EAST RUTHERFORD--- Shawnee’s fantastic postseason run came to an end in the South-Central Group 4 bowl game at the hands of Long Branch.
The Renegades fell 20-17 after breaking out to a 17-0 lead in the first half.
Shawnee started fast behind freshman quarterback Matt Welsey, who hit senior Joe Dalsey for 16 yards on the opening play.
Dalsey finished off the first drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, and he followed it up with a scoring reception from Welsey for 16 yards.
Dalsey did a little bit of everything in the first half, as he pinned Long Branch deep with a 64-yard punt and kicked a 31-yard field goal near the end of the second quarter.
“It felt amazing,” Dalsey said. “Throughout the season, we knew we were going to get our shot at the playoffs. We knew our hard schedule was going to prepare us for this. I’m real proud of my brothers and what we’ve been able to do in the postseason."
However, Long Branch inched back into the game by the end of the first half, as Jermaine Corbett scored on a touchdown run.
The Green Wave took advantage of the momentum and used a pair of second-half touchdowns to take the lead.
“Credit Long Branch, they did some really good things and they made more plays than we did,” Shawnee head coach Tim Gushue said.
Despite giving up 20 unanswered points, the Renegades still had a chance until the final seconds, as Welsey picked out Nate Summerville on 4th-and-23 to get near midfield.
“(Welsey)’s learned a lot,” Gushue said. “He went against some really good players and teams down the stretch and was able to make plays.”
Gushue left the field proud of the group of seniors that rallied back from 2-6 to make the playoffs and win the South Jersey Group 4 title.
“There’s a lot of guys disappointed,” Gushue said. “For some of them, they realize it’s over. Fun doesn’t even put it into perspective, but the fact that I come to work every day with these guys, they’re a super group of young guys.”
For the seniors, they set a new bar for the players coming back to get to MetLife every year, and with a promising prospect in Welsey at quarterback, the Renegades have a chance to be back in East Rutherford next fall.