BERWICK — Kyle Trenholm provided the spark and Jorden Stout kept stoking the fire.
Together, the two Berwick seniors were the impetus for a dominant second half as the Dawgs rallied to defeat Abington Heights 35-28 Saturday for the District 2 Class 3A championship.
The victory gave Berwick (12-0) its first district title since 2008 and 10th in school history. The Dawgs will play the District 11 champion next weekend at a District 11 site in the PIAA Class 3A first round. Abington, last year’s D2-3A champion, ended its year at 10-2.
The Comets led 14-7 at halftime, with running back Quinn Karam’s 1-yard run at 8:01 of the second quarter giving them the advantage. Berwick scored on its opening possession — on a 1-yard run by Stout — but the rest of the Dawgs’ first-half performance was rather bland.
That changed on the kickoff to start the third quarter. The ball appeared heading out of bounds after a big hop, but Trenholm decided to field it at the 9-yard line. He then darted down the right sideline — only running significantly to his left once to shoot through a hole — and scored.
“I was just trying to make a big play,” Trenholm said. “I saw it was going to go out of bounds, but I just had a good feeling about it. My blockers made a huge hole for me and I just hit it.”
Olivia Seely’s point-after tied the score 14-14. But if the scoreboard kept track of momentum, Berwick would have been the runaway leader.
“That broke the game open,” Berwick coach George Curry said. “We were down 14-7. I said right before we left (the locker room), ‘Hey guys, we need a play.’ I never thought it would be a kick return. ‘We need a play to get our fans into it and to get you into it. Now let’s go. Somebody make a play.’”
Stout made plenty of them in the second half. The 230-pound fullback had just four carries for 11 yards in the first half. He finished with 22 carries for 136 yards — both easily career highs.
“I never had a 100-yard game,” said Stout, who had 66 rushing attempts this season entering the game. “Against Hazleton, I had 99 yards.”
Stout wasn’t told at halftime that his workload was going to increase substantially. He made the most of the opportunity, scoring on a 7-yard run at 3:23 of the third that gave Berwick the lead for good.
“I didn’t know a thing,” Stout said. “You really don’t know with (Curry).”
Curry, though, saw something in Abington’s defensive alignment that indicated his Dawgs could run the ball between the tackles in the second half.
“Yes. Exactly. The first half we were going this way too much,” said Curry, gesturing with his hand that Berwick doing too much sideline-to-sideline running. “Double teams. Wedge. Knock’em. To play smashmouth football, you just got to buckle your chin strap and let’s go.”
Oddly, Berwick increased its lead to 28-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 21-yard TD run around right end by Nate Maczuga. Abington cut the deficit to 28-21 with 9:40 to play when quarterback J.C. Show whipped a pass downfield just before stepping out of bounds for a 64-yard TD to Joe Carroll.
Berwick, though, deviated from its run-first mindset to pump its lead back to two touchdowns. Quarterback C.J. Curry threw just six passes — a season-low for him — but that sixth attempt was a beauty. Receiver Andrew Force initially started downfield by running a post pattern. He broke it off and headed to the left corner where Curry dropped in a 24-yard touchdown pass.
“I could care less if I throw a pass all game,” Curry said. “It feels awesome right now.”
Again, the Comets rallied within a touchdown on a 13-yard TD catch by Nate Hollander with 4:56 left. They never saw the ball again as Berwick ran out the clock using a heavy dose of Stout.
“They were able to move the ball effectively on the ground and take time off the clock and keep the ball out of our offense’s hands,” Abington coach Joe Resphis said.
Bethlehem Catholic (7-4) and Southern Lehigh (10-1) played Saturday night for the D11 title.
District 2 Class 3A Championship
Berwick 35, Abington Heights 28
BER — Jorden Stout 1 run (Olivia Seely kick), 7:19
AH — Joe Acrangelo 4 pass from J.C. Show (Colin McCreary kick), 5:29
AH — Quinn Karam 1 run (McCreary kick), 8:01
BER — Kyle Trenholm 91 kick return (Seely kick), 11:47
BER — Stout 7 run (Seely kick), 3:23
BER — Nate Maczuga 21 run (Seely kick), 11:54
AH — Joe Carroll 63 pass from Show (McCreary kick), 9:40
BER — Andrew Force 24 pass from C.J. Curry (Seely kick), 5:44
AH — Nate Hollander 13 pass from Show (McCreary kick), 4:56
RUSHING — Abington, Karam 10-21, Show 8-7, Hollander 7-67. Berwick, Dain Kowalski 16-98, Stout 22-136, Curry 5-6, Trenholm 1-9, Nick Talanca 1-2, Daquan Hellenthal 1-(minus-2), Maczuga 1-21, team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING — Abington, Show 15-28-0-221. Berwick Curry 4-6-1-40.
RECEIVING — Abington, Hollander 4-63, Sean Rock 3-20, Arcangela 2-22, Carroll 4-89, Karam 1-11, Jake Henzes 1-16. Berwick, Ian Mazonkey 3-16, Force 1-24.
INTERCEPTIONS — Abington, Kyle Tierney 1-24.
MISSED FGs — none.