Berlin Brothersvalley kept pace with the other two remaining unbeaten teams atop the WestPAC standings after using strong defense and special teams play to pull away in the second half and defeat Ferndale 35-0 on Saturday afternoon.
The Mountaineers (3-0) jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, but a staunch effort by the Yellow Jackets defense in the second period kept Ferndale (0-3) within striking distance at the break.
However, two long third-quarter punt returns by Berlin’s Cole Blubaugh helped the Mountaineers tally two touchdowns in a span of just over 2 minutes to break the contest open and cruise to the win.
“We were sluggish in the first half,” Berlin coach Doug Paul said. “Ferndale played tough, but we were able to fix some things and take care of business in the second half.”
The Mountaineers picked up 258 of their 342 total yards on the ground, with the workload being spread among a trio of primary ball carriers. Preston Foor ran for a game-high 94 yards and a score on nine carries, Blubaugh added 50 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while quarterback Will Spochart contributed 71 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, Berlin Brothersvalley limited Ferndale to just 94 total yards, and the Yellow Jackets’ offense never penetrated beyond the Mountaineer 40.
“We played good defense all day,” Paul said.
“Our main goal is to try to improve from week to week, and we got better from last week,” Ferndale coach Shawn Furfari said. “We had some bad penalties and mix-ups on play calling, and you can’t shoot yourself in the foot like that against a good team.”
Berlin Brothersvalley controlled the early action, with two scoring drives on its first two possessions sandwiched around a Ferndale three-and-out. Abe Countryman, who split time at quarterback with Spochart, hit Preston Foor for an 11-yard touchdown to cap off a nine-play opening series. The Mountaineers followed that up with an 11-play, 69-yard march that was finished by Blubaugh’s 7-yard dash to the end zone. Brady Glessner, who was perfect on five PAT’s, split the uprights to make it 14-0 at the 4:39 mark.
The Mountaineers appeared poised to turn the game into an early rout, but the Yellow Jacket defense came up big with a red-zone stop on downs on the ensuing series, and Berlin was forced to punt on its three remaining first-half possessions.
Ferndale received the second-half kickoff with the hope to cut it to a one-score game, but two Yellow Jacket penalties led to a three-and-out and a punt from deep in their own territory.
Blubaugh then returned the ensuing kick 26 yards to the Ferndale 4, and two plays later he punched it in from two yards out.
Blubaugh again provided a special-teams spark on the next Ferndale three-and-out as he took it to the house on a 46-yard return to make it 28-0 at the 7:50 mark of the third.
“Blubaugh is a special player,” Paul said. “Football teams need to be successful in all three phases, and we responded in the second half.”
Berlin completed the scoring in the final seconds of the third quarter when Foor powered into the end zone from three yards out.
The Mountaineers’ win sets up a huge showdown with unbeaten Portage on Friday night.
“Portage is a great rivalry for us,” Paul said.
“It’s going to be a fun game with a couple thousand people there.
“That’s what high school football is all about.”
Ferndale will travel to Conemaugh Valley next Saturday in a battle of teams looking for their first win.
“Our kids and our coaching staff are going to stay positive, “ said Furfari.