BERWICK — Amazing how one touchdown can change everything.
Then again, it was scored by Berwick, which has taken the smallest opportunity all season and ripped open games completely.
The Dawgs scored with seven seconds left in the first half and kept on rolling, all the way to a 39-7 victory over Coughlin in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 3A game Friday night.
Berwick, which had clinched a District 2 Class 3A playoff berth prior to the game, improved to 9-0. The Dawgs also clinched a home game in the D2-3A first round. Coughlin (7-2) will now need to defeat Crestwood (8-1) next Saturday for a shot at the D2-3A playoffs.
Berwick led 11-7 with 1:05 left in the second quarter when it drove 60 yards for a score. And Coughlin never recovered from Kyle Trenholm’s 12-yard TD run on a reverse.
“That’s why you play every second of the game,” Coughlin coach Ciro Cinti said. “That’s what happens. They did a good job getting the ball down there. They faked a pitch and came back with the reverse. It was a good play, a good call.”
Berwick coach George Curry agreed the score changed the complexion of the game decisively.
“Yep,” said Curry.
The long-time coach was more forthcoming about the performance of his grandson, quarterback C.J. Curry.
Curry misfired on his first seven passes. But he threw a 40-yard pass to receiver Andrew Force to start the drive. Three plays later, he completed a 26-yard slant pattern to Trenholm on a second-and-23 play.
“Once he got in a rhythm and protection,” Curry said. “I told him `You can’t game the thing. Throw it. Get your hips in it.’ When he did, you saw the result.”
It was a heck of a recovery for Curry. The senior finished 9-of-17 for 166 yards and three touchdowns. The first came on Berwick’s initial possession of the third quarter. The eight-play drive ended when Curry flipped a short pass to tight end Ian Mazonkey, who rambled in from 16 yards out.
The Berwick starters were only prevented from scoring once in the second half. Two other drives ended in touchdown passes of 42 and 23 yards to Trenholm in the fourth quarter.
Coughlin erased a 3-0 deficit on its second possession of the game. Sticking exclusively to the ground, the Crusaders moved 60 yards with running back Paul Cole bouncing outside for an 11-yard touchdown run with 2:01 left in the first quarter.
After that, Coughlin’s deepest penetration was to the Berwick 39-yard line. And that was due to Berwick being flagged for a holding penalty on a Crusader punt.
“I’m proud of our defense,” George Curry said. “We settled down a little bit. We got the right defense when we found out what they were doing. I thought our kids answered the call.”
Whether Coughlin does next Saturday night will be seen. The Crusaders lost a couple key players late when Cole and receiver/defensive back Darik Johnson left the game with injuries.
“This one hurts, no doubt about it,” Cinti said. “You play hard and the kids are upset they lost. All you can say is heal the wounds and get ready to come back on Monday. (Crestwood) is a big game, no doubt about it, so we have to be ready to play.”
Berwick 39, Coughlin 7
BER — Olivia Seely 27 FG, 6:26
COU — Paul Cole 11 run (Brandon Butry kick), 2:01
BER — CJ Curry 1 run (Jorden Stout run), 11:57
BER — Kyle Trenholm 12 run (Seely kick), 0:07
BER — Ian Mazonkey 16 pass from Curry (Seely kick), 7:40
BER — Trenholm 41 pass from Curry (Seely kick), 11:00
BER — Trenholm 23 pass from Curry (Seely kick), 6:55
RUSHING — Coughlin, Cole 16-98, Tim Pilch 12-17, Tyler Layton 3-8, Tom Mitchell 2-(minus-6), Derek Nunez 1-9, team 1-0. Berwick, Dain Kowalski 11-77, Curry 10-43, Stout 7-44, Nick Talanca 5-30, Trenholm 2-13, Daquan Hollenthal 3-22.
PASSING — Coughlin, Pilch 3-10-0-23. Berwick, Curry 9-17-1-166, Dallas Arner 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING — Coughlin, Darik Johnson 1-11, Dave Parsnik 2-12. Berwick, Andrew Force 1-40, Trenholm 4-94, Paul Jay Wiegand 1-7, Mazonkey 2-20, Talanca 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS — Coughlin, Johnson 1-0.
MISSED FGs — none.