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Jersey Shore’s Karter Peacock returned in state semis

Fighting a hamstring issue since Week 2, Karter Peacock encountered more pain last week when he injured his elbow at practice.

Still, Peacock knew that if he could walk he was playing come Friday. The reliable defensive tackle had missed the last seven games, but was not watching the biggest game in Jersey Shore history from the sidelines.

And the Bulldogs sure are grateful that Peacock is as tough as he is talented.

Peacock returned for the Class AAAA Eastern Region championship against Lampeter-Strasburg and made a big impact, collecting two sacks as Jersey Shore won, 39-35. Peacock and the Bulldogs are headed to Hershey now and will play Thomas Jefferson Saturday afternoon for the state championship.

It was and has been a collective effort all year, but had Peacock not played Friday, it would probably be Lampeter-Strasburg playing Thomas Jefferson instead.

“Getting Karter Peacock back was a huge win for our team coming into the game. Bringing back Karter and pairing him with my guys Colin Samar and Ben Webb made the defensive line relentless,” fellow lineman Lee Springman said. “Karter has been such a central voice for success, and we needed that on the defensive side to win that football game.”

“The whole time I knew I was playing. No matter what I was coming back and helping the team out,” Peacock said. “It felt amazing. It was the best feeling ever, coming back with your teammates.”

Peacock could not have picked a better time to return. Not only is the junior one of the area’s premier defensive linemen, but Springman was battling an ankle injury. Peacock returning allowed Springman to play just along the offensive line as he filled the defensive line void.

Jersey Shore features the district’s top-ranked defense and was allowing just 4.9 points per game entering the state semifinals. Adding Peacock to the mix was like pouring gasoline on a raging fire. And while L-S did produce big numbers, Peacock was a major reason the defense slowed it in the second half, allowing just seven points as Jersey Shore overcame three deficits and reached its first state final. In addition to his two sacks, Peacock added five tackles.

“Getting Karter back was huge,” offensive lineman Joe Lorson said. “Karter’s an amazing player and he made amazing plays that helped determine the outcome of the game.”

Peacock has been doing that since his freshman year. One of four standout siblings, Peacock made an immediate impact two years ago while starting on both lines. He made 64 tackles and helped Jersey Shore make enormous in-season strides while winning the first of its three straight district championships.

It was more of the same last year as Peacock recorded 70 tackles, including for nine loss, while adding two sacks as Jersey Shore reached the state semifinals for the first time. Peacock seemed poised for a potential all-state season this year and helped Jersey Shore allow just seven points its first two games before the hamstring injury left him sidelined.

It was a frustrating experience, but Peacock did all he could to continue supporting the team. Friday Peacock could do a lot more then lend moral support and the frustration of seven missed games disappeared as Peacock helped Jersey Shore make history.

“It’s like things happen for a reason,” Peacock said. “I was cheering them on the whole time on the sideline and to come back and play with them means a lot.”

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is strong and quick while also featuring good moves up front. His success the first two seasons only fueled his competitive fire more and he unleashed it on both the field and in the locker room.

Peacock closed the first half with a sack which ended a L-S late scoring threat. Still, the Pioneers had been moving the ball at will and led, 28-21 at halftime. Peacock was not happy and he let the team know more was required.

“He was the one that fired up everyone at at halftime. He got it started. He came in livid,” cornerback Cayden Hess said. “He got us fired up and we came out and did the same thing we do in every third and fourth quarter and showed that Bulldog tough mentality.”

Peacock talked the talk and walked the walk. The defensive line dominated throughout the second half, frequently hurrying standout quarterback Sean McTaggart and forcing a series of hurried, off-target throws. That relentless pressure helped produce two second-half interceptions, the first which Dalton Dugan returned for a touchdown and the second by Hess which ended L-S’s last scoring chance.

Peacock fit like a glove along side Dugan, Samar, Webb and Quincey Myers. Individually, Peacock provided a big spark. Together, that unit helped produce a historic win.

Peacock never stopped believing he could return this season. Missing the previous seven games hurt, but returning Friday meant everything. So does the example he sets each day, one that has helped Jersey Shore become one of the state’s two best Class AAAA football teams.

“Peacock is the hardest worker. I’ve never that kid not try his hardest,” Hess said. “He did a great job. He played a great game coming back.”

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