MOSCOW — Berwick’s defense did its job in the second half. The offense, though, failed to show up Friday night.
Berwick’s inability to capitalize on second-half opportunities spelled doom for the Dawgs as North Pocono captured the District 2 Class 4A championship with a 21-6 victory.
North Pocono (10-3) will play the District 12 champion next weekend in the state quarterfinals. Imhotep Charter (10-0) plays Cardinal O’Hara (10-0) at 5 p.m. Saturday for the D12 title. The Trojans also won their second District 2 title, the other coming in 1993 at the Class 3A level.
The win also gave the Lackawanna Football Conference a sweep off all six District 2 championships.
“This community deserves a championship. I’m just so happy,” North Pocono coach Greg Dolhon said. “He’s a great defensive coach, (Berwick) coach (Frank) Sheptock. Congrats to them for a great season, what a great program. They were coming off edges and stalling out our run game, but we just had to hang in there with our running backs.”
Berwick finished the season 8-5. The game marked the first time Berwick failed to score a touchdown in the last 101 games dating back to the Dawgs’ 3-0 victory over Abington Heights in 2009 D2-3A championship.
North Pocono did what was expected in the first half. The Trojans ran the ball and got a 62-yard touchdown run from tailback Matt Craig and a 1-yard scoring run from fullback Tyler Musgrave. All Berwick could produced a 30-yard field goal by Ken Marshman.
The Trojans 201 yards of offense in the first half, all coming on the ground. They managed just 67 more yards over the final two quarters, yet Berwick couldn’t take advantage of some excellent field position to punch one over the goal line.
Berwick’s first big opportunity came early in the third quarter when safety Anthony Cicini stepped in front of a pass by North Pocono’s Danny Blaine — his first throw of the game — and returned it 19 yards to the North Pocono 30-yard line. Berwick quarterback Jared Marshman was sacked on first down, threw two incompletions and was sacked again on fourth down to end the threat.
“That’s the one where I’m kicking myself in the tail,” Sheptock said. “Maybe we should have just pounded the rock there. We wanted to stretch them a little vertical there. You’re always 100 percent right when you’re second guessing yourself. We had a great opportunity there. We came out of the locker room and Ant made a great play.
“Even when we were down here on the 5-yard line we had to punch one in. We had our chances, but their defense stepped up when they had to.”
Sheptock was referring to Berwick’s second possession of the third quarter. The Dawgs moved from their 6-yard line to North Pocono’s 6 in 13 plays, with running back Len Wyda doing most of the rushing. Wyda was stopped for no gain twice, and the Dawgs settled for another field goal to cut the deficit to 14-6.
“We made it a one-score game, so you’re back in the game,” Sheptock said. “The thing that I think took a little wind out of our sails was Matt Craig’s kickoff return.”
Craig returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards, with a touchdown-saving tackle by Harrison Kuchka stopping him at the Berwick 16. The Trojans didn’t score, but Berwick could only manage to get to its 29 after taking over, with a 17-yard holding penalty wiping out a first down at North Pocono’s 43.
The Trojans then ate up five minutes of the clock in the fourth quarter before Craig scored from 3 yards out with 2:08 to play.
“We got that big kick return. The guys opened a big hole,” said Craig, who rushed for a game-high 186 yards on 28 carries. “We knew we had to score to take the wind out of them and we did just that.”
Berwick was able to get deep into North Pocono territory as Jared Marshman completed his first passes of the game on the Dawgs’ final possession. The faint hopes for a comeback ended with an interception by North Pocono’s Danny Walsh at the Trojans 5.
District 2 Class 4A Championship
North Pocono 21, Berwick 6
NP — Matt Craig 62 run (Bryce Taylor kick), 8:00
BER — Ken Marshman 30 FG, 3:55
NP — Tyler Musgrave 1 run (Taylor kick), 1:59
BER — K.Marshman 22 FG, 11:55
NP — Craig 3 run (Taylor kick), 2:08
RUSHING — Berwick, Len Wyda 26-126, Jared Marshman 16-61. North Pocono,,Tyler Musgrave 15-85, Matt Craig 28-186,,Donny Blaine 1-0, team 2-(minus-3)
PASSING — Berwick, J.Marshman 4-12-1-56. North Pocono, Blaine 0-3-1-0
RECEIVING — Berwick, Matt Champ 1-9, Wyda 1-7, Mike Force 1-21, Damon Beckhorn 1-19. North Pocono, none.
INTERCEPTIONS — Berwick, Anthony Cicini 1-19. North Pocono, Danny Walsh 1-11.
MISSED FGs — None.