DULUTH — It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but head coach Jonathan Sanks is happy his Berkmar Patriots left Cecil Morris Stadium on top.
“We did some good things, but overall it was just sloppy,” Sanks said. “I’m just happy to be walking out of here with a W.”
The Patriots smothered the Duluth Wildcats’ offense all night long, holding the hosts to 87 total yards in a 9-3 victory.
“The defense played, we have high expectations for our defense,” Sanks said. “Those guys have been playing since their freshman year and now they are seniors. No matter what the offense is doing, we are going to play well.”
Duluth started the game with the ball and the Patriot defense immediate went to work as the Wildcats went three-and-out.
After a muffed punt gave Berkmar great field position, senior Jaquan Morris turned a broken pass play into a touchdown on fourth down as he scrambled from the pocket and found the end zone from six yards out for the early lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Berkmar got the ball back after senior Camden Terry fell on a loose ball. However, great pass defense from the Wildcats and a penalties by the Patriots backed them out of field goal position and into a turnover on downs.
Duluth answered back on its following possession as junior quarterback Thad Bell hit freshman wide receiver Jamyest Williams in stride for a 52-yard gain down to the 1-yard line. However, the Berkmar defense came up big and held the Wildcats to a field goal.
The Patriots took the lead into the half and did not look back. They constantly harassed Bell in the backfield, racking up four sacks, and held the Wildcats to minus-16 rushing yards.
As the fourth quarter started, Duluth couldn’t gain an inch on the tenacious Berkmar defense. Backed up in their own territory, a high snap sailed through the hands of Bell and into the back of the end zone for a safety, increasing the Patriots lead to 9-3.
Duluth got the ball back one more time with less than three minutes to go, driving the ball into Patriot territory. However, Berkmar’s D continued to hold tight as it forced fourth down. Junior Kevin Grier hit Williams for a one-yard loss on a screen and Berkmar held on for the victory.
“We’ve been through a lot as a team,” said Sanks. “We began as soon as the season ended in 2012 and we trained our guys to be mentally tough.”
The defense was led by junior defensive end Mamadou Soumahoro as he picked up two sacks on the evening. The Patriots had a total of nine tackles for losses, including four sacks.
Offensively, junior Randy Griffin carried the ball 12 times for 92 yards including a huge 42-yard run late in the fourth. Morris was 11-for-25 including 123 yards passing and one interception.
Duluth was led by senior defensive end Evan Ubakanma with five tackles and two sacks. Senior Bryant Pinkney had two tackles including an interception.
Offensively for the Wildcats, Williams led the way with seven catches for 65 yards while Bell was 11-for-23 on the night with 103 yards passing.
BERKMAR 9, DULUTH 3
Berkmar 7 . 0 . 0 . 2 . — 9
Duluth 3 . 0 . 0 . 0 . — 3
Berkmar: Jaquan Morris 6 run (Rey Orocio kick) 7:44
Duluth: Nikolai Iotav 23 FG, 5:26
Berkmar: Safety, ball snapped out of the end zone, 7:30