MULLICA HILL – For Joe Dalsey, the third time was the charm.
With the scored tied at 14 and seven seconds remaining in Shawnee's South Jersey Group 4 championship game with Clearview, the Renegades' senior attempted a 40-yard field goal, but the ball landed in the end zone short of the goal posts.
In the first overtime, after the Renegades had blocked Hunter Logan’s 32-yard field goal attempt for Clearview, Dalsey tried a 32-yard field goal. It had the distance, but it was wide to the right.
But, in the second overtime, with another chance to lift his team to victory, Dalsey drilled a 27-yard field goal to give Shawnee a 17-14 lead and, when the Renegades' Jon Searcy recovered a fumble at the 17-yard line, Shawnee had its second straight sectional championship.
“I thought of all the practice I put in for the past six years from the time I started my career in eighth grade, then I just flushed everything out of my mind and did what I had to do,” said Dalsey on how he approached his third attempt.”It was all amazing, but I knew we had to stay strong on defense because it wasn’t over yet.”
It was over when Searcy recovered the fumble, and the Renegades, who entered the playoffs with a 2-6 record won three games on the road to capture the eighth sectional title in program history and earn a berth in South-Central Group 4 Bowl Game at Met Life Stadium opposite Central Jersey champion Long Branch.
“These kids are competitors,” said Shawnee coach Tim Gushue, standing at midfield after the game. “We keep talking about that. In October we lost four games. We lost to Woodrow Wilson up there by two. We lost to Union City and they’re playing in a final tonight up north. Williamstown kind of took it to us. The RV (Rancocas Valley) game we only lost by six.
“These guys just believed in each other. We always talk to the team about being all in, everybody on the same page. These guys believed in what the coaches were doing. We made some changes. We made some personnel changes. But they stuck together and believed in what we were doing.”
Clearview (7-3) jumped out front 14-0, scoring a first quarter touchdown on a 40-yard run by Hunter Lewis and getting Troy Bentancur’s 9-yard run early in the second quarter. But Shawnee got on the scoreboard with 2:32 remaining in the first half on Dalsey’s 9-yard run to cut Clearview’s lead to 14-7 at halftime.
After a three-and-out by the Pioneers to start the second half, the Renegades marched 53-yards in 10 plays, all rushing. Tom Rebstock carried four times for 19 yards and Dalsey rushed six times for 39 yards. His 2-yard dive into the end zone tied the game.
“Coach Jimmy (Welsh) said a couple of things to us (at halftime) and Coach (Jake) Pisarcik picked up a couple things in their line and from there we kept rolling, Dalsey said.”
Once the game was tied, the defenses took over. Neither offense was able to mount a drive until the final series when Shawnee drove to the Clearview 23-yard line and Dalsey attempted the 40-yard field goal that fell short.
In the first overtime, Logan had his field goal blocked. Then Dalsey missed one before making the eventual game winner. When Searcy recovered the fumble, it was over.
“I think they bobbled the handoff, it just bounced to me and I fell on it,” Searcy said. “I didn’t even realize the game was over until I saw everyone running onto the field.”
Clearview coach Steve Scanlon acknowledged how disappointing it was for his team get so close, yet come up agonizingly short at the end.
“I told them it was on me," he said. "They poured their hearts and souls into this game tonight and I have to do a better job. We were battling back and forth. We both had chances, but they made the last one. We congratulate them. They did a tremendous job tonight. They are what we expect to become.”
S.J. Group 4
Shawnee 17, Clearview 14
Shawnee 0 7 7 0 0 3 - 17
Clearview 7 7 0 0 0 0 - 14
C – Hunter Lewis 40 run (Hunter Logan kick)
C – Troy Bentancur 8 run (Logan kick)
S – Joe Dalsey 9 run (Dalsey kick)
S – Dalsey 2 run (Dalsey kick)
S – Dalsey 27 yard FG.