BERWICK – Berwick entered Friday's regular season finale already with a playoff berth in the District 2 Class 3A tournament already wrapped up.
That didn't stop the Dawgs from showing how dominant they can be in a phenomenal performance against Hazleton Area.
Berwick held the Cougars to just 87 total yards while piling up 388 of their own in a 49-7 manhandling at Crispin Field.
We came out with the mindset that we need to get this win, said senior tailback Matt Cashman, who scored three touchdowns. This is a big win. We need to just keep feeding off of all this and keep going. It helps us carry the momentum into the playoffs and keep it.
The Dawgs (9-1) will host a District 2 Class 3A playoff game next week. Pending approval from the district, the game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. against a team to be determined.
Their seed and opponent hinges on today's contest between Abington Heights (8-1) and Scranton (9-0). If the Comets win, they are the top seed and Berwick is the second seed. If Scranton wins, Berwick will be the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs will face either Valley View, Dallas or Crestwood.
Now, you're looking at the top teams we're going to be playing, Berwick coach George Curry said.
Right from the start of Friday's game Berwick dominated, forcing the Cougars to punt on the opening drive, then eating up seven minutes on its first possession capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Cashman for a 7-0 lead with 2:45 left in the first quarter.
The rest of the first half was just as convincing in favor of the Dawgs.
The Cougars, who end their season with a 1-9 record, didn't get a first down until late in the second quarter, going three-and-out on their first three drives and trailing 22-0 at that point. When they finally did get a first down on their fourth possession, the next play resulted in a fumble. Quarterback Julius Ward was hit, lost the ball and Berwick's Travis Potter returned the fumble 43 yards for a touchdown and a 29-0 lead with 3:53 left in the second quarter.
Berwick's defense held Hazleton Area to minus-5 yards rushing in the first half and just 23 total yards in the first 24 minutes.
We're playing good ball. We got a good defense, Curry added. We got tough kids. I got some gorillas up front that play well and a linebacker in Travis Potter, that kid's tough. He's got the speed of a DB. He's one of the best I've been around.
Overall on the night, the Dawgs had 252 yards rushing. At times when it seemed like Cashman – or one of the other 10 backs who ran the ball on Friday for Berwick -- would be caught for a minimal gain, the offensive line consisting of Gavin Harter, Brandon Dalberto, Kyle Stearly, Mason Vandermark and others gave an extra plunge, leading to huge gains and first downs. Berwick had 22 first downs to Hazleton Area's four.
Cashman's third TD of the game put the mercy rule into effect, giving the Dawgs a 35-0 lead with 8:39 left in the third quarter. The senior finished with 78 yards on the ground. Nate Maczuga, who only had five carries, notched a game-high 80 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
They're all just doing a fantastic job, Cashman said about his O-line. Our whole offense – Jeff Steeber, Jake Pecorelli – they're amazing athletes and get the job done consistently.
Hazleton Area got a score in the fourth quarter when Jeff Fendrick capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive with a 3-yard TD to trim the lead to 42-7. But the Dawgs answered with Maczuga's score on their next drive to close out the contest.
BER – Matt Cashman 3 run (Olivia Seely kick), 2:45
BER – Cashman 3 run (Cashman run), 9:15
BER – Jeff Steeber 52 pass from C.J. Curry (Seely kick), 4:53
BER – Travis Potter 43 fumble return (Seely kick), 3:53
BER – Cashman 10 run (kick blocked), 8:39
BER – Dallas Arner 15 run (seely kick), 0:07
HAZ – Jeff Fendrick 3 run (Tristan Williams kick), 6:47
BER – Nat Maczuga 49 run (Seely kick), 5:51
|Team Statistics||Haz Area||Berwick|
RUSHING – HAZ, Zach Zukoski 4-(minus-6), Julius Ward 2-(minus-4), Nick George 8-17, Jeff Fendrick 3-13, Devion Barlow 1-36; BER, Matt Cashman 14-78, Jeff Steeber 3-12, C.J. Curry 8-32, Nate Maczuga 5-80, Kyle Trenholm 3-2, Nick Talanca 4-10, Dallas Arner 1-15, Brandon Hughes 1-12, Chris Hampton 1-1, Paul Jay Wiegand 2-8, Chris Snyder 2-2.
PASSING – HAZ, Ward 5-15-1-31; BER, Curry 9-12-1-124, Arner 1-1-0-12
RECEIVING – HAZ, Danny Conahan 2-16, Devion Barlow 2-11, Jeff Ochs 1-4, BER, Jake Pecorelli 3-39, Steeber 4-73, Zach Ladonis 1-8, Jordan Stout 1-4, Trevon Simmons 1-12
INTERCEPTIONS – HAZ, Zack Kehler; BER, Will Mastellar MISSED FIELD GOALS – None