HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL:
DALLAS BEATS BERWICK TO ADVANCE TO DISTRICT TITLE GAME.
DALLAS — The kick was certainly high enough. It was definitely long enough. The only thing left to determine was what would the wind do with the football once it left Ryan Fisher’s foot and whether a second overtime between Dallas and Berwick would be needed.
But with two timeouts taken, Fisher had plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments. And while the wind did take hold of the ball, Fisher had just enough to sneak it through the uprights and give Dallas a 3-0 victory Saturday afternoon at Mountaineer Stadium in a District 2 semifinal.
The win sends Dallas (11-1) to next week’s Class 4A district championship game against No. 1 seed Valley View. The Cougars earned the right to play for a title with a victory over West Scranton.
It will be the second meeting between the two teams this year after Valley View won at Dallas during the regular season. Berwick ends the year 9-3.
Berwick coach Frank Sheptock called a timeout prior to Fisher’s kick to ice him. Dallas coach Rich Mannello called a timeout to make a personnel change up front on the line of scrimmage.
“Just going through my mind, it gave me more time to think about the wind and how I was going to kick into the wind,” Fisher said. “It was a nerve-wracking kick. Keeping my composure was the biggest part of the kick. The kick went up and the wind just killed it by the uprights and it drifted right.”
While battling the wind was difficult enough for both teams, Dallas played the game with a new starting quarterback. With both starter Michael Starbuck and backup RJ Wren out with injuries, the Mountaineers turned to junior Michael Lukasavage, who did not attempt a pass or carry the ball at all this season.
“I found out Sunday,” Lukasavage said of when he was informed he would be starting. “I worked hard all offseason and made sure when I had the opportunity I went and took it. We are able to handle adversity so fast and so well. Knowing our starting quarterback and backup went down, it made me who I am today. I know I have a great team around me and that let me go out and play ball.”
With scoring opportunities at a premium, field position was going to be key and special teams was going to be a factor.
Matt Maransky blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Berwick as the first half expired, and he blocked another when the Dawgs attempted a 25-yarder after getting the ball first in overtime.
“Actually it was our scout team look that enabled me to block that kick (in overtime) and the first kick,” Maransky said. “We were just able to get around the edge. They are a great team and do things well. I just got lucky. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game with low yardage.”
Dallas had a touchdown taken off the board in the second quarter when Lukasavage connected with Luke Delgaudio on an 8-yard pass, but it was negated due to a holding penalty.
“That drive into the wind, it’s tough to have a touchdown taken off the board,” Mannello said. “The kids overcame that. That was our best drive of the day, and it was into the wind. It was just a tremendous effort all day by the kids. I am so happy for them.”
Berwick finished with 203 yards of total offense with 183 coming on the ground. Defensively, the Dawgs gave up 81 yards rushing, while Lukasavage threw for 93.
“Obviously, it was a defensive kind of day,” Sheptock said. “As the game wore on, we were thinking about an overtime situation. We had a couple of shots but we just didn’t execute. We had a chance to make some big plays but it just didn’t work out.”
Dallas won the toss in overtime and went on defense first. Berwick began the series with a delay of game penalty moving the ball back to the 15. After two incomplete pass attempts, Teagan Wilk rushed for seven yards. Maransky came around the edge and block the field goal attempt meaning Dallas just needed a field go to win.
Lenny Kelley carried the ball three consecutive times for Dallas gaining 3 yards setting up Fisher’s game-winner. His field goal against Berwick in the regular season proved to be the difference in Dallas’ three-point win at Crispin Field.
“At the end of the fourth quarter, I knew it was going to come down to some little point,” Fisher said. “We are both two great teams going at each other. I knew it would come down to the small points.”
Ryan Fisher kicks the game-winning field goal Saturday as Matt Maransky holds.
Dallas’ Matt Maransky dives in to block Jarret Groshek’s field goal attempt.