Lions dominate in D5 championship
WINDBER — Cole Blubaugh capped off third-seeded Berlin Brothersvalley’s opening nine-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown.
At that point, top-seeded Chestnut Ridge hadn’t even touched the ball on offense yet, and the defense was only just warming up.
The Lions responded by scoring 41 unanswered points with their defense playing a huge part by creating four turnovers.
Chestnut Ridge cruised to its fourth straight District 5 Class 2A championship with a 41-20 victory over the Mountaineers on Friday night at Windber Stadium.
Play of the game: Leading just 14-6 at the half, Chestnut Ridge came out and set the tone for the quarter as quarterback Logan Pfister followed up a Trey Maxwell 4-yard gain on first down with a 57-yard TD run. Pfister was untouched as he ran through a gaping hole on the right side of the line, and turned the play into a track meet to the end zone — which he easily won. The touchdown was the first of four scores for the Lions in the third.
Best return: Matt Whysong intercepted the Mountaineers’ Abe Countryman in the second quarter at the CR 38. The sophomore started his return by heading right before working his way back to the left side of the field, and then changed directions again back to the right side where he was able to outrun the last Berlin defender to the endzone at the 2:39 mark to put Ridge up 14-6.
Whysong: “We knew they (Berlin) were probably going to go to Cole Blubaugh because he’s that type of player and that good. I saw him go deep, and I just stayed with him … I was just running to open space. My guys made good blocks for me to get there.”
Best catch: Chestnut Ridge’s Trevor Weyandt came down with an interception off Berlin’s Will Spochart in the second quarter. The ball was overthrown on the player Weyandt was defending. However, the sophomore read the ball, dove toward the endzone and made a finger-tip catch to secure the ball for the Lions.
Player of the game: In addition to the 57-yard score, Pfister also reached paydirt on a 20-yard burst in response to Blubaugh’s TD with 6:46 left in the opening quarter (Brady Miller’s PAT put the Lions on top for good). The junior also tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Joe Gardner on the first play following a Berlin punt that made the score 28-6 at 9:34 of the third. For the game, Pfister was 11-of-16 for 154 yards through the air and ran the ball 13 times for 91 yards.
Unsung heroes: In addition to his interception that led to the TD, Whysong picked off Spochart in the third quarter that set up a Trevor Weyandt 46-yard touchdown sprint at 4:14 to push Ridge up 34-6 … Senior Duane Knisely fronted the Lions’ defense with two sacks.
Knisely: “I’ve been slacking on sacks this year. I don’t get them too often, so I was pretty excited to get some more this game. I saw the opportunities, so I just took advantage of it. It was a fun time.”
Most vital statistic: Berlin Brothersvalley turned the ball over four times, while Chestnut Ridge had none. All four Berlin turnovers came on interceptions with the last one coming courtesy of Seth Holderbaum. The INT led to the final Ridge points as Maxwell crossed the goal line from 6 yards out with 2:01 remaining in the third stanza.
Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker: “The third quarter we just turned the tables, and capitalized on a couple of their turnovers. Our kids made some great defensive plays. Whysong had two picks — one to the house (in the second quarter) and that second one that was even more spectacular. Holderbaum had a nice one down here on their (Berlin Brothersvalley) end of the field that turned into a quick six points too.”
Berlin coach Doug Paul: “Against a team like that, I told them all week we can’t make mistakes — turnovers were huge.”
Pfister on his 57-yard TD run: “It was a big play for us. It really got momentum swinging for us. Great blocking up front, great blocking on the perimeter — it left me a big hole. I don’t even think I was touched that how good the blocking was.”
Notable: Berlin scored twice in the fourth when the game was all but over. Blubaugh reeled off a 56-yard run at 11:38, while Gavin Sager set the final with a 60-yard TD run at the 5:23 point … Before the late Blubaugh TD run, Chestnut Ridge had held the Mountaineers feature back to just 69 yards on 24 attempts (2.88 yards per carry) … The Lions amassed 263 rushing yards on 40 attempts, including 207 in the second half. Meanwhile, the defense allowed 236 yards on the ground by Berlin. Take away the two fourth quarter TD runs, and the Mountaineers only gained 120 rushing yards on 41 tries … Ridge collected 21 first downs, while Berlin had 13.
Shoemaker on winning a fourth straight championship: “We have gritty kids. They’re not the biggest. We worked hard in the offseason on our strength. When we go into a battle, we expect to win.”
Records: Berlin Brothersvalley (10-2); Chestnut Ridge (9-2)
Next week: Chestnut Ridge will play District 10 champ Wilmington, a 45-7 winner over Greenville, next Friday or Saturday in the PIAA state playoffs at a site and time to be announced; Berlin Brothersvalley’s season is complete.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Berlin Brothersvalley 6 0 0 14 — 20
Chestnut Ridge 7 7 27 0 — 41
BB–C. Blubaugh 3 run (kick failed), 8:52.
CR–Pfister 20 run (B. Miller kick), 6:46.
CR–Whysong 62 interception return (B. Miller kick), 2:39.
CR–Pfister 57 run (B. Miller kick), 11:04.
CR–Gardner 21 pass from Pfister (B. Miller kick), 9:34.
CR–Weyandt 46 run (kick failed), 4:14.
CR–Maxwell 6 run (B. Miller kick), 2:01.
BB–C. Blubaugh 56 run (Glessner kick), 11:48.
BB–Sager 60 run (Glessner kick), 5:23.
TEAM STATISTICS BB CR
First downs 13 21
Total yards 266 417
Rushes-yards 43-236 40-263
Yards passing 30 154
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 2-10-4 11-16-0
Punts-avg. 3-28.7 1-24.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-15 5-40
RUSHING–Berlin Brothersvalley, C. Blubaugh 25-125, Spochart 14-53, Countryman 1-(-4), Foor 1-3, Sager 1-60, TEAM 1-(-1). Chestnut Ridge, Whysong 3-15, Pfister 13-91, Weyandt 4-58, Maxwell 10-46, Jor. Hillegass 1-10, B. Bollman 4-7, Mock 2-18, K. Miller 1-7, Jon. Hillegass 1-5, Riggleman 1-6
PASSING–Berlin Brothersvalley, Spochart 1-6-2-6, Countryman 1-4-2-24. Chestnut Ridge, Pfister 11-16-0-154, Mock 0-0-0-0.
RECEIVING–Berlin Brothersvalley, Spochart 1-24, C. Blubaugh 1-6. Chestnut Ridge, Weyandt 2-29, Bowser 1-11, Holderbaum 2-30, Gardner 3-43, Whysong 1-23, Nicodemus 1-13, Jon. Hillegass 1-5.