NEWVILLE >> Before Northern York's Bobby Shelly took over and led the Polar Bears to a 17-10 victory against Big Spring Friday night, Big Spring looked to be in control.
As the third quarter wound down, the Big Spring Bulldogs (3-3, 1-2 Mid Penn Colonial Division) had enough of an answer for most everything the Polar Bears (5-1, 3-0) tried.
What they didn't have an answer for they managed to overcome with hustle, converting three interceptions into a 10-7 lead. Now the Bulldogs were punting back to Northern and it looked like another break was in the offing.
As the punt sailed high toward the Northern returner, he turned and reached back to pull it in. The ball went through his hands, bounced once and into the waiting arms of the Bulldogs' Garrett Chestnut, who raced toward the end zone.
The officials immediately blew the play dead, as a muffed punt cannot be advanced. Following a huddle near the Northern 40-yard line, however, the group apparently decided the Northern returner did not touch the ball and awarded possession to the Polar Bears.
From there, Shelly took over. He carried nine times on a 12-play drive as Northern took a 14-10 lead. Shelly rushed for 171 yards on 31 carries.
"Bobby's a fantastic young man. The kid works his tail off," Northern head coach Greg Bowman said after the game. "He hasn't exactly been excited about playing fullback in this offense. But we felt the way to go in the second half was to line him up and bring the hammer."
On the first play after Shelly scored on a 1-yard run, Big Spring's Tristan Robb fumbled after a 10-yard catch and run. The Polar Bears used nine consecutive Shelly runs to help convert the turnover into three points.
Overall, Bowman wasn't happy.
The Polar Bears like to rotate quarterbacks. In the first half, both Curtis Robison and Justin Markle made friends with Bulldogs' defensive back Joseph Yaukey. The Big Spring defender intercepted both Markle and Robison to keep the home team in control.
Robison finally got it going with 5:38 left in the half, finding Joey Razzano with a 20-yard dart on a key fourth-down play.
Northern and East Pennsboro remain the only undefeated teams in division play, with the two programs scheduled to play in the regular-season finale Nov. 6 in Dillsburg.
"What I saw all night long was sloppy football from us," Bowman said. "We've kind of banded together in the second halves and won football games, but I don't think we can continue to play sloppy football games and win."
Northern York07010—17Big Spring7300—10
BS — Tristan Robb 11-yard run (Keiter kick) 10:22
Nor — Joey Razzano 20-yard pass from Curtis Robison (Alves kick) 5:38
BS — Noah Keiter 37-yard FG 1:38
Nor — Bobby Shelly 1-yard run (Alves kick) 6:34
Nor — Aidan Alves 32-yard FG 1:38
NorBSFirst downs137Rushes-yards48-23524-107Passing4-129-18Passing yards3561Total yards270168Punts2-653-68Fumbles-lost0-02-1Penalties-yards6-553-20
Rushing — Nor, Curtis Robison, 2-12, Michael Kearney, 7-35, Bobby Shelly, 31-171, Justin Markle, 3-1, John Kearney, 1-2, Wyatt Lewis, 3-7, Jake Cromer, 1-7. BS, Jaret Petty, 12-40, Ryan Adams, 3-27, Triston Cooper, 5-1, Tristan Robb, 4-39.
Passing — Nor, Robison, 3-9-23-2, Markle, 1-3-12-1. BS, Jaret Petty, 9-18-61-0.
Receiving — Nor, Cromer, 1-3, Joey Razzano, 1-20, Joshua Fekete, 1-0, Lewis, 1-12. BS, Adams, 1-8, Kenny Blessing, 1-3, Garrett Chestnut, 1-12, Cooper,4-17, Tristan Robb, 1-10, Peyton Bechtold, 1-1.