Dawgs unleash defense on Wyoming Area
WEST PITTSTON — That opening drive couldn’t have gone better for Wyoming Area on Friday night.
The Warriors went 87 yards on 18 plays, scoring on a 10-yard TD catch by Justin Joseph.
Then the Wyoming Area offense disappeared.
Berwick’s defense limited Wyoming Area to 18 more yards in the half and the offense did its job and the Dawgs rolled to a 38-6 victory in a District 2 Class 4A semifinal game.
Berwick (8-4) will head to its fifth consecutive district championship game and will play at North Pocono (9-3) for the championship next Friday. North Pocono is going for a district title for the first time since 1994. Wyoming Area ended its year at 9-3.
The Warriors escaped the quarterfinals with a 13-12 victory over a two-win Dallas squad. So the opening drive, which included two fourth-down conversions, was a welcomed sight. Berwick, though, didn’t panic.
“Various times throughout the season we’ve been down and out,” Berwick strong safety Anthony Cicini said. “But we try to make it a point in the playoffs to finish strong and fight through the adversity and come together as a team. I think that’s what we did.”
Berwick responded with a 15-play scoring drive to answer Wyoming Area’s score. And there was adversity. The Dawgs opened the possession with two penalties. Quarterback Jared Marshman missed a handoff on a fourth-and-1 yet recovered with a 6-yard run. He later plowed in for a yard out, and cousin Ken Marshman’s extra point gave Berwick a 7-6 lead.
“We had the opportunity to make some plays,” Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said. “The ball was on the ground a couple times. We had a fourth d0wn stop potentially that Marshman escaped and did a nice job converting on that.
“We had a few opportunities to stem the tide, but they did a nice job of being consistent and holding onto the momentum.”
Once the momentum was ceased, Berwick didn’t let go. The Dawgs went on a 55-yard scoring drive — aided by an extremely rare defensive clipping call — to score again with 2:11 left until halftime on a 5-yard run by Len Wyda. Ken Marshman added a 22-yard field goal with two seconds remaining until the break to bump the lead to 17-6.
Jared Marshman finished the first half 6 of 8 for 123 yards as Berwick outgained Wyoming Area 181-18 after the Warriors’ touchdown.
“I don’t think we were too worried about them going down and scoring because I knew our defense would pick it up right after that drive,” Jared Marshman said. “And I have all the confidence in the world in our offense, so I wasn’t too worried about it.”
Berwick coach Frank Sheptock was concerned how his special teams play in a 34-20 loss to Wyoming Area in Week 3. The unit eased his worries to start the second half, pinning Wyoming Area at their 14-yard line on the kickoff to open the third quarter. A Berwick punt forced another drive to start at the 4-yard line.
And after Jared Marshman made it 24-6 with four minutes left in the third quarter, great kick coverage gave Wyoming Area the ball at the 19. The Warriors crossed midfield twice in the second half.
“I’m extremely proud of the effort of our players because it was a very dominant effort,” Sheptock said. “They dominated us the first game. And to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball was very pleasing. The kids played extremely well.”
District 2 Class 4A Semifinal
Berwick 38, Wyoming Area 6
WA — Justin Joseph 10 pass from PJ Angeli (kick failed), 0:38
BER — Jared Marshman 1 run (Ken Marshman kick), 7:02
BER — Len Wyda 5 run (K.Marshman kick), 2:11
BER — K.Marshman 22 FG, 0:02
BER — Jared Marshman 1 run (K.Marshman kick), 4:00
BER — Damon Beckhorn 42 run (K.Marshman kick), 11:50
BER — Thomas Smith 15 run (K.Marshman kick), 4:20
RUSHING — Berwick, Wyda 20-101, J.Marshman 14-46, Evan Klinger 4-14, Beckhorn 1-42, Smith 13-65, Alex Force 1-1, team 1-(minus-2). Wyoming Area, Brian Miles 16-73, Angeli 10-29, Joseph 4-7, Marc Minichello 2-0, Donovan O’Boyle 3-36, Jesse Cegelka 2-12.
PASSING — Berwick, J.Marshman 6-8-0-123. Wyoming Area, Angeli 5-5-0-45, Miles 1-1-0-15, Steve Homza 3-6-1-14.
RECEIVING — Berwick, Matt Champ 1-18, Beckhorn 1-6, Mike Force 2-63, Wyda 2-36. Wyoming Area, Minichello 3-29, Homza 1-9, Anthony Saitta 2-21, Joseph 1-10, Dante Delucca 1-(minus-1), Miles 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS — Berwick, Beckhorn 1-0.
MISSED FGs — None.