Chris Masse on football: Jordan brothers playing well at Shore
Brady and Elijah Jordan never played high school football together before this season. But when the pressure was highest and the noise its loudest, the brothers felt perfectly at home late Friday night against rival Montoursville.
Jersey Shore trailed by seven with 62 seconds remaining and had to go 85 yards without a timeout against an outstanding defense. Maybe it never happened on a high school field before, but Brady and Elijah had flourished in moments like these countless times before.
The only difference this time was it counted.
Brady found Elijah for a 45-yard pass which set Jersey Shore up at the 2-yard line and Brady found Connor Griffin a play later for the game-tying touchdown. Brady then hit Cayden Hess with the game-winning 13-yard touchdown as Jersey Shore won a 27-20 overtime thriller in a showdown between perennial district powerhouses.
Brady threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns, while Elijah ran for 97 yards and totaled 133, all in the second half. What a family celebration this became.
“We’ve always had that chemistry,” Brady, a junior, said. “We’ve had it since we’ve first been playing in the backyard.”
“It’s so awesome being able to play together,” Elijah, a freshman, said. “It’s something we’ve always dreamed about.
Dreams became reality in dramatic fashion as Jersey Shore (3-0) remained undefeated and handed Montoursville its first regular-season loss since 2019. The Jordan’s literally had their fingerprints all over this win and were at their best at the perfect time. Brady completed 4 of 4 passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns on the final two drives, adding a 17-yard run. Elijah was a difference-maker throughout the second half and his running set up a field goal while loosening up Montoursville’s defense.
The chemistry these brothers share was evident on the game-tying drive’s signature play. Elijah ran a skinny post, gained a step on his defender and caught Brady’s attention. Brady then threw a perfect pass, hitting Elijah in stride over the middle as the freshman nearly went the distance on the 45-yard connection.
“I’ve played with him my whole life and we have that brother connection,” Brady said. “I trusted him to make the play.”
Brady made a lot of plays, doing his best Tom Brady impersonation late in the game. An excellent athlete who also made the game-clinching interception, Brady developed into a versatile weapon last season, scoring eight touchdowns for the Class AAAA Eastern Region champions. Playing quarterback for the first time in high school, he is making strides each game and shined brightest when times appeared toughest Friday.
On the game-tying drive, Brady accounted for all 85 yards. Facing a 2nd-and-goal from the 13 in overtime, he lofted a perfect pass and gave Hess an opportunity. Hess took it from there and the all-stater pulled down the game-winner despite blanket coverage.
“I’m so proud of him. He just kept making plays,” Elijah said. “He really stepped up.”
So did Elijah. And the pride was reciprocal.
The freshman has impressed Jersey Shore coaches and teammates during practice and coach Tom Gravish looked his way in the second half. Elijah rewarded his coach’s confidence and ripped off some long runs which pulled Jersey Shore within 14-13 following Breck Miller’s 25-yard field goal. He and fullback Karter Peacock complemented each well and Jersey Shore’s offense looked more dynamic as Elijah displayed why his present looks as bright as his present.
“I was so proud of him watching him play the way he did,” Brady said. “I always knew he had it in him. It’s great to see him show it.”
“We knew that he has good skills and I wanted to try it out in the beginning of the second half and see what he could do in this type of game,” Gravish said. “The players have a lot of confidence in him and he makes us look pretty bad in practice sometimes when he’s on scout team. When that happens to our defense it’s worth tossing the ball to him a couple times.”
Brady and Elijah have tossed the ball around so many times during their lives. Now they get to do it on the big stage.
And while the brothers are hoping many more memorable nights are coming this will never forget what they did together Friday night.
FAST LEARNERS: Montoursville linebackers Dylan Blackwell, Brayden Brown, Matthew Conklin and Kayden Frame all are first-year starters. Watching them play, it sure does not feel that way. Each athlete is flourishing as they gain more experience and that quartet played a strong collective game against Jersey Shore.
Montoursville was 62 seconds from victory and those four were a major reason why. Frame collected two sacks and made a career-high 11 tackles as did Brown who added a sack. Conklin blew up Jersey Shore’s second-to-last drive in regulation and totaled three tackles for loss among his nine tackles. Blackwell continued emerging and reached a career-high in tackles for a second straight week, tallying 10.
Montoursville’s linebacking unit was outstanding a year ago when the Warriors captured a third straight HAC-II championship. Really, it’s been that way through the years and this latest group is carrying on the tradition well.
“They’re doing a good job,” Montoursville coach Mike Boughton said. “They’re growing up fast and they’re getting better each week.”
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: Montgomery and Milton are 3-0 for the first time in the 2000s. Montgomery defeated Warrior Run, 46-13 and Milton downed Holy Redeemer, 35-12. Both teams have strong mixes of experienced leaders and promising new starters and their confidence is growing each week.
Montgomery’s defense intercepted five passes against Warrior Run and Logan Almeida and Coltin Hans each returned picks for touchdowns, giving the Red Raiders three defensive touchdowns this season. Hans also caught seven passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. The area’s leading tackler, Weston Pick, made 10 tackles, including four for loss. To put into perspective how long it has been since Montgomery was 3-0, coach Christian Diggs was 1 at the time and line coach Eli Clary was six months old.
Milton is imposing its will up front and its offensive line paved the way for a third straight game of more than 300 rushing yards. The Black Panthers lead the area with 1,031 rushing yards and quarterback Xvavier Minium has run for eight touchdowns. Milton has been dominant against the run the last two weeks, allowing no yards, including minus-32 against Redeemer.
EXTRA POINTS: Canton (3-0) continues playing stifling defense and made a statement with a 21-7 win at South Williamsport. The Warrior starting defense has allowed just one touchdown this season and is surrendering 159 yards per game. Riley Parker and Hayden Ward each ran for 66 yards and scored three touchdowns as Canton defeated South for a third straight time. South’s Grant Bachman caught six passes for 85 yards and a touchdown while Clayton Swarthout ran for 99 yards … Muncy (2-1) won its second straight, coming off a short week and pounding Wyalusing, 42-8. The starting defense did not allow a point for a second straight game and Muncy imposed the mercy rule by halftime, giving it 78 first-half points the last two weeks. Freshman Austin Johnson and senior Ty Nixon both went over 100 yards rushing and Branson Eyer completed all six of his passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Eyer is 10 for 10 for 309 yards and five touchdowns the last two weeks. Bailey Hadzinikolov caught a 24-yard touchdown and kicker Loudon Boring remained perfect on extra points, improving to 15 for 15 … Cowanesque Valley (2-1) continues its ascent and won its second straight thriller, edging Northwest, 15-14. The Indians have won four of their last five games going back to last year and have rallied in each of the last two games, scoring the winning touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Tanyan Brown caught Jacob Schmitt touchdowns of 80 and 52 yards and the defense shut down Northwest’s power running game, allowing just 100 yards … Warrior Run quarterback Ryan Newton threw for a career-high 190 yards against Montgomery and Derek Thomas caught his third touchdown pass in two games and has 172 yards in those contests.
Chris Masse covers high school football and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DR. MASSE’S TOP 5 RANKINGS
1. Jersey Shore (3-0): Breck Miller has played three high school football games, but the soccer player already has become one of Jersey Shore’s most valuable players. Without Miller and his leg, Jersey Shore might be 1-2 instead of 3-0. The junior kicker has provided Jersey Shore a weapon and a week after kicking the game-winning field goal in a 9-7 victory at Selinsgrove, he delivered a series of clutch kicks which helped Jersey Shore overtake Montoursville. Miller was perfect on five kicks and his field goals of 35 and 25 yards gave Jersey Shore a shot at making its last-minute comeback. He also connected on the game-tying extra point to force overtime twice, doing so again following a penalty. This was an outstanding collective performance with every Jersey Shore player doing his part, but Miller’s big kicks made quite a difference.
2. Montoursville (2-1): Jersey Shore did a nice job bottling up all-state running back Rocco Pulizzi, but the senior workhorse still made a big impact, running for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Pulizzi has shown his power these first three weeks against defenses designed to slow him and broke loose for a late 79-yard touchdown which put Montoursville ahead 20-13. Pulizzi went over 3,000 career yards earlier in the game and scored his 40th career rushing touchdown on that play. He also went over 100 yards for the eighth straight game, a streak which started with last year’s season opener. Pulizzi and the Warriors have another challenge coming Friday when they play Mount Carmel.
3. Williamsport (2-1): That Williamsport defeated Mifflin County 24-2 and did not allow any offensive points and was still mighty disappointed afterward reveals a lot about the expectations this team has. The Millionaires have the pieces to make an extended playoff run and now it’s a matter of putting it all together. The defense formed a strong foundation for growth and allowed just 99 yards. Nariq Burks was a force, making a career-high 10 tackles while adding two sacks and four tackles for loss. Jamaire Harden (5 catches, 104 yards) continued his dazzling breakout season and topped 100 yards while scoring a touchdown for a third straight game. Keith Freeman scored twice, one rushing and one receiving and the offense had balance with Nasir Hennigan running for 97 yards. Frankie Morrone threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns and has thrown for at least one score in 10 of his 11 starts over the last two seasons.
4. Loyalsock (2-1): A lot of positives came from Loyalsock’s 51-15 loss at four-time defending Class AA state champion Southern Columbia. The game was tied early and Loyalsock was down just 27-15 in the second quarter, gaining more than 200 first-half yards against a team which had blanked its first two opponents and which has won 63 straight games. That performance bodes well for Loyalsock if it keeps building moving forward. Davion Hill gave Southern fits, running for 126 yards and a touchdown while Rian Glunk caught at least five passes for a third straight game, producing 81 yards and a touchdown. Loyalsock has another big challenge coming Friday when it hosts defending District 4 Class AAA champion and undefeated Danville.
5. Central Mountain (3-0): When the margin for error has been slim, Central Mountain’s defense has been fantastic. The Wildcats made a goal line stand for a second straight week and stopped a Bloomsburg drive inside the 35-yard line late while winning, 21-16. Central Mountain, born in 1999, is 3-0 for the first time ever and that tenacious defense has repeatedly made big plays in each game, helping it win three close contests. Linebacker Micah Walizer is one of the area’s best and he also is a reliable fullback who caught a touchdown, as did Tyler Weaver. Central Mountain is a fairly young team which replaced the majority of last year’s starters and that makes this strong start even more impressive. Owen Persun helped fuel the defense against Bloomsburg, making three tackles for loss and Giovanni Tarantella added a sack.
Players of the Week
Logan Almeida, Montgomery and Chris Doyle, Milton: Almeida put together one of the more remarkable all-around performances in recent area history while also becoming the program’s all-time leader in yards and topping 3,000. The senior quarterback completed 17 of 22 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns while running for 30 yards and a score. Even more impressive he tied an area record, intercepting four passes and returning one for a touchdown. Almeida has an interception and all three games and six this season, his first starting in the secondary. Doyle is off to one of the best freshman starts in area history and ran wild against Redeemer, gaining a 2021 area-best 271 yards and scoring twice. Doyle has topped 100 yards in all three games and his 271 were the most by a Milton running back in the 2000s. He also leads District 4 in rushing with 616 yards while averaging 9.5 yards per carry.
Game of the Week
Central Mountain at Williamsport: A long-time rivalry is renewed and this will be the biggest game in this series history. At a combined 5-1, this is the highest winning percentage these teams enter a game with since they started playing in 2002. Williamsport is hoping to break out in a big way while Central Mountain wants to remain perfect. It has the looks of being an outstanding contest.