Berwick High School quarterback Mitchell Sanford makes a move while teammate Noah Allhayek blocks during Friday's 49-15 victory against Ascension Episcopal for Berwick's homecoming. The Panthers will begin District 8-3A play this week when they travel to face Erath. (The Daily Review/Bill Decker)
Big 2nd half lifts Berwick past Ascension Episcopal
Berwick erupted in the second half of Friday’s homecoming game to upend Ascension Episcopal 49-15 in front of large crowd at Geisler Stadium.
Before the game, however, Berwick sophomore Keyon Singleton took a knee during the national anthem. NFL players began to kneel or sit during The Star Spangled Banner in mass last week after President Donald Trump called for all protesting players to be fired. The protest started in 2016 when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling. Kaepernick has stated that he started kneeling to bring attention police brutality against minorities.
Many fans brought American flags to the game and sang along with the anthem.
In the fourth quarter, a verbal altercation brought police to the bleachers, and a man was asked to leave the stadium.
As for the game, Berwick (4-1) never trailed. The Panthers took the opening kickoff and marched downfield on a 12-play, 87-yard drive that was capped with a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mitchell Sanford to Josh Carver with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter. Barrett Hover added the point-after-attempt for a 7-0 Panther lead.
Ascension Episcopal (4-1) came into the game unbeaten and ranked No. 9 in last week’s Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A poll. The Blue Gators got on the scoreboard when quarterback Cole Simon hooked up with a wide-open Seth Kerkstetter behind the defense for a 70-yard touchdown with 1:23 left in the opening quarter. The point-after attempt failed for a 7-6 Berwick lead.
Berwick answered right away when running back Josh Jones broke free and darted 74 yards for a touchdown on the Panther’s second play from scrimmage. Hover’s kick extended the Berwick lead to 14-6 with 58 seconds left.
Ascension Episcopal stormed back again with a 39-yard scoring pass from Simon to a wide-open Mac Kelly at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter. A two-point conversion pass failed, so Berwick led Ascension Episcopal 14-12.
The Blue Gators were using picks and rubs to get receivers so open.
“We still have kids doing their own thing out there, and they know better,” Berwick Coach Eric Holden said. “We’re not communicating well, so we’re going to work on a little cardiovascular training on Monday to get their minds straight.”
Berwick got the ball at the Ascension Episcopal 48-yard line with 6:17 left in the first half.
It took the Panthers seven plays to reach the end zone when Sanford found Collin Louviere on a 23-yard scoring pass with 3:29 remaining. Hover’s kick extended Berwick’s lead to 21-12.
Ascension Episcopal added a 38-yard field goal to close half, trailing Berwick 21-15.
Berwick scored on all four second-half possessions to blow the game open.
Josh Jones had 15 carries for 202 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panther’s rushers. Sanford carried 13 times for 97 yards, while Kenan Jones had 2 carries for 11 yards.
Sanford continued his hot play, completing 22-of-41 passes for 322 yards with four touchdowns and an interception.
His favorite targets were Kenan Jones with eight receptions for 129 yards with a touchdown and Carver with six catches for 102 yards and a score. Josh Jones added four catches 26 yards while Collin Louviere had two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown. Denver Jenkins had a catch for 28 yards and a touchdown, and Travis Whitehead rounded out the pass receivers with a catch for 12 yards.
Sanford closed the game with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. The first score went to Kenan Jones on a 32-yard pass, and the second score went to Jenkins on a 28-yarder.
“The win tonight was great, especially considering what it was last week,” Holden said. “The offense scored a bunch of points, and I think the defense played pretty well.”
Holden, mourning the death of his grandfather, still had Newman, who handed Berwick its first loss of the season a week ago with a 37-27 defeat, on his mind.
“Ascension Episcopal is a good solid well-coached team, and I’m happy to get the win, but we should have beat Newman last week,” he said. “We just made too many mistakes to start the game and put ourselves in too big a hole to climb out of.”
Berwick’s offense totaled 632 yards in Friday’s win, 322 passing and 310 rushing.
Berwick opens District 8-3A play Friday at Erath (0-5).