YATESVILLE – Every opponent knows Berwick has an exceptional running back in Matt Cashman.
Jeff Steeber went from a receiving threat to a great change of pace back, rushing for a season-high 97 yards on 11 attempts – including the game-winning touchdown with 1:13 remaining – as the Bulldogs held off Pittston Area 23-20 in a Wyoming Valley Conference matchup Friday.
It's great. I'll do anything to help the team, Steeber said of taking more turns than usual in the backfield. Our line blocked great. That definitely was the difference.
Steeber had run for 177 yards this season, taking an occasional turn to give Cashman – a 1,000-yard rusher – a break. But Friday, Steeber found holes in the Patriots defense consistently.
The senior took a pitch to the left to convert a third-and-29 late in the first half. And he had 65 yards already when the Bulldogs (7-1) got the ball back after a Pittston Area punt at the Patriots' 39 with 4:06 remaining.
Steeber took an end around to the right for 18 yards on the first snap of the game-winning drive in the rain. On second-and-goal from the 12, he took a pitch around the right side for a touchdown to give Berwick a 23-20 lead after Cashman's second two-point run of the night.
It got pretty rough, Steeber said of running in the mud. You've got to take small, choppy steps to keep from slipping. But hey, a win's a win.
Jeff was amazing for us in the fourth quarter, running the ball, evading tackles, Cashman said.
Cashman ran 29 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns, as the most effective offensive weapon for Berwick. Two plays after the Patriots (3-5) took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, he went over the left side into the Pittston Area secondary.
Cashman was sandwiched by two Patriots, each of whom bounced off him in a different direction. He then outran the rest of the defense for a 52-yard score and a 15-14 Berwick lead.
We're mudders. We like to play in anything, Cashman said. Our team showed its heart and soul to fight for this game.
Pittston Area's Joe Starinsky was the Patriots' do-all on this night. He had three touchdown catches among his seven receptions for 177 yards. He was untouched on scores of 32 and 51 yards in the first half as Bulldogs slipped trying to grab him for a tackle.
In the third quarter, quarterback James Emmett looked to his right before throwing down the left sideline for Starinsky on a 27-yard TD to give the Patriots a 20-15 lead.
He's an awesome athlete, Cashman said of Starinsky. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes to a pretty good college next season.
He also had an interception that he returned 28 yards and five tackles. His biggest stop came on fourth-and-2 at the Pittston Area 16, as he filled a hole and took down Cashman for no gain with 5:39 remaining to protect the Patriots' five-point lead.
Travis Potter had two of Berwick's three sacks and Tanner Weaver had three tackles for loss, including a sack.
B – Matt Cashman 4 run (Olivia Seely kick), 9:28
PA – Joe Starinsky 32 pass from Kyle Gattuso (R.J Haas kick), 9:44
PA – Starinsky 51 pass from James Emmett (Haas kick), 6:03
B – Cashman 52 run (Cashman run), 4:50
PA – Starinsky 27 pass from Emmett (kick failed), 7:16
B – Jeff Steeber 12 run (Cashman run), 1:13
|Team Statistics||Berwick||Pitt Area|
RUSHING – BER, Cashman 29-178, Steeber 11-97, C.J. Curry 7-(-20), Team 4-(-5); PA, Justin Wilk 4-18, Marc Romanczuk 3-13, Kyle Gattuso 9-13, Jordan Houseman 2-(-2), James Emmett 6-(-16).
PASSING – BER, Curry 7-19-1-50; PA, Emmett 7-21-2-143, Gattuso 2-4-1-50, Romanczuk 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – BER, Jake Pecorelli 4-36, Steeber 2-14, Brandon Dalberto 1-0; PA, Starinsky 7-177, Mike Chisdock 2-16.
INTS – BER, Pecorelli 1-10, Zach Ladonis 1-4, Will Masteller 1-0; PA, Starinsky 1-28.
MISSED FGS – None.