BANGOR – Jared Pierce threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns as visiting Berwick came from behind to defeat Bangor Area 28-21 in a Class AAA Eastern Conference showdown Friday night.
After both teams traded punts it took Berwick one play to get on the scoreboard. Quarterback Jared Pierce hit Sean Ridall for a 64-yard bomb. The two-point conversion failed and the Dawgs led 6-0 with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
The Slaters answered right back with a 7-play 68-yard drive. Quarterback Drew Nicholas rolled out of the pocket and threw off balance to Ryan Hester who got behind the defense for the 27-yard touchdown catch. Ryan Fraunfelter’s extra point put Bangor up 7-6.
The Dawgs went on the move again late in the first quarter. They put together a 16-play drive that started at their own 14-yard line. Caleb Getterolf scored on a one-yard touchdown run and Pierce called his own play and went in for the two-point conversion to give the Dawgs a 14-7 lead with 5:48 remaining in the first half.
The Slaters went on to run five straight running plays led by Scott LaValva as he broke tackle after tackle and had two big runs to setup his eight-yard touchdown run. The extra point went wide left and the Dawgs led by a slim margin 14-13.
The first big turnover of the night went in favor of Bangor. Pierce’s pass was called a lateral and Bangor recovered the ball deep in Berwick’s territory. The Dawgs defense came up big and forced a field goal attempt by Bangor. The kick was no good by Fraunfelter. The Dawgs took over on downs with 1:08 remaining in the first half.
Jeremy Freeman’s punishing running on Berwick’s opening drive in the second half led to the only score of the third quarter. Pierce threw a strike to Ridall on the slant pass that went 35-yards for the score. The two-point conversion failed when Bangor’s Josh Pensyl sacked Pierce. Berwick led 20-13.
After the Dawgs defense stopped Bangor and forced a punt, Pensyl recovered the fumble on the punt return by Berwick. A personal foul by Berwick gave Bangor a first down and goal on their eight-yard line.
With 1:59 remaining in the third quarter Bangor was facing a third down and 13. Nicholas tossed a pass to LaValva who took it in for the score. But a holding penalty wiped out the touchdown and pushed Bangor back to the 27. The Dawgs defense dodged another bullet as LaValva pass fell incomplete. They took over on downs.
Things started to get interesting in the fourth quarter. Bangor’s defense stopped the fake punt by Berwick with 6:38 remaining in the game. Bangor would take over on the 43.
It looked like Bangor’s drive ws going to end on an interception by Ridall. But a pass interference call gave Bangor a 1st down and 10 on Berwick’s 13. After three straight run plays LaValva scored on the one-yard run with 4:01 left in the game. Trailing 20-19 Russ Horn followed his offensive line right into the end zone for the two-point conversion. Bangor led 21-20.
LaValva finished the game rushing for 156 yards and two scores.
Head coach Frank Scagliotta talked about Scott LaValva’s career, “Well there surely aren’t words to describe what he has meant to our program the last four years. The kid has done everything to make our program successful.”
The Dawgs got the ball back and a penalty by Bangor gave them good field position late in the game. Pierce’s short passing game set up the game-winning touchdown. Freeman broke free right up the middle and went 31-yard for the score with 2:59 remaining in the game. Freeman snuck in for the two-point conversion and the Dawgs jumped right back into the lead 28-21.
Berwick head coach Gary Campbell talked about the game winning drive saying, “Resiliency has been our motto all year long. That was a heart breaker when they scored the touchdown late. We could have packed it in but we came right down and made the plays.”
Bangor’s season came to an end on a fourth down incompletion. Berwick ran out the clock and moved on to the Class AAA Eastern Conference finals. They will face Valley View who won 28-7 over Coughlin.