BERWICK - It was already a good start for Berwick, which held a touchdown lead barely a minute into the game.
Then Alex Klinger made it a great one.
The Bulldogs linebacker shot downfield in kickoff coverage, smashed the ball loose with a jarring shot, then recovered the fumble to set up his team’s second touchdown.
“Nobody blocked me,” Klinger said. “I just thought, ‘I’m going to have a free shot at the kid.’”
It seemed Bulldogs were running loose all night.
Dain Kowalski rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns, the Berwick defense pitched a shutout Friday and the unbeaten Bulldogs slammed Selinsgrove 36-0 to the delight of a joyous crowd at Crispin Field.
“It was a great game,” Klinger said. “One of our most fun games.”
The fun started early for Berwick.
On the game’s second offensive play, linebacker A.J. Vandermark burst into Selisgrove’s backfield, plucked a fumble out of the air and waltzed into the end zone for a 7-0 Berwick lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Klinger made his stellar special teams play and Kowalski cashed it in by using a nifty cutback on a 14-yard touchdown dash.
And on Selinsgrove’s next offensive play, Tanner Weaver picked off a pass, returned it 25 yards to the Selinsgrove 11-yard line, and Jordan Stout crashed a yard across the goal line five plays later.
Less than five minutes into the game, Berwick had a 22-0 lead.
“Our defense came up with three turnovers,” Kowalski said. “We capitalized on them, scoring three times. You have to take advantage of the turnovers.”
Then Berwick took advantage of its superior strength, marching 76 yards on a drive capped by Kowalski’s second 14-yard touchdown sprint, then following with a 65-yard touchdown drive that ended with quarterback C.J. Curry’s 5-yard scoring keeper for a 36-0 lead before halftime.
“Once momentum turned for us, we didn’t let off the pedal,” Kowalski said.
The only question from there was whether or not Selinsgrove would score.
The Seals didn’t, as Berwick’s defense allowed just one Selinsgrove trip to the red zone, and that ended on a fourth-down sack.
“First one of the year,” a smiling Klinger said of the shutout.
The downside for Berwick came when running back Nate Maczuga was lost to a serious arm injury during a run in the second quarter.
“He’s done for the year,” said Berwick coach George Curry, C.J.’s grandfather.
Also bothering the coach was an offensive performance that was somewhat sloppy at times, as the Bulldogs lost a fumble at the goal line, watched C.J. Curry absorb four sacks and were missing some injured defensive linemen.
Still, the big early lead was more than enough to put the Bulldogs on the path to victory.
“But sometimes you do that, you don’t play as hard as you should,” George Curry said. “I’ll take it, it was a shutout and they’re not a bad team. (But) we blew two opportunities inside the 5 (-yard line), fumbled twice, blew an assignment. It’s frustrating. When we want to play, we can play.
“We can knock you off the ball.”
Berwick 36, Selinsgrove 0
B — A.J. Vandermark 11 fumble return (Olivia Seely kick), 11:08
B — Dain Kowalski 14 run (Kowalski conversion run), 10:13
B — Jorden Stout 1 run (Seely kick), 7:23
B — Kowalski 14 run (Seely kick), 5:50
B — C.J. Curry 5 run (Seely kick), 3:12
RUSHING — SEL, Angelo Martin 17-63, Conner Liebenfeld 14-66, Zach Adams 6-27, Isaiah Rapp 4-11. BER, Dain Kowalski 12-108, Jorden Stout 7-59, Nick Talanca 12-53, Daquan Helienthal 4-21, C.J. Curry 9-15, Alex Klinger 1-13, Nate Maczuga 2-3, Rich Snyder 1-2.
PASSING — SEL, Rapp 3-11-1-31. HOM, Curry 7-10-0-108.
RECEIVING — SEL, Dylan Beaver 2-28, Liesenfeld 1-3. BER, Kowalski 2-28, Andrew Force 2-23, Paul Jay Wiegand 1-33, Kevin Woodeshick 1-16, Talanca 1-8.
INTERCEPTIONS — BER, Tanner Weaver 1-25.