Bulldogs denied another district game
SELINSGROVE _ Down by a touchdown with two and a half minutes remaining in their District 4 AAAA semifinal with Sellinsgrove, Jersey Shore quarterback Elijah Shemory rolled out of the pocket and looked downfield to his favorite target _ Hunter Frantz _ slanting to the right sideline.
While trying to make a play against No. 2-seeded Selinsgrove and reach Seals territory, Shemory heaved the ball downfield. Instead of finding his receiver, Shemory hit an opposing player.
That interception, made by Selinsgrove outside linebacker Connor Van Zijl, sealed Jersey Shore’s fate and the Seals held on for a 14-7 victory Friday over the third-seeded Bulldogs at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field.
The matchup proved to be another fine addition in what has come to be a pretty good rivalry between Jersey Shore and Selinsgrove. The two teams met for the fifth straight year in the district playoffs, but for the first time in the semifinals. Now the Seals move on to face Shikellamy in the final next week.
Jersey Shore (7-4), which was the defending District 4 champ, is now faced with a long offseason in addition to the prospect of losing 16 seniors from the team, including quarterback Elijah Shemory and the aforementioned Frantz.
“We’re really proud of our seniors. They’ve been associated with a lot of football, enjoyment for the coaching staff, our town and for our fans,” said Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish. “They played extremely hard all year, and for three years, and we’re going to miss them.”
The Bulldogs held their own against the Seals for much of the first half and only trailed 7-0 after the opening 24 minutes of action.
Selinsgrove (9-2) got its lone score of the half on Logan Leiby’s 32nd touchdown pass of the season _ a six-yard dart thrown to Jarrett Inch with 10:35 left in the second quarter. A big roughing the passer penalty called on Jersey Shore on 4th-and-3 gave the Seals an automatic first down and the touchdown came three plays later.
“We were in a tight game for the most part, and it was the kind of game we figured it would be,” said Gravish. “There were a couple of plays that hurt us _ we had a penalty on one that Selinsgrove got another chance back.
“It’s almost like a baseball kind of thing, you give a batter another swing and it comes back to haunt you _ and it kind of did tonight,” added Gravish.
In the second half, however, Jersey Shore began moving the ball more effectively on the ground as evidenced by Kyle Tomb’s 80 yards in the half (and 110 overall), and it helped produce a 13-yard touchdown pass from Shemory to Frantz that knotted the score at 7 with 9:46 remaining.
But on the ensuing possession for Selinsgrove, Leiby connected on passes of 33 yards to Josh Nylund and 31 yards to Ricky Cope, with the latter resulting in the go-ahead touchdown for the Seals with 8:07 left on the clock.
“My hat’s off to Selinsgrove. They are a really good football team. This (loss) will motivate us for our offseason,” said Gravish. “We’ve been to a district championship game for four straight years, and now that we’re not there we’re going to have to rededicate ourselves.”
Said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks on the tight, competitive contest, “I knew coming in it was going to be a battle. You just hope your defense makes enough plays to keep you in the game until the offense starts clicking, and I’m proud of the way my players responded to the adversity tonight.”