BERWICK — Those black shirts worn by many Wyoming Valley West students had a message on them for the football team — Strive For Five.
Berwick had another motto Friday night — No More After Four.
The Dawgs used a strong running game in the second half to snap a four-game losing streak to Valley West with a 42-28 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference interdivisional football game at Crispin Field.
Berwick (4-0) hadn’t defeated the Spartans (3-1) since 2008. The Dawgs were embarrassed in last year’s meeting 33-15.
“To reverse the curse my senior year,” Berwick left tackle Kyle Stearley said, “it’s a dream.”
Stearley and the big boys up front turned the contest in the second half. Berwick threw only four times in the second half while running the ball 31 times.
Running back Dain Kowalski, who lost a fumble on his second carry of the game and rushed just one more time in the first half, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to help the Dawgs pull away. Kowalski’s 20-yard TD run with 4:03 to play gave Berwick a 42-21 lead and sent many of the black-shirt crew to the exits. He finished with 65 yards on 11 carries.
Berwick also utilized fullback Jorden Stout quite often in the second half. He had six of his eight rushes over the final two quarters.
“I thought we had a better line and I thought we were more physical,” Berwick coach George Curry said. “We played physical. They’re big, but I thought we had a little more quickness.”
That fact didn’t escape Valley West coach Pat Keating.
“They out-physicaled us,” Keating said. “That was the most disappointing thing. The bottom line is we didn’t make plays when we needed to make plays. They had a third-and-18, we drop eight (into coverage) and we still let them complete the pass.”
That third-and-18 play — a 20-yard pass from C.J. Curry to Andrew Force — allowed Berwick to keep a scoring drive alive in the third quarter after Valley West had tied the score 21-21.
Running back Nate Maczuga capped the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run, breaking through tackles 20 yards from the end zone, to give the Dawgs a 28-21 lead.
Berwick’s next two scores came after Valley West turnovers. Linebacker Zach Andress intercepted a pass, leading to a 3-yard TD run by Kowalski. A fumble on a fourth-down attempt set up Kowalski’s 30-yard score.
“It was a heck of a game,” George Curry said. “Two good teams went at it. We just rallied a little more.”
Momentum swung several times in the first half, but it was fleeting for both teams.
Valley West scored on its first drive of the game on a 20-yard run by Eric Acosta. Berwick rebounded by scoring on its next two possession for a 13-7.
The Spartans, though, answered with a 12-play scoring drive capped by a 20-yard scoring run by Troy Yashinski. Again Berwick answered with a 10-play drive that Stout finished with an 8-yard TD run. The Dawgs were aided by a pass interference penalty on a third-and-7 from the Valley West 19-yard line. Stout scored on the next play.
Berwick 42, Valley West 28
Wyoming Valley West`7`7`7`7`—`28
WVW — Eric Acosta 20 run (Ian Ultsh kick), 8:46
BER — Nate Maczuga 13 run (Olivia Seely kick), 3:58
BER — C.J. Curry 1 run (kick failed), 2:08
WVW — Troy Yashinski 20 run (Ultsh kick), 9:02
BER — Jorden Stout 8 run (Maczuga run), 5:11
WVW — L.J. Wesneski 19 pass from Mike Baur (Ultsh kick), 9:02
BER — Maczuga 30 run (Seely kick), 3:15
BER — Dain Kowalski 3 run (Seely kick), 10:04
BER — Kowalski 20 run (Seely kick), 4:03
WVW — Acosta 9 run (Ultsh kick), 1:58
RUSHING — WVW, Acosta 10-46, Baur 20-72, Yashinski 1-20, Mike Sands 1-3, Bill Davison 1-0, Brady Davison 1-(minus-1). Berwick, Kowalski 11-65, Maczuga 9-75, Stout 8-49, Curry 8-22, Kyle Trenholm 3-26, Nick Telanca 3-18, team 1-(minus-1).
PASSING — WVW, Baur 11-19-2, Brady Davison 2-4-0-26, Sands 0-1-0-0. Berwick, Curry 7-16-1-124.
RECEIVING — WVW, Sands 7-74, Chris Baranski 1-7, Sean Judge 1-42, Wesneski 1-19, Baur 2-26, Jermichael Bunch 1-6. Berwick, Trenholm 3-57, Andrew Force 2-38, Ian Mazonkey 1-10, Trevon Simmons 1-19.
INTERCEPTIONS — WVW, Baur 1-17. Berwick, Kowalski 1-8, Zach Andress 1-0.
MISSED FGs — None.