith.”

Elijah Shemory hit Hunter Frantz with a 58-yard third-quarter touchdown, Jersey Shore relentlessly attacked the quarterback and the Bulldogs outscored a rapidly improving Montoursville team, 17-0 in the second half. The Bulldogs (4-1) won their fourth straight, repeatedly made key second-half stops and became just the second Jersey Shore team in 32 years to beat Montoursville.

The Warriors made Jersey Shore earn that elusive win the hard way and, ultimately, that might have made it even sweeter.

“We told the guys at halftime, great teams get challenged with games where you have turnovers and adversity and, ‘are you able to come back and respond?'” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “Our kids played hard and any time you have to struggle through something like that it’s always good for the future.”

Montoursville (0-5) has just three starters back from last year’s District 4 Class AAA champion and continued its murderer’s row of opponents to open the season but showed how much progress it is making. The Warriors look like a team that could win several games down the stretch after pushing the defending District 4 Class AAAA champions hard and taking a 13-12 halftime lead.

Montoursville forced four turnovers, the offense played its best game and a 13-point second-quarter gave it a one-point halftime lead. It was a huge step forward for a team that held Jersey Shore to its fewest yards since Week 1. The Warriors hurt themselves with 13 penalties for 125 yards but remained in the game into the final minute.

“We’re not a bad football team. I don’t care what our record says. People don’t realize who we’ve played. We’ve played some great teams,” Mon­toursville coach J.C. Keefer said. “We stood toe to toe with Dan­ville (4-1) and Jersey Shore. You take the penalties away and I think this game comes down to the last possession.”

Kyle Tomb scored twice in the first half, but Montoursville answered each time, taking its first lead this season when Hunter Shearer found tight end Owen Hoffman for a 15-yard screen pass touchdown. That capped a 65-yard drive and Hoffman set up the next touchdown recovering a fumble at the Jersey Shore 7-yard line. Two plays later Keegan Leahy, part of a stingy defense, scored a 1-yard touchdown that made it 13-12.

Instead of thinking about the past at what had been a House of Horrors, Jersey Shore remained focused on the final two quarters at halftime. Coaches wrote the No. 13 on the board, underlining it, and telling their team that was at Montoursville would get. The defense then made the coaches look like prophets, turning up the pressure and playing with ferocity the final 24 minutes.

Jersey Shore finished with four sacks, but was hitting quarterback Hunter Shearer every time he threw. Shearer (159 yards) showed he is as tough as he is talented and kept popping back up, but the constant pressure took its toll and slowed down Montoursville’s offense. Frantz and Cody Stetts intercepted second-half passes and Jersey Shore twice forced turnovers after Montoursville crossed its 40-yard line during the second half.

“In the locker room we told each other we had to stay focused,” Kyle Tomb said. “That was our main word all week.”

“He didn’t have enough time to throw,” David Tomb said. “It was the whole line. We got in there and we got pressure and it made it tough for him to throw it.”

Jersey Shore went ahead to stay on Cameron Griffin’s 20-yard third-quarter field goal and made it a nine-point game a series later. Hoffman’s pressure denied Shemory a chance to hit Frantz throughout the first half, but the line protected well on a 3rd-and-long and Shemory hit Frantz in stride with the 58-yard touchdown that made it 22-13. Stetts’s interception and a fourth-down stop gave Jersey Shore a chance to start putting the game away.

Linemen Tomb, Howard Fausey, Jacob Jones, Hunter O’Connor and Mason Sechrist started taking over late and Tomb broke loose for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 29-13. Anthony Darby’s two sacks on Montoursville’s ensuing series dropped the hammer and Jersey Shore finally felt that winning thrill on Montoursville’s field.

“We knew Montoursville was going to be tough. They have great coaches, great players and a great football tradition,” said Gravish, who will take his team to the Maryland game Saturday. “They weren’t going to be an easy out and we knew that and all our guys did a great job.”

Hoffman had two tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries for Montoursville while Leahy and Cole Ranck combined for 11 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

“We went from a young defense to a defense that is competing,” Keefer said. “We’re starting five sophomores and our defense has gotten better and better and better.”