BERWICK – For the Berwick football team, the difference between hoping and achieving is a single vowel. On the door heading from the locker room, the words “Win Today” were written with blue tape. After the game, the letter “i” was changed to an “o.” And that’s just what Berwick did when it upset visiting Hazleton Area by a score of 28-7 on Friday night.
“We had nothing to lose,” said Berwick’s Kolby Klinger. “We were 3-6. They’re our rival, and we wanted to upset them.”
Klinger had two touchdowns, two interceptions, recovered teammate Zach Alley’s onside kick and broke up a pass late in the game. His first touchdown came with 7:32 left in the first half, putting the Bulldogs up 14-0.
The Cougars (8-2) were lucky they weren’t trailing by four touchdowns at the half.
Berwick (4-6) punted on its first possession, and Hazleton Area’s Dennis Buchman called for a fair catch. The ball bounced off his chest pads at the 25-yard line, and Berwick recovered it with excellent field position. But the Bulldogs couldn’t convert, and Alley missed a 37-yard field goal with 9:01 left in the first quarter. That was Hazleton’s first break.
The Cougars’ next break came after a fake punt failed on their first possession of the game, giving Berwick possession at the 50-yard line. But a fumble on the 14-yard line recovered by Hazleton Area’s Shane McKernan held the Bulldogs scoreless.
From then on, Berwick looked stunning.
Klinger intercepted Joe Kost, who only had three interceptions going into Friday’s game, in the end zone with 10:06 left in the half, setting up Berwick quarterback Gordon Law’s 73-yard run 95 seconds later. Alley’s ensuing onside kick hit Klinger right in the numbers, and Berwick got the ball at the Cougars’ 46. Three plays later, Klinger crossing the goal line a mere 69 seconds after Law.
“Zach Alley is a great kicker,” Klinger said. “He can spot a ball like that.”
Hazleton Area got within seven on Nate Eachus’ 14-yard run in the second half, but Klinger answered with a 25-yard touchdown run. With 7:33 left to play, Berwick’s Ryan Cordingly scored on a 56-yard fumble recovery.
Hazleton Area was throwing in desperation on a fourth-and-20 on its own 12-yard line with just over 5:30 left, when Klinger intercepted it.
“Kolby is unbelievable,” said Berwick’s first-year coach Gary Campbell. “This year he played with a broken thumb, and he may have broke his finger (last night). … He is the toughest 165, 175-pound running back I’ve ever coached.”