BERWICK — All week long, Devon Weidman and his Wyoming Valley West teammates endured the tales about how dangerous Berwick’s vaunted defense can be.
He got sick of it.
Then Weidman decided to do something about it.
Weidman scored two touchdowns Friday helped put Valley West’s defense on display, too, when he picked off two passes as the Spartans battered Berwick 34-6 in a battle of Wyoming Valley Conference unbeatens at Crispin Field.
“Everybody was talking about Berwick’s defense,” Weidman groaned. “We just came out and showed them we can play, too.”
Stunned them, is more like it.
Less than a minute after Valley West fumbled away its first possession on a punt attempt in its own end zone for Berwick’s only touchdown, Weidman struck back.
He sprinted 64 yards down the right sideline foir a toucdown on Valley West’s fifth offensive play, and the Spartans were off and running.
“I saw (receiver Sean) Judge and (tight end) L.J. (Wesneski) blocking,” Weidman said. “I was moving. I took it to the end.”
It turned out that was the end of Berwick’s victory hopes for the night.
Valley West kept stinging the Bulldogs with one big play after another, leaving Berwick’s vaunted defense looking helpless at times and frustrating two scoring attempts with key defensive stops.
After a promising 64-yard Berwick march ended with a missed field goal, Valley West came back with Aaron Austin’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Wesneski for a 14-6 advantage at halftime.
And when Judge opened the second half by dashing 60 yards for a touchdown, the Spartans were starting to cruise with a 21-6 lead.
Judge appeared to be stopped at least three times on the play, but he knifed through two Berwick tacklers at the 20-yard line, then ran out of a diving tackle from behind to cover the final six yards of the scoring run.
Berwick desperately tried to recover, pouncing on Valley West’s onside kick attempt and promptly taking the ball to Valley West’s 9-yard line. But a key penalty killed that drive, and when quarterback Austin took off on a 30-yard scramble into Berwick territory, the Spartans were back in business.
“I thought he broke out tonight,” Valley West coach Pat Keating said of Austin, who hit 12 of his 16 passes for 126 yards, threw two scoring strikes and scrambled for 70 rushing yards. “It’s only his fourth game as a starter. He made plays — with his arm, with his legs, big plays.”
Austin beat a blitz with a 21-yard pass to running back Bill Davison later in the drive, and Davison capped off the back-breaking 94-yard touchdown drive with a four-yard touchdown run for a 27-6 Spartans lead in the third quarter.
For good measure, Weidman followed up by interception a Berwick pass from his defensive backfield position, then grabbing a pretty 26-yard strike from Austin in the back of the end zone to close the scoring with 9:24 to play.
“Devon’s a hell of a player,” said Keating, whose high-powered offensive team stormed to a 4-0 start. “He’s a very athletic, very tough kid, very strong. I think he played one heck of a game, both sides of the ball.”
Weidman wasn’t finished leaving his imprint, as he came up with his second interception - catching the ball with his knees while laying on the ground - to thwart Berwick’s next offensive attempt.
“I practice a lot on my backpedaling, my defense,” Weidman said. “I just know the way I play. I practice like that, I play like this every time.”
That could be scary for the rest of the Wyoming Valley Conference, since Valley West’s defense held Berwick to 63 rushing yards, 84 passing yards and without an offensive touchdown.
“It’s a big win for us,” Weidman said.
Wyoming Valley West 34, Berwick 6
Wyo. Valley West`7`7`13`7`—`34
BER - Luke Fisher fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed), 8:36
WVW - Devon Weidman 64 run (Jake Gurtis kick), 7:40
WVW - L.J. Wisneski 14 pass from Aaron Austin (Gurtis kick), 2:15
WVW - Sean Judge 60 run (Gurtis kick), 9:24
WVW - Bill Davison 4 run (kick failed), 0:03
WVW - Weidman 26 pass from Austin (Gurtis kick), 9:24
RUSHING — WVW, Sean Judge 9-79, Aaron Austin 11-70, Devon Weidman 1-64, Bill Davison 8-36, Michael Baird 6-25, Zach Davies 1- (minus 2), TEAM 1- (minus 22); BER, Mike Force 7-32, Anthony Cecini 5-28, Len Wyda 4-15, Matt Shannon 5-10, Harrison Kochka 1-0, TEAM 1- (minus 9), Jared Marshman 4- (minus 13).
PASSING — WVW, Austin 12-16-0-126; BER, Force 7-12-0-47, Marshman 2-5-2-37.
RECEIVING — WVW, L.J. Wesneski 5-40, Davison 3-49, Weidman 2-27, Judge 2-10.
INTERCEPTIONS — WVW, Weidman 2-22.
MISSED FGs — BER, Jordan DiVelario, 28 yards, second quarter, wide left