KINGSTON — Berwick used quality over quantity to build a 10-point lead at halftime Friday night.
The Dawgs then traded in quality for dominance in the second half to defeat Wyoming Valley West 40-24 in a Wyoming Valley Conference interdivisional game at Spartan Stadium.
Berwick (3-0) ran just 16 offensive plays in the first half compared to 40 by Valley West (2-1). Yet, thanks to a 49-yard TD run by Owen Shoemaker, where he showed remarkable balance to cover the final five yards, and a 82-yard kickoff return touchdown by Aiden Mason, Berwick led 27-17 at the break.
“We looked at that at halftime,” Berwick coach Frank Sheptock said. “We had 16 plays, but we were productive. I think the offense did a good job when we had the ball. We work very hard on our kickoff return. We ran one back against Abington, and it’s really been creating field position for us.”
Ah, field position. Valley West had none of it in the second half. The Spartans started possession from their 5- (twice), 13-, 18-, 20- and 25-yard lines. They didn’t cross midfield until 3:25 of the fourth quarter and after the game was in the hands of the reserves.
Valley West had 182 yards in the first half and 109 in the second, with 87 of them coming on a late fourth-quarter scoring drive by the backups.
“They gave us a lot of formations, a lot of things going on,” Sheptock said. “They’re a tough team to defend. They give you so many shifts and motions and they’re unbalanced. You have to recognize all of those things. And then with the play-action.”
Berwick also got a pair of second-half interceptions from Teagan Wilk, who returned his first one 34 yards for a touchdown only to have it wiped out by a penalty.
Valley West battled back from two seven-point deficits to tie the score 14-14 at 7:30 of the second quarter when quarterback Jake Shusta hit tight end Jorge Pina down the left hashmark for a 24-yard touchdown. Mason, though, answered back with his kick return touchdown.
Then after the Spartans cut the deficit to 21-17 on a 31-yard field goal by Adam Sivak, Berwick’s Antonio Baratta returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to set up a four-play, 20-yard drive for a 27-17 advantage.
“We basically spotted them two scores in the first half,” Valley West coach Pat Keating said. “You can’t do that against a really good football team. And then in the second half, offensively we couldn’t get anything going. A penalty, something to pin us deep inside our 5-yard line. We just didn’t help ourselves out. Against a group that’s this good, you can’t keep going second-and-long, third-and-long and be successful.”
Berwick scored on its first possession of the third quarter on a 13-yard run by Shoemaker to bump the lead to 34-17. Wilk added a 15-yard TD run on the third play of the fourth quarter for a 40-17 lead. He set up the drive with an over-the-head interception. His first pick came when he raced in a plucked the ball at his cleats.
Reach John Erzar at 570-991-6394 or on Twitter @TLJohnErzar