BERWICK ‚?? It seemed like a perfect scenario for Berwick on Saturday afternoon.
It ended up being an imperfect result.
Abington Heights‚?? offense hadn‚??t scored in its last nine quarters, but once the Comets got a jolt of confidence they overwhelmed Berwick‚??s staunch defense for a 44-35 victory in the District 2 Class 3A championship game.
Abington (10-2) will play District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic (7-5) at 1 p.m. next Saturday tentatively at Valley View High School in the PIAA Class 3A tournament. Berwick ended its year at 10-2.
Berwick had allowed its last three opponents just one touchdown each. It surrendered just 123 points during the regular season, the lowest amount in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
But the Comets came out for the first time this season with a five-wideout formation, and quarterback Dante Pasqualichio proceeded to carve up Berwick‚??s secondary throughout the game.
‚??We came in with a five-receiver set that Berwick hadn‚??t seen us run before,‚?Ě said Pasqualichio, who finished 15-of-25 for 200 yards and three touchdowns. ‚??Actually, we‚??ve never run it. Just to get back to scoring and throwing up 44 points, we‚??ve got more confidence moving into states.‚?Ě
The biggest of all of Pasqualichio‚??s throws came at 3:20 of the second quarter and the score tied 14-14. The Comets flooded the left side of the secondary with receivers and he threw back to the right to tight end Simon Patrick Williams, who scored untouched from 22 yards out.
After a 42-yard field goal boosted Abington‚??s advantage to 24-14, Berwick squandered an excellent chance to cut the deficit and seize the momentum going into halftime.
The Dawgs drove 76 yards to the Abington 4-yard line with eight seconds left in the second quarter. Quarterback C.J. Curry dropped back and rolled slightly to the right, but found no one open. He then tried to run the ball in, but was stopped 2 yards shy of the end zone as time ran out.
‚??I put that on my shoulders,‚?Ě Curry said. ‚??You know there‚??s eight seconds left on the clock and you‚??re on the 4-yard line. You just have to get points on the board. I tried to run it in, but their defense came up and made a great play and time ran out.
‚??If I had it over again, I would have just thrown it away. Everybody was covered, maybe Olivia (Seely) would have kicked a field goal.‚?Ě
The failure to score proved costly as Berwick scored four plays into the third quarter when Jeff Steeber scorched Abington for another long scoring run, this time a 55-yarder to go with his 74-yard run in the first quarter. Steeber finished with 202 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries.
‚??We can run the football, no question,‚?Ě Berwick coach George Curry said. ‚??And we did run the football. We had a couple passes where in seven-man protection, we were OK. But anything with six- or five-man protection, we struggled. Even in seven-man protection, there were times we couldn‚??t handle one of their guys.‚?Ě
Steeber‚??s touchdown run moved Berwick within 24-21. But as was the case the entire second half, Abington quickly answered a Dawgs‚?? score. Nate Hollander took the ensuing kickoff, sprinted into a clump of players in the middle of the field and somehow sprinted out of the other end of the pack. His 80-yard return increased the Comets‚?? lead to 31-21.
It happened two more times after Steeber scoring runs in the third and fourth quarters.
‚??We‚??re up by 10 and they bust a big one two minutes into the (second) half,‚?Ě said Abington receiver J.C. Show, whose 10-yard TD catch all but put the game away with 3:59 to play. ‚??It was frustrating, but I knew we had to keep working harder and build some chemistry on the field and come back with that extra knockout punch.‚?Ě
Show finished with six receptions ‚?? his second highest single-game total of the season ‚?? for 88 yards. Pasqualichio reached 200 yards for only the second time this season, distributing the ball to five teammates.
‚??Going into the game, we thought we‚??d spread them out a little bit and take them out of some of the things they like to do defensively and that would open some things inside for us for our running game,‚?Ě Abington coach Joe Repshis said. ‚??It gave us the opportunity to get some of our players in one-on-one matchups.‚?Ě
District 2 Class 3A Championship
Abington Heights 44, Berwick 35
BER ‚?? Jeff Steeber 74 run (Olivia Seely kick), 7:28
AH ‚?? Nate Hollander 3 pass from Dante Pasqualichio (Ryan Patrick kick), 2:54
BER ‚?? Matt Cashman 99 kick return (Seely kick), 2:40
AH ‚?? Ryan Judge 6 run (Patrick kick), 0:04
AH ‚?? Simon Patrick Williams 22 pass from Pasqualichio (Patrick kick), 3:20
AH ‚?? Patrick 42 FG, 1:31
BER ‚?? Steeber 55 run (Seely kick), 10:26
AH ‚?? Hollander 80 kick return (Patrick kick), 10:14
BER ‚?? Steeber 3 run (Seely kick), 3:56
AH ‚?? Judge 26 run (Patrick kick), 2:32
BER ‚?? Steeber 1 run (Seely kick), 7:25
AH ‚?? J.C. Show 10 pass from Pasqualichio (kick blocked), 3:59
RUSHING ‚?? Abington, Judge 6-56, Jerry Langan 5-19, Pasqualichio 8-34, Sean Rock 7-29, team 3-(minus-6). Berwick, Cashman 13-68, C.J. Curry 10-(minus-7), Steeber 14-202.
PASSING ‚?? Abington, Pasqualichio 15-25-0-200. Berwick, Curry 6-15-1-64, Jake Pecorelli 2-2-0-33, team 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING ‚?? Abington, Show 6-88, Rock 1-(minus-1), Hollander 4-29, Conor Dickinson 2-34, Williams 2-50. Berwick, Pecorelli 1-15, Zach Ladonis 2-30, Steeber 3-39, Cashman 2-13.
INTS ‚?? Abington, Show.
MISSED FGS ‚?? none.