More often than not, Bald Eagle Area’s ballcarriers were met at or behind the line of scrimmage by the Jersey Shore defense Friday night.
The Eagles lost yardage 13 times on a rushing play or sack. They were stuffed for no gain on four plays. They finished with negative-14 yards on the ground on 28 attempts.
And they managed just five first downs and punted seven times in a 56-0 loss.
“They can just tackle and they can get off blocks fast,” BEA coach Ron Hoover said of the Jersey Shore defense. “We had a heck of a time trying to block ‘em.”
The Bulldogs (7-2) had no trouble moving the ball as they piled up 421 yards on 55 carries and converted 32 first downs. Levi Lorson led the rushing attack with 258 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, and Bryce Charles ran for 89 yards and a score on nine carries. Jersey Shore built a 28-0 halftime lead and led 49-0 going to the fourth quarter.
The start went according to plan for the Eagles (1-8) as they recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff.
“We practiced it all week long,” Hoover said. “We thought we could get off to a fast start, that would be a chance for us to get a little shot in the arm and go with it.”
Bald Eagle Area quarterback Tanner Kresovich ran for 9 yards on the team’s first offensive play.
It proved to be the Eagles’ longest run of the game. The Bulldogs defense dropped Derek Henry for a loss on second down, and Kresovich was off target on third down.
A false start penalty forced BEA to punt.
The Eagles’ Ryan Guenot pinned Jersey Shore at the 4-yard line, but the Bulldogs put together a 12-play, 96-yard scoring drive. Lorson had 10 carries for 76 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run to give Jersey Shore a 7-0 lead with 7:42 left in the first quarter.
“That set the tone,” Jersey Shore coach Tom Gravish said. “If they would have stuffed us back there, forced a punt or turnover, then they would have had momentum. Our goal for the week was we’re not giving Bald Eagle Area any momentum at all.”
BEA never generated any momentum the rest of the night.
The Jersey Shore defense was dominant from start to finish, allowing just one first down in the first half and picking off Kresovich three times in the game.
The Bulldogs’ constant pressure in the backfield keyed the strong effort.
“Our defensive line has been the heart and soul of our defense for the last three years,” Gravish said. “And we had an intense week of practice, a lot of intensity Monday through Thursday with a lot of physical contact to try to get ready.”
Lorson and Charles provided plenty of firepower on the offensive side of the ball.
Lorson, a 5-foot-9, 193-pound back, rushed for 168 yards on 24 carries to help the Bulldogs take a four-touchdown advantage into halftime. Charles, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound back, raced down the left sideline for a 55-yard touchdown on Jersey Shore’s first play of the third quarter to make it 35-0.
“He blocks so much and we like to try to reward him for his blocking and his defensive play,” Gravish said. “And it was great to see him break a long run like that.”
Lorson later broke a long run of his own, bursting up the middle and outrunning the BEA defense for a 72-yard run for his final touchdown to push the lead to 49-0 with one second left in the third.
After the loss, Hoover told his team to turn its focus to its matchup with rival Bellefonte next week.
“I said Jersey Shore’s over,” Hoover said. “I said we need to get the Curtin Bowl back at Bald Eagle where it belongs and we got to have all our focus and all our effort starting this weekend, starting to get mentally focused and next week, full execution and we got to finish. We got to play a complete game.”