By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
Over the first two weeks of the 2013 football season, the Grand Valley Mustangs and Berkshire Badgers were mirror images of each other.
Both had mistakes early in their openers that put them in big holes they didn’t get out of. The next week, they both met monsters and took one to the chin.
When they squared off at Dr. Willliam A. Reed Stadium on Friday, it was almost certain that something had to give. Berkshire used a 43-yard touchdown pass from Gordy Cossick to Keanu Martin with 2:08 left in the game to claim a hard-fought 21-14 non-conference win over the Mustangs.
“I think we played some really solid team offense and defense in the second half tonight,” Berkshire coach Josh DeWeese said. “It was a total team effort and victory. Grand Valley played well, but we made some adjustments in the second half and our kids executed them almost perfectly. They really did their jobs.”
For the Mustangs (0-3), it was a case of familiar occurrences of the negative variety at inopportune times that hurt most.
“We came into the season with our line as our strong point,” Grand Valley coach John Glavickas said. “We have played very hard, and done some good things, but mistakes such as penalties especially, have hurt us badly. It’s frustrating, but we just have to work our way through them.”
Big plays went both ways to keep fans on the edge of their seats all night.
The pass play from Cossick to Martin was set up by huge efforts from both teams.
GV had stopped Berkshire (1-2) on downs at the Mustang 5 with just more than eight minutes to play. On second down from the GV 22, Jake Vormelker rolled left, was stopped by an eager Badger defensive front, rolled back to his right and found Matt Moodt wide open inside Berkshire territory. The toss and catch were perfect, and Moodt was dragged down from behind by the last Badger at the 1.
A common bugaboo for GV reared its head in the form of two penalites, forcing a fourth and goal at the 6. Vormelker’s pass was caught, but out of bounds.
A Cody Charvet run of 30 yards got some breathing room for Berkshire, and from the GV 43, a fourth-down pass over the middle from Cossick to Martin saw a GV defender go for the interception and barely miss.
Martin didn’t miss the ball, and dashed for the gamewinner.
Grand Valley had played well in the first half, but overall, penalties (9 for 61 yards) stopped any momentum.
“Every week, we want to step up and play better,” DeWeese said. “Tonight, Nick Hunt stepped up and made several big plays for us on defense. Everybody made big plays when we had to have them, then Martin stepped up with his big one to score.”
Ben Blechschmid paced a tough Badger ground game with 85 yards on 21 carries, but was limited in second half duty with a minor knee injury. Others stepped up.
“I’ve had some trouble with the knee before,” Blechschmid said. “We tried to rest it in the second half, and Cody (Charvet) really came up big.”
The latter ground his way to 69 yards on 13 carries, with two of them coming after several broken tackles in the second half to maintain ball control for Berkshire.
Vormelker had done the same thing in the first half gaining 67 tough yards for the Mustangs. A key to the win was that the Mustang signal caller gained just 13 yards in the second half under constant harrassment.
Vormelker did pass for 184 yards on 9-of-16 passing as his receivers had no trouble eluding Berkshire defenders, but under constant pressure and a shadow on every play in the second half, he didn’t quite have the freedom to find his teammates in the second half. It proved to be the difference.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.