WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Nine games into George Curry‚??s second go-around as Berwick coach and the Dawgs still aren‚??t where they want to be.
But Friday proved they are getting there.
Berwick took away Coughlin‚??s running game for the most part and used an opportunistic offense for a 34-7 Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3A victory.
The Dawgs (8-1) also clinched a District 2 Class 3A playoff berth with the win. Coughlin (5-4) was eliminated from the D2-3A playoff chase, but is still in the running for an Eastern Conference berth.
Berwick established itself on its first possession of the game, driving 60 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown. Quarterback C.J. Curry ended the drive with a 21-yard TD toss across the middle to Andrew Force. The catch continued Force‚??s odd but productive streak as all six of his catches this season have resulted in touchdowns.
‚??My kid can throw,‚?Ě Curry said of his grandson. ‚??We came out with a different set today. We came out with all hot stuff. They tried to blitz us in the first quarter and they couldn‚??t stop us. That was the key. We set the tone and had them off balance.‚?Ě
Berwick made it 12-0 on its next possession as Jeff Steeber scored on a 10-yard run. Steeber also had the big play of the seven-play drive, turning a short toss from Curry into a 25-yard gain.
‚??We were hitting a lot of deep stuff,‚?Ě C.J. Curry said, ‚??and teams started to take that away from us. We were really struggling with our pass game in tough games. So, we worked really hard at practice this week and got the reads down.‚?Ě
The defense also did its job in holding Coughlin‚??s running game to 163 yards, the Crusaders‚?? third lowest rushing total of the season. They came into the game averaging 249.1 rushing yards per game.
Coughlin tailback Zac Evans entered the game as the WVC‚??s leading rusher with 1,385 yards. He finished with 25 on nine carries, missing most of the second half with an injury. The Crusaders managed one scoring drive with quarterback Tim Pilch and fullback Paul Cole doing the running. Wingback Hunter Bednarczyk capped it with a 14-yard touchdown run, cutting Berwick‚??s lead to 20-7 late in the third quarter.
‚??They did a very nice job, their line up front, taking away our running lanes,‚?Ě Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. ‚??We didn‚??t block very well. All week we worked on different (defensive) fronts, they did a nice job with their scheme.
‚??But we have to play a lot better. Hold our blocks more and make things happen.‚?Ě
Coughlin did move the ball at times, but had drives stall at the Berwick 13, 28 and 33 yard lines.
‚??Our defense has come a long way since practicing in the summer,‚?Ě said Berwick defensive back Jake Pecorelli, who knocked down three passes. ‚??It‚??s coming together really well. Our line did a good job stopping the run today. They have a great running back and we seemed to shut him down pretty good.‚?Ě
Berwick‚??s Matt Cashman, who went over 1,000 yards last week, didn‚??t have much running room until the fourth quarter. He broke off scoring runs of 34 and 24 yards to finish with 91 yards on 15 carries.
Berwick 34, Coughlin 7
BER ‚?? Andrew Force 21 pass from C.J. Curry (kick failed), 7:03
BER ‚?? Jeff Steeber 10 run (run failed), 1:55
BER ‚?? C.J. Curry 30 run (Steeber run), 3:53
COU ‚?? Hunter Bednarczyk 14 run (Bednarczyk kick), 0:27
BER ‚?? Matt Cashman 34 run (Brandon Dalberto from Curry), 9:12
BER ‚?? Cashman 24 run (kick failed), 2:15
RUSHING ‚?? Berwick, Cashman 15-91, Curry 14-61, Steeber 6-38, team 2-(minus-2). Coughlin, Zac Evans 9-25, Tim Pilch 14-52, Paul Cole 15-62, Bednarczyk 5-28, team 1-(minus-4).
PASSING ‚?? Berwick, Curry 10-18-0-132. Coughlin, Pilch 6-11-0-88.
RECEIVING ‚?? Berwick, Zach Ladonis 7-66, Force 1-21, Steeber 1-25, Jake Pecorelli 1-20. Coughlin, Anthony Khalife 2-44, Corey Keen 4-24.
INTS ‚?? none.
MISSED FGS ‚?? none.