Jersey Shore at Lampeter-Strasburg capsule

Jersey Shore PPG-38.6, PPA-4.9; YPG-391.8, YPA-132.2

Jersey Shore Road to Final Four: beat Mifflinburg, 48-7; Shamokin, 54-0 and Crestwood, 26-14.

Jersey Shore facts: The Bulldogs are seeking their first state championship appearance and are playing in the state’s Final Four for a second straight year. Jersey Shore downed undefeated Crestwood on its home field, making three stops inside the 10-yard line and erasing a one-point second-quarter deficit. Jersey Shore also forced four turnovers, three which led to touchdowns. Jersey Shore captured its third straight HAC-I and District 4 championships earlier this season and is ranked No. 1 in the state for the first time in program history. The defense has not allowed more than 14 points in a game and Kooper Peacock helped seal last week’s win with two late, clutch interceptions. Defensive ends Dalton Dugan and Quincey Myers combined for three sacks and each forced a fumble which led to a touchdown. Lee Springman, Colin Samar and Ben Webb did an outstanding job along the interior line and Hayden Packer made a career-high 16 tackles. Cayden Hess, Cam Allison and Owen Anderson all made big tackles which helped prevent touchdowns and linebacker Jared Palski shined after coming off the bench. Anderson has scored seven playoff touchdowns and put Jersey Shore ahead to stay with a 39-yard touchdown run before adding a 42-yard third-quarter touchdown catch. Hess caught seven passes, reaching 50 for a second straight season. Hess, Anderson and Dugan all have caught at least 22 passes and three touchdowns this season. Quarterback Branden Wheary has topped 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year starting and Allison went over 900 yards for the season in last week’s game. Allison scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to help seal the win and and has topped 100 yards six times. Packer ran for 40 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and sophomore Brady Jordan ran for five touchdowns during districts. The offensive line played well against a strong Crestwood defense and Jersey Shore put together a well-balanced 85-yard touchdown drive to open a 19-7 third-quarter lead. Since starting last season 4-3, Jersey Shore has gone 16-1. The Bulldogs have won five district championships since 2013 and completed an undefeated regular season for the second time since 2014.

Jersey Shore player to watch–Colin Samar: An outstanding two-way lineman, Samar is one of those players who flies under the radar because of the positions he plays, but who has been so critical to the team’s success these last few seasons. Samar made seven tackles against Crestwood and helped create the game’s biggest play when he stoned a ball-carrier in the backfield a split second before Dugan forced a fumble which ultimately led to Jersey Shore building a 12-point lead.

Lampeter-Strasburg Road to Final Four: beat Conrad Weiser, 56-35; and ELCO, 20-3.

Lampeter-Strasburg PPG-44. 7, PPA-11.3; YPG-374.6

Lampeter-Strasburg facts: The Pioneers beat two undefeated teams en route to capturing their second straight District 3 championship, doing so in a shootout before rallying from a 3-0 halftime deficit to beat ELCO. L-S went 11-4 last year and repeated as District 3 champions for the first time in program history. Like Jersey Shore, L-S is playing in the semifinals for a second straight year after being on the west side a year ago and losing to eventual champion Thomas Jefferson. The Pioneers run a similar spread offense as Jersey Shore with quarterback Sean McTaggart throwing for 1,389 yards, 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also is the team’s second-leading rusher with 388 yards and seven touchdowns. The first-time starting senior threw for 360 yards and seven touchdowns against Conrad Weiser before throwing for 267 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns against ELCO. Four players have caught at least 13 passes and three touchdowns. Austin Stoltzfus is a big-play threat, averaging 31.8 yards per catch and scoring seven touchdowns in seven different games. He caught a 76-yard fourth-quarter touchdown last week. Ian Herr is another player who stretches the field, catching 15 passes for 377 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 25.1 yards per catch. Herr has 200 yards the last two weeks. Beau Heyser has 15 catches or 302 yards and five touchdown, complementing a receiving arsenal which can get open deep and/or turn short catches into long gains. Alex Knapp (13 catches) plays an Owen Anderson-type role, catching 13 passes while running for 380 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Drew Harris leads the team in rushing with 447 yards and five touchdowns on 5 yards per carry. Owen Fikkert has added 246 yards and four touchdowns. The defense has been stingy and slowed ELCO’s power running game last week, allowing its offense the opportunity to come back in the second half. Defensive end Parker Owens is a force, making 24 tackles for loss and collecting 12 sacks. He has tackles for loss in each game and had four sacks against Conrad Weiser. Linebacker Nick DelGrande averages 6.8 tackles per game and has six tackles for loss. Cornerback Conner Nolt has three interceptions, two forced fumbles and has blocked three kicks. Safety Berkeley Wagner also has intercepted three passes. Andrew Reidenbaugh kicked two third-quarter field goals against ELCO, giving L-S a 6-3 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Lampeter-Strasburg player to watch–Elijah Carr: The linebacker has been outstanding all year, but especially in the postseason. Carr averages a team-high 8.3 tackles per game and has two sacks. Carr has 28 tackles in two playoff games, including a season-high 16 last week against ELCO.

Winner plays: Thomas Jefferson or Oil City

Outlook: The similarities between the state’s two top-ranked teams is striking on paper and in terms of playing style. Obviously, any game at this time of year presents quite a challenge and Jersey Shore also has a 2 1/2 hour bus trip to play on L-S’s home field to contend with. The Bulldogs, though, have long embraced the underdog role. Each team has coveted another shot at reaching this point and this has the makings of an outstanding game.


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