By: Chris Nagy | Seals Football | September 21, 2018 | Photo courtesy Paige Smith
SELINSGROVE — All week Selinsgrove heard Friday night’s game against Berwick was not going to be close.
“The team heard all the reports all week that this was going to be a blowout and in the mercy rule,” said Selinsgrove coach Derek Hicks.
Berwick came out on top, but it was far from one-sided, as the Bulldogs emerged with a 21-7 victory
“I am proud of the way we played,” said Hicks. “We didn’t buy into any of that press or reports and we came to play.”
The story of the game was defense.
Berwick came into the contest averaging almost 300 yards per game on the ground, and didn’t even get a third of that as the Seals held them to just 95 yards.
“Coming into the game we knew they were going to run the ball,” said Hicks. “We felt if we were going to have a chance, we were going to have to stop the run and force them to pass the ball.”
Unfortunately for Selinsgrove, the Bulldogs were able to do that.
“We have become experts at taking what the defense gives us,” said Berwick coach Frank Sheptock. “Derek and his staff had a great game plan and the kids did an amazing job on defense.
“We had to adapt.”
The Bulldogs turned to senior quarterback Alex Force when the run game was stalled.
“Alex has been through it all, so when something isn’t working, we know he will do what is needed to be done,” said Sheptock.
The Berwick defense, which had 10 sacks and forced four turnovers, set up the first score with an interception of Danny Shoch at the Seals’ 32.
On the next play, Force found Alex Sharkuski down the sideline, and the Bulldogs were up 7-0 in the first quarter.
The game looked like it was going to be tied late in the second half when Shoch fired a ball to Josh Nylund near the end zone. Berwick’s Teagan Wilk came out of nowhere for an inteception and ended the threat.
“To be 7-0 at halftime and with the chances we had, I will take it,” said Hicks.
Berwick got the running game going a little bit in the second half when Owen Shoemaker scored from 40 yards out to make it 14-0.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 21-0 when Force found Wilk for 34 yards and a score.
At this point, Koy Bastian came in at quarterback for the Seals and late in the fourth quarter, Bastian connected with Christian Kantz to make it 21-7.
“The defense was great, and all we did was leave up a couple of big plays that gave them their 21 points,” said Hicks. “We knew coming into the game Berwick’s defense was going to be the best we will see all year.
“We had some short fields and credit their defense for stopping us.”
Berwick held Selinsgrove to negative-37 yards on the ground.
“Our defense has been strong all year,” said Sheptock. “When we made some mistakes and gave up field position, they really answered the call.”
The game was sloppy with nine turnovers — five of them belonging to Berwick — along with several special teams mistakes and more than 120 yards in penalties between the two teams. Berwick also had a touchdown taken off the board early in the fourth quarter as the team celebrated the touchdown at the 1-yard line and was flagged for unsportsmanlike. The drive ended in an interception.
BERWICK 21, SELINSGROVE 7
Berwick (5-0) 7 0 14 0 — 21
Selinsgrove (2-3) 0 0 0 7 — 7
B - Alex Sharkuski 35 pass from Alex Force (Jarret Groshek kick)
B - Owen Shoemaker 40 run (Groshek kick)
B - Teagan Wilk 34 pass from Force (Groshek kick)
S - Christian Kantz 11 pass from Koy Bastian (Kyle Ruhl kick)
First downs 9 8
Rushes-yards 31-95 36-(-37)
Passing yards 140 140
Passing 10-19-1 14-33-3
Penalties 9-95 4-35
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-1
Rushing — Berwick: Owen Shoemaker, 21-94, TD; Alex Force, 6-9; Justin Robbins 1-(minus-6); Teagan Wilk, 2-2; Connor Grove 1-(minus-4); Selinsgrove: Nate Schon, 10-41; Joe Kahn, 7-4; Koy Bastian, 5-11; Wyatt Metzger, 1-(minus-11); Danny Shoch, 13-(minus-92).
Passing — Berwick: Force, 10-19-1, 140 yards, 2TDs; Selinsgrove: Shoch, 8-20-3, 97 yards; Bastian, 6-13-0, 43 yards, TD
Receiving — Berwick: Wilk, 7-91, TD; Sharkuski, 1-32, TD; Justin Robbins, 1-8; Blake Maurer, 1-9. Selinsgrove: Christian Kantz, 4-50, TD; Ben Swineford, 3-23; Josh Nylund, 3-26; Metzger, 1-5; Kahn, 1-5; Schon, 1-5; Brett Foor, 1-4.