SNELLVILLE - Special teams play is usually an overlooked aspect of a football game, but for Berkmar it was nothing short of spectacular as it propelled the Patriots to a 20-17 win over host Shiloh on Friday night.
Berkmar struck early when cornerback Kadeem Wise took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score and a quick 6-0 lead. A late punt return by Nick Henry also set up the Patriots' game-winning touchdown.
"Sometimes when you have a run like that on the opening kickoff sometimes your kids think that it is going to be easy and you have a letdown," Berkmar head coach John Thompson said. "That was my first thought."
Berkmar seemed to have a bit of a letdown as Shiloh controlled the tempo for the rest of the half, culminating a lengthy drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Sam Muse. The Generals lost out on a opportunity as Berkmar made a special teams blunder, when the ball was snapped over the head of punter Michael Sealand, who was tackled at his own 7-yard line. However, Muse fumbled the ball into the end zone two plays later, as Berkmar escaped with the score unchanged.
"We had one bad snap but we overcame that, thank goodness," Thompson said.
Shiloh added on to that lead later in the quarter, thanks to a dazzling 39-yard catch and run by tailback Eugene Glenn that saw him break four tackles to set up a short field goal and a 10-6 lead. The Patriots came out of the half and got another big play when quarterback Xaviir Briggs found Eugene Murry down the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown catch and run that gave Berkmar the lead, 13-10.
Glenn gave Shiloh a boost with a 41-yard run that put the ball in Berkmar territory and followed it up with a 28-yard TD run to give his team a 17-13 lead.
Following a failed third-down conversion, Berkmar safety Nick Henry returned a punt 61 yards to the Shiloh 7-yard line, resulting in a 7-yard TD run by Anthony Thompson. Shiloh battled back and had the ball in Berkmar territory before Berkmar linebacker Samir Mustafic intercepted a Mark Wright pass inside the Patriots' 15-yard line to seal the win.
Berkmar 20, Shiloh 17
Berkmar: Kadeem Wise 90 kick return (kick failed) 11:47
Shiloh: Sam Muse 3 run (Cooper Davis kick) 10:01
Shiloh: Davis 24 FG, :25
Berkmar: Eugene Murry 75 pass form Xaviir Briggs (Ben Wibonele kick) 8:23
Shiloh: Eugene Glenn 28 run (Davis kick) 2:56
Berkmar: Anthony Thompson 7 run (Wibonele kick) 7:50