That pass interference penalty that never was last Saturday in Berwick’s 14-13 victory over Crestwood in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals received a lot of buzz the following few days.
For those who didn’t hear about it, Crestwood had a fourth-and-23 with 34 seconds left and the ball at Berwick’s 37-yard line. Quarterback Jay Popson launched a pass to receiver Lance Blass, who went up for the ball as a Berwick player banged into him. The back judge pulled the penalty flag out of the front of his pants a few inches and then decided not to throw it.
Game over, season over for Crestwood.
Crestwood coach Greg Myers, though, said something afterward that was quite true. The game should have never came down to getting new life via penalty, an infraction under high school rule that wouldn’t have given the Comets a first down. Just a fourth-and-8.
Crestwood dominated the game, but close contests often come down to a half-dozen plays. Those plays all went against the Comets. Here are the key ones:
• The negated touchdown. Running back Frank Aigeldinger picked his way through traffic for a 56-yard TD early in the second quarter that would have given Crestwood a 12-0 lead. Instead, an illegal motion penalty on the other side of the ball took the points off the board.
• The interception. On the next play following the nullified touchdown, Popson threw a pass to receiver Connor Sheloski that would have resulted in a first down. Sheloski appeared to have the ball when he was tackled to the turf by Berwick’s Dain Kowalski. Kowalski, though, ended up with the ball as the two players lay on the field. Berwick was awarded the interception, although the play could have gone either way.
• The TD pass. Berwick couldn’t move the ball in the first half, but finally got Crestwood in a defensive alignment that resulted in a 51-yard touchdown grab by Kyle Trenholm just before halftime. Berwick overloaded one side with receivers and had Trenholm alone on the right. Trenholm beat single coverage for the touchdown.
• The third-down conversion. Berwick was 0-for-6 on third-down until finally getting one in the fourth quarter. The Dawgs faced a third-and-13 after a sack by Crestwood’s Frank Cordeiro. Yet Berwick quarterback C.J. Curry was able to hook up for a 22-yard gain to receiver Paul Jay Wiegand. That kept the eventual game-winning drive alive.
• The penalty. There was a reason Crestwood faced a fourth-and-23 late in the game. The Comets had the ball on the Berwick 24 with a first-and-10. But a holding penalty on a running play resulted in a first-and-26 from the 40.
With under two minutes to play and the element of the run all but gone, Berwick knew what was coming.
There are a few other examples, plays that might be forgotten because of the non-call on the alleged pass interference. Football rarely comes down to one play, and the official not throwing the flag shouldn’t be the difference between a win and a loss.
FIGHT, TEAM, FIGHT
Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia took that concept a bit too far last Friday in its game against Overbrook.
According to a story on philly.com, a fight broke out just after Edison returned to the field after halftime. A fight that involved Edison players … and just Edison players. Two threw punches at each other before other players intervened.
The Edison assistant athletic director then decided it was best to end the game at that point with Overbrook ahead 22-0.
Edison (1-9) has been shut out in five of its last six games.
Again, it’s a very limited schedule. The only District 2 title game set to be televised is the Class A contest — Old Forge at Dunmore. WQMY will have the game at 7 p.m. Friday.
WQMY will also televise a first-round state game on Nov. 22.
Remember, the UNICO All-Star Classic will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at Lake-Lehman High School. The teams are scheduled to begin practice next week. The West could be shorthanded if Berwick and Lake-Lehman win this weekend.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Wyoming Valley West senior receiver Mike Sands has 990 receiving yards entering Friday’s D2-4A championship game. If he gets 10 more, and there is little doubt he will, he will be the first Spartans player to finished with at least 1,000 receiving yards since 2002 when Jim Jordan finished with 1,015 in 10 games. Valley West didn’t qualify for the postseason that year.
WVC VS. LFC
It wasn’t a good year for WVC teams when they played against their Lackawanna Conference counterparts. Lackawanna won 21 of the 34 head-to-head matchups during the regular season.
Only four WVC teams finished undefeated against Lackawanna teams — Northwest (3-0), Crestwood (2-0), Wyoming Valley West (2-0) and Coughlin (1-0). Northwest had its season come to an end against Lackawanna power Old Forge in the D2-A semifinals last Friday.
Based on last year’s state bracket and how the PIAA has conducted state tournaments in the past, it appears only the D2-2A champion will be playing in the area next weekend against the District 11 champ.
If Lake-Lehman wins the D2-2A title, a likely site will be Wyoming Valley West’s Spartan Stadium, where GAR hosted D11 champ Pen Argyl in 2011. If Lakeland wins, then Valley View High School is a probable site.
The D2-2A champion would then have two road games until reaching the title contest. Of course, that’s assuming it keeps winning.
The D2-3A champion has the toughest road to the state title, with all three games expected to be on the road. The first game, against the D11 champion, will probably be in the Allentown/Bethlehem area.
The D2-A champ will play inside District 4 in its state opener. Then it would be two more road games until the title contest, provided it keeps winning. The last four times the D2-A champ played D4-A champ on the road the game was at Shamokin High School, one of the hardest places in the world to find.
HOW THEY FARED
Three of the four defending state champions will be playing this weekend.
Class 4A champion North Allegheny was bounced from the WPIAL (District 7) playoffs by unbeaten Upper St. Clair 41-23 last week.
Class 3A champ Erie Cathedral Prep (10-0) had a bye in last weekend’s District 10 playoffs. It plays Oil City on Friday.
Wyomissing, the defending Class 2A champion, finished its regular season at 5-5. The Spartans (6-5) play Littlestown (11-0) on Friday in the District 3 semifinals.
Defending Class A champ Clairton (9-1) had its 66-game winning streak, the longest in the nation at the time, snapped this season by Monessen 42-24. The Bears, though, are still alive for a fifth consecutive state title. They play Sto-Rox on Friday in the WPIAL semifinals.