Berwick leads early, but drops district opener

ERATH — For something that started out so right, Thursday night’s road game and District 9-3A opener against the Erath Bobcats turned out seriously wrong for the Berwick Panthers as they lost 33-12.

The Bobcats absorbed two quick-strike touchdowns by the Panthers, rebounding from an early deficit to pile on 33 unanswered points.

“They worked their butts off,” said Berwick Head Coach Craig Brodie of his players. “We’re like a piece of fruit. We’re just not ripe yet. We have to do the things in practice to get better.”

Berwick took advantage of a long opening kickoff return with a six-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw from starting quarterback Reed Leonard to take a 6-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage.

After Erath went three-and-out on its next possession, the Panthers dug out some trickery from their playbook.

On the first play of the drive, Leonard handed off to receiver Matt Skelton, who pitched back to Raheem Colar. Colar let loose with a halfback pass and found a wide open Brad Lemoine down field.

Lemoine cruised in for a 54-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter.

Erath had first-and-goal from the Berwick four yard line after a Ty Bares 64-yard kickoff return on the next possession, but an interception ended the threat.

Berwick helped the Bobcat cause with an interception toss five plays later, though, and Coy Clostio capitalized on the mistake with a six-yard touchdown to cut the Berwick lead to 12-6.

In the second quarter, Erath benefited from a Colar fumble, which Bobcat defensive back Austin Domingues recovered. Clostio got the Bobcats into the red zone on a 27-yard run, and Erath quarterback Jimmy Jordan added the punctuation with a one-yard run up the gut.

After Kullan Romero added the extra point, one of his three on the night, the Bobcats had come back to take the lead at 13-12.

The second half was all Erath.

Clostio and Aaron Green tacked on rushing touchdowns, and Bares added a 37-yard punt return for a score.

Clostio led all rushers with 118 yards on 16 carries. Bares rushed seven times for 89 yards.

Jordan was 1-for-5 with an interception.

Berwick’s Leonard and Colar combined for eight completions on 19 pass attempts for 146 yards.

The Panthers had -31 yards rushing, however, and coughed the ball up six times.

“We are getting better,” said Brodie. “Hopefully, down the road, as the season gets shorter, we’ll get better every week and every day.

“I’m very proud of the kids. They took this loss hard, and that’s a good thing.”

Berwick (0-4, 0-1) hosts Patterson (3-0, 0-0) next week, as it continues the long trek through District 9-3A.

“That’s a rivalry thing,” said Brodie of next week’s game. “They’re right next door. We know how good they are, but we’re going to play (hard) like we’ve done every week.”

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