WILLIAMSPORT — After spotting Williamsport a 7-0 lead thanks to a long return on the opening kickoff, Berwick found itself in a much more competitive game than people expected for most of the first half Friday night.
Leading 13-7 with just over three minutes left before halftime, Berwick’s big players stepped up and took over. The Bulldogs scored twice in a two-minute span to seize control and put the game away as they cruised to a 48-7 win.
“It started on the kickoff,” Berwick coach George Curry said. “You can’t give a team who is not in our league that kind of momentum right off the bat. We were shocked, and they weren’t. They were fired up.”
Takeem Carter fielded a pooch kickoff at his own 30 and brook loose down the right sideline for a 57-yard kickoff return. Williamsport (2-5) took the brief lead when Isaac Foust capped off the short scoring drive with a 3-yard run up the middle to paydirt.
Berwick (7-0) didn’t take long to answer, due in large part to the play of Dain Kowalski. The senior returned the ensuing kickoff 31 yards to give the Bulldogs good field position. Using heavy run formations, Berwick gave the ball to Kowalski on all five plays on a drive that evened the score and started a run of 48 unanswered points. His last carry on the possession resulted in a 2-yard scoring run off left tackle.
“One thing we do, when we get angry, we just smashmouth people,” George Curry said. “We’re going to lineup and bring them to their knees. Then we can do what we want. That’s what happens.”
Williamsport threatened to score again later in the opening period. Tanner Bashnick hauled in a 37-yard pass from Dale Berkheimer that moved the ball to the Berwick 22. Facing a 4th-and-8 from the 10, Berkheimer was sacked by Jorden Stout ending the last serious scoring threat of the game for the Millionaires.
Berwick grabbed the lead for good early in the second quarter on a one-play drive that was set up by Kowalski’s interception of Berkheimer. Kowalski took a pitch from C.J Curry and raced around left end for a 5-yard touchdown run.
“Dain is a tough kid, George Curry said. “He’s just a hard-nosed, blue collar type of kid. He’ll block, catch and run. He’s on the kickoff return team. He’s on the punt return team. He’s a defensive back. He doesn’t come out of the game.”
Facing a 3rd-and-20, Curry used a pump fake that got the Williamsport secondary to bite. Andrew Force got behind the defense and caught a 60-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 19-7.
“That was designed for Force to go out and up,” C.J. Curry said. “It was kind of soggy on the field. We know Force is a very good receiver and he could get a double move on him and go. That’s just what he did. He got open.”
On Williamsport’s next series, Stout made the second of his three quarterback sacks and forced a fumble that was recovered by A.J. Vandermark. Again, Berwick would need just one play to put points on the board. Curry lofted a pass into the waiting arms of Vandermark, who was wide open on a 38-yard touchdown pass that made the score 27-7 at halftime.
“He’s a hell of a receiver,” Curry said of Vandermark. “He’s a hammer. He’s the toughest kid on our team. People don’t realize how well he can run, and he’s got great hands.”
Berwick 48, Williamsport 7
WIL — Isaac Foust 4 run (Tyler Gardner kick) 9:47
BER — Dain Kowalski 2 run (Olivia Seely kick) 7:32
BER — Kowalski 5 run (kick failed) 10:05
BER — Andrew Force 60 pass from C.J. Curry (run failed) 3:23
BER — A.J. Vandermark 38 pass from Curry (Kowalski run) 1:21
BER —Kowalski 2 run (Kowalski run) 8:43
BER — Nick Talanca 4 run (Seely kick) 2:22
BER — Talanca 2 run (run failed) 6:11
RUSHING — BER, Dain Kowalski 10-81, Nick Talanca 4-28, C.J Curry 8-27, Daquan Hellenthal 4-27, Jorden Stout 4-20. WIL, Isaac Foust 16-58, Justin Hoffman 4-8, Javon Brown 1-2, Christian Diggs 2-(minus-15), Dale Berkheimer 3-(minus-26).
PASSING — BER, Curry 9-14-0-168; WIL, Berkheimer 5-7-1-63, Diggs 1-6-0-0.
RECEIVING — BER, Andrew Force 3-85, A.J. Vandermark 1-38, Trevon Simmons 1-16, Ian Mazonkey 1-12, Kowalski 1-7, Paul Jay Wiegand 1-5, Kyle Trenholm 1-5. WIL, Tanner Bashnick 2-42, Nick Manzitti 1-10, Jed Chestnut 1-6, Hoffman 1-5, Takeem Carter 1-0.
INTERCEPTIONS — BER, Kowalski.
MISSED FGs — None.