Former Bellefonte coach Tom Gravish celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Red Raiders’ 1999 District 6 title before the opening kickoff at the new-look Rogers Stadium on Friday night.
The current Jersey Shore coach shook hands and took pictures with his former district champion players, but he refused to wear the Bellefonte hat handed to him before the ceremony.
“I wasn’t going to wear that red and white one that they gave us. The (Jersey Shore) players said ‘you better not be wearing any red out there,’” Gravish cracked.
Gravish proudly wore his orange and white Jersey Shore hat, though, at the conclusion of the Bulldogs’ dominant 55-35 victory over Bellefonte.
Jersey Shore quarterback Tanner Lorson spoiled Bellefonte’s opening night in the newly renovated Rogers Stadium by accounting for eight touchdowns.
The Red Raiders (0-1) had no answer for Lorson all night long as he threw for 220 yards and four TDs and he ran for another 102 yards and four scores.
Jersey Shore’s breakneck offensive pace had the Red Raiders red in the face from the opening series until their eighth and final score with four minutes remaining.
Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning and the Red Raiders knew the Bulldogs were going to run an uptempo pace based on Jersey Shore’s scrimmage, but the Red Raiders still had a difficult time adjusting to the speed of the Bulldog’s offense throughout Friday’s contest.
“It’s hard to replicate it. You can’t replicate it,” Manning said of Jersey Shore’s pace. “Once you get on your heels a little bit, you start chasing. One series turns into two series. Two series turns into three series and that’s what happens.”
Jersey Shore (1-0), the defending District 4 Class 4A champions, stormed out to a 28-7 lead just 16 minutes into the season opener. Bellefonte eventually clawed back to tie the game just two minutes into the second half with 21 unanswered points.
Bellefonte quarterback Ethan Rossman hit a streaking Mason Grey down the seam for a 54-yard score to tie the game at 28-28 with 9:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs silenced the home crowd and responded with four consecutive touchdowns in a 14-minute span to put the game on ice in the second half.
Jersey Shore nearly broke open the game at the end of the first half but a wide-open Catden Hess dropped a perfect pass from Lorson, which would’ve resulted in a 58-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up by three scores.
On the next play, Bellefonte linebacker Chris Paloskey picked off a Lorson pass on a post pattern. Jalen Emel scored on an 11-yard touchdown run four plays later to make it 28-21 with two minutes remaining before the half.
“That’s one of those plays that tests your resiliency and the character of your team,” Gravish said of Hess’ drop. “The next thing you know, one play later, they get that interception. I’m proud of the way our guys bounced back.”
Bellefonte had enough trouble slowing down the Bulldogs’ offense — they allowed 462 total yards — but the Red Raiders compounded their defensive woes with four botched snaps on punts.
The four punt-team miscues gave the Bulldogs an average starting field position at the Bellefonte 23-yard line, which Jersey Shore easily turned into four touchdowns.
Manning, who oversees the team’s special teams units, said that the Red Raiders were breaking in a lot of new special teams players in the season opener.
He promised to straighten things out this week in practice before they get another chance to get a win at the new Rogers Stadium against Huntingdon when Bellefonte opens Mountain League play next Friday.
“We had some distractions and there’s some things I could’ve probably done a better job of insulating the team from,” Manning said. “I don’t know if it played a role or not, but we’ll get it straightened out.”
Jersey Shore 55, Bellefonte 35
(Friday at Bellefonte)
Jersey Shore 14 14 14 13 – 55
Bellefonte 0 21 7 7 – 35
JS – Westlin 20 pass from Lorson (Allison kick), 10:07
JS – Hess 35 pass from Lorson (Allison kick), 3:25
B – Funk 1 run (Rossman kick), 11:33
JS – Lorson 1 run (Allison kick), 9:26
JS – Hess 11 pass from Lorson (Allison kick), 7:41
B – Nadolsky 8 pass from Rossman (Rossman kick), 5:13
B – Jalen Emel 11 run (Rossman kick), 2:04
B – Grey 54 pass from Rossman (Rossman kick), 9:51
JS – Westlin 11 pass from Lorson (kick failed), 6:30
JS – Lorson 4 run (Lorson run), 3:01
JS – Lorson 4 run (Allison kick), 9:15
JS – Lorson 8 run (kick failed), 4:25
B – Bauman 26 pass from Jalen Emel (Alterio kick), 1:10
Top Rusher: Jersey Shore: Lorson 17-102-4. Bellefonte: Funk 11-73-1
Top Passer: Jersey Shore: Lorson 16-26-1-4 220. Bellefonte: Rossman 9-25-0-2 106.
Top Receiver: Jersey Shore: Hess 5-84-1. Bellefonte: Grey 4-87-1.
Next Game: Huntingdon at Bellefonte, Friday