Ber­wick de­fense holds off Cru­saders for vic­tory

The Citizens' Voice - - Front Page - BY STEVE BEN­NETT STAFF WRITER

WILKES-BARRE — Frank Shep­tock spent a lot of time dur­ing the week talk­ing about an­gles and how he wanted the Ber­wick de­fense to pur­sue them. His pri­mary con­cern, of course, was slow­ing down Cough­lin’s run­ning at­tack of Jake Cole and Vin­cent Todd, and the de­fense had spe­cific in­struc­tions for the both of them.

The Bull­dogs demon­strated why they are the top-ranked de­fense in the Wy­oming Val­ley Con­fer­ence and first against the run in a 24-6 vic­tory over the Cru­saders on Fri­day night at Wilkes-Barre Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

Cole fin­ished the night rush­ing for 49 yards on 17 car­ries, while Todd had 11 yards on 10 car­ries. Ber­wick’s of­fense was op­por­tunis­tic in the sec­ond half, turn­ing a pair of Cough­lin turnovers into touch­downs to help the de­fense out.

“I thought our de­fense did a great job tack­ling and con­tain­ing (Cole and Todd),” Shep­tock said.

“I think they are both spe­cial play­ers. Even at the half we were say­ing in a de­fen­sive game, one of those kids all of a sud­den, they could be gone. I am happy with our pur­suit and an­gles.”

Ber­wick wanted to make sure Cole had to try to take the ball out­side and the plan for Todd was just the op­po­site. When Todd got out­side, they wanted to make sure he had to turn in­side.

“The idea was to try to make (Cole) stop his feet when he was run­ning so he had to bounce out­side,” Shep­tock said. “When Todd was out­side, we wanted to make sure he had to cut back in. We have some safeties back there who are do­ing some good things, and I think our lineback­ers are play­ing much bet­ter than last year.”

Ber­wick had 97 yards of to­tal of­fense in the first half while Cough­lin had 39. The only points in the half came on Ken Marsh­man’s 29-yard field goal in the first quar­ter, and de­spite a few threats from the Cru­saders, Ber­wick was able to take the 3-0 lead to the half.

“They are a very tough, phys­i­cal team,” Cough­lin coach Ciro Cinti said of Ber­wick. “They beat us up front. We couldn’t run the ball and that hurt a big deal. It put a big damper on the of­fense.”

Cough­lin turned the ball over on the sec­ond play of the third quar­ter on its own 24. With Da­mon Beck­horn op­er­at­ing out of the wild­cat, he scored on a 9-yard run to put the Bull­dogs up 10-0. Jared Watts hauled in an 18-yard touch­down pass from Alex Force on a fourth down play to make it 17-0, and an­other Cough­lin turnover led to a 4-yard touch­down run by Joe Lynn that helped Ber­wick put the game away.

“(Beck­horn) is a dy­namic player; we need to get him the ball more,” Shep­tock said. “We tried to get him the ball dif­fer­ent ways and Tea­gan (Wilk) the ball dif­fer­ent ways. We have some play­mak­ers, we just have to keep them healthy and this team could be pretty good.”

Cough­lin scored late in the fourth quar­ter when Eric So­van scored on a 5-yard run.

“Our kids played hard the whole game,” Cinti said. “But two things we talked about, penal­ties and turnovers. You can’t have them against a good team like that. You can’t start first-and-15, that just puts your­self in an even big­ger hole.”


Cough­lin’s Vin­cent Todd tries to stop Ber­wick’s Justin Rob­bins dur­ing Fri­day night’s game at Wilkes-Barre Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

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