Millionaires beat Berwick

By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

BERWICK — The shoul­ders of the Berwick players slumped as Wil­liamsport’s Elliott Walker waltzed into the end zone untouched. Gouged by Treyson Potts and the Millionaires’ running game in the first half, Walker had just scored his second touchdown of the third quarter and it was clear the Bulldogs’ defense was puzzled.

Berwick was down 32 points with under 3 minutes to go during Friday night’s game at Crispin Field, and it was clear the team was fried. As much of a physical burden as it is to play this incendiary Wil­liamsport offense, it appeared to be an even tougher mental challenge.

The Bulldogs were down just 11 points at halftime. By the time the clock rolled to the fourth quarter, Williamsport had invoked the mercy rule on its way to a 56-23 win over Berwick. The Millionaires earned their first win over Berwick since 2010, and just the eighth in program history. They also secured the top seed for the District 2/4 Class 6A subregional tournament which begins next week with a home game against Hazleton.

Oh, and for good measure, Williamsport put the finishing touches on a Wyoming Valley Confer­ence championship last night.

“It’s like a parent watching his children grow up. These players have grown up from the end of last season, through the winter, through the spring and summer and camp, until now,” Williamsport second-year head coach Chuck Crews said. “What you’re seeing now is a group of young men who believe in each other and believe in the coaches. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Williamsport scored 28 points in the third quarter Friday night to turn a game which could have gone either way into a rout. It was the sixth time this year Wil­liamsport scored at least four touchdowns in a quarter.

The Millionaires took an opportunity to put away a pesky Berwick team which will play next week in the District 2 Class AAAA playoffs, and ran with it. Literally.

First it was Walker returning the second-half kick 50 yards to set up his first touchdown catch, a 2-yarder from Isaiah Hankins (13 of 17 204 yards, 4 TDs). Then it was Treyson Potts (17 carries, 177 yards, 3 TDs) dropping jaws and breaking ankles with a spin move to score from 17 yards out. Then it was Hankins, standing tall in the pocket behind a hostile offensive line, dropping a dime to Walker for a 27-yard scoring strike. And then it was Hankins patiently waiting for Jalen Jackson to complete his route so he could put a 12-yard touchdown pass on the tight end’s numbers.

Williamsport’s third quarter last night was a Michelangelo masterpiece. There wasn’t a wasted play call by an offense which ran up 558 yards. There wasn’t a defender these Williamsport skill position players couldn’t juke out of their shoes. There wasn’t a snap Hankins took that the Crispin Field crowd didn’t think had an opportunity to be six points.

And when the 12 minutes of the third quarter had elapsed, the game was over. The reality of the moment set in as the second and third-team players gave the Williamsport starters the rest of the night off. This is a Williamsport team clicking on all cylinders offensively. It’s a Williamsport team which is much improved de­fensively. And it’s a Wil­liamsport team worthy of the league title and top playoff seed it earned last night.

“I think shutting up other teams is what we do best,” Wil­liamsport lineman Kurt Danneker said. “We shut teams down after the half. We do all we can do to not let teams score and put them to bed.”

“We’re in full stride,” said Walker, who caught six passes for 81 yards and a couple touchdowns.

Scoring often in the third quarter is nothing new for this Williamsport team. Last night was the third time this season the Millionaires have scored at least 20 points in the third quarter. For the year, they’re averaging better than 13 points in the third quarter, despite a couple games where the starters were out of the game at the half.

“We’ll chalk it up to some real good halftime adjustments,” Crews said. “Whatever it may be, it’s working so far.”

The Millionaires made a statement from the start of the game last night. The defense dropped Berwick for a loss of yards on five of the Bulldogs’ first eight plays. Hankins ran for 22 yards on the Millionaires’ first play from scrimmage, and Potts went 42 yards on the next play for a touchdown.

The next Williamsport offensive possession lasted 13 plays and covered 68 yards, finishing on a 1-yard scoring run by Potts on fourth down. It was one of two fourth downs Williams­port converted on the drive. And when Berwick blew a coverage, leaving Dante Wright standing all alone in the secondary for a 59-yard touchdown pass, the Millionaires had a 21-0 lead, and the situation already looked dire for a Berwick team which just didn’t have the offensive firepower to match the quick-strike ability of its opponent.

“We have so many weapons,” Walker said. “Just pick your poison.”

“You can’t take everything away. You have to pick your poison with this team,” Crews said. “When Isaiah is dialed in and delivering the ball, Tristan (Connor) caught passes, Jalen caught passes, Dante caught passes. Then Marty (Clark) is running the ball, Treyson is running the ball and Elliott is running the ball. And then, God forbid Isaiah pulls it down to run. How do you defend six people?”

That’s a great question. One which nobody has answered through 10 weeks, and one which Berwick didn’t have an answer for last night.

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