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Hazleton’s stifling defense powers them past Berwick

Tagged under: District 2, Gameday Hub, News

| October 29, 2022

Hazleton QB #14 Tyler Wolfe fights for extra yards against the Berwick Defense

The Hazleton cougars entered their Friday night matchup with a impressive 7-2 record. Head Coach Dennis Buchman’s bunch is quite possibly the best team they’ve had in over a decade. From a team that just a few years ago struggled year in and year out, they have turned it around this year and are a real threat in 6A.

On the flip side, Mike Bennett’s Bulldogs have dropped back to back mercy rule losses coming into this game. Berwick had a heartbreaking loss last year against the Cougars, they were looking for revenge tonight. With a win, they would lock in a home playoff game at Crispin Field. With a loss, the possibly for a home playoff game was alive but slim.

Hazelton is led by their star Senior playmakers. The first of the pair, Matt Buchman(RB), was as advertised tonight. Buchman set the tone on the Defensive side and was able to control the tempo and grind the clock to get a Hazleton win. The story of the day on the Hazleton Cougars side was regarding the other side of the dynamic pair, Senior Quarterback Tyler Wolfe who went down with an injury and was unable to finish the game. He was in crutches and had ice nursing his leg. His status for next week’s playoff game is currently up in the air.

On the Berwick side, they are coming off a 56-21 crushing loss to the #1 team in the District 2 4A playoff tournament, the Crestwood Comets. There was hope as Berwick made the half hour trip to Harman-Geist Memorial Field, after all Berwick has been the “big brother” in this series over the last 10+ years. That was not the case on Friday night though.

In what is most likely the final home game the Seniors at Hazleton will play, they did not let it go to waste. Early on, Tyler Wolfe connected on a deep pass to find the Endzone to put the Cougars up 6-0 early. After a penalty on the PAT attempt, Hazleton lined up to go for it and got the extra two. Around halfway into the first Quarter, Hazleton had led 8-0.

The Defense today was the main reason the Hazleton Cougars won today. It was a “bend but don’t break” effort , Berwick did get the ball into enemy territory on a decent amount of drives today, but zero points to show for it.

With the clock dwindling down in the second half, Hazleton struck again. Wolfe found a man on the rollout and he dodged some Berwick Defenders to make it 14-0 at the Half Hazelton over Berwick.

The common theme for Berwick tonight can be summed up in just 4 letters : P-U-N-T. Drive after drive stalled out and the punting unit would trot onto the field. Many would bash the Berwick offense for the lack of production, but instead let’s praise this stout Hazleton Cougars defense. Hazelton finishes the year allowing just 14.1 points per game, including six games which they allowed 7 or less points.

As we went into the 3rd quarter, Matt Buchman found the Endzone to extend the lead to 20-0. The score would remain there until the Final Buzzer sounded

For Berwick, backup QB Ethan Lear got some playtime as the starter Lonczynski struggled against a great defense. On the upside, the Dawgs Defense was much improved after allowing 56 and 28 in the last two weeks. At the end of the day, the ultimate reset has came, the PIAA Playoffs. Some would say the season starts now, that the regular season is merely a preliminary test and the real deal starts now. Berwick will start the District 2 4A playoffs with a home game and the overall #4 seed in their districts tournament.

Hazleton gets to 8-2 and will play on the road in the feared 6A PIAA tournament. Can their defense carry them to win their district, play into November, and ultimately play into December.

So here we are, feels like just yesterday the anticipation for the regular season was the talk of the town. Now, we shift to the playoffs and the season could be gone for any given team in just one game.

BERWICK NEXT WEEK vs North Pocono 11/4 (PIAA Playoff) 7PM


GOOD: Run Defense

BAD: Special teams

UGLY: Overall offensive performance


GOOD: Controlling the tempo

BAD: 2nd half offense

UGLY: Silly Penalties 

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