Berlin Brothersvalley starts fast, pulls away from Penns Manor in Appalachian Bowl

Oct. 30—WINDBER — Berlin Brothersvalley produced another historic performance in the final Appalachian Bowl at Windber Stadium on Saturday night.

The Mountaineers put the finishing touches on an undefeated regular season and gave the WestPAC a second straight Applachian Bowl victory in the final year of the conference's existence.

Berlin Brothersvalley notched its eighth shutout of the season, this time against previously undefeated Heritage Conference champion Penns Manor, 35-0.

"We tell the kids they may not understand this now, but 20 or 30 years from now, this is something you will remember," said Berlin Brothersvalley coach Doug Paul, who played for the Mountaineers in the 1987 Appalachian Bowl at Point Stadium. "I remember losing this game. Twenty or 30 years from now, this is something they'll remember, finishing off an undefeated season."

The Mountaineers (10-0), who open the District 5-8 Class 2A playoffs next week at home against Bedford (7-3), have outscored opponents by a cumulative 445-27 through 10 weeks.

The Mountaineers forced two fumbles that sidetracked the Comets (9-1) offense early.

Junior safety-quarterback Pace Prosser intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards for a score to thwart another Penns Manor drive.

"We call those takeaways. We take those away. The defense played lights out again," Paul said. "That's what we've been hanging our hat on all year.

"The defensive coaches had them prepared, had them in position. It's a great group to coach."

On offense, Prosser completed 9 of 19 passes for 202 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Holby McClucas caught touchdown passes of 35 and 23 yards, and the senior standout ran for a 3-yard score.

Ryan Blubaugh had four catches for 72 yards. Will Latuch had three catches for 50 yards, and Josiah Rock had a 22-yard TD reception.

"We told our guys if we can get up by two or three scores, we're going to make them uncomfortable," Paul said of a run-heavy Penns Manor offense that entered the game with 2,936 rushing yards and 37 TDs on the ground. "Make them do things they're not comfortable with.

"They had some plays on us. The defense bent, but didn't break again. The offense played lights out again."

Berlin Brothersvalley dominated the first half, limiting Penns Manor's potent offense from breaking any big plays or getting into a rhythm.

"We talk about it all week, preparation," Prosser said. "We just put ourselves in a position to succeed. The coaching staff does a great job with that."

Berlin Brothersvalley took the opening kickoff and moved 72 yards in seven plays, a drive capped by Prosser's 22-yard touchdown pass to Rock, who was alone in the end zone. Connor Montgomery's extra-point kick made it 7-0 at 9:22.

On Penns Manor's ensuing drive, Comets quarterback Max Hill lost the handle before he could make a pass. The ball fell to the turf, and Grant Mathias recovered for the Mountaineers. Mathias took it to the Penns Manor 3-yard line, setting up McClucas' touchdown run on the next play to make it 14-0.

In the second quarter, Penns Manor had an eight-play drive, but with a receiver open on the sideline, Hill released a fluttering pass that Prosser caught for an interception that he returned 55 yards for a TD and 21-0 lead with 7:00 left in the half.

"I just sit back there at free safety and try to keep the lid on everything," Prosser said. "I just saw the ball go up and went and got it."

Prosser hit McClucas on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 left in the opening half, and Montgomery's kick set a 28-0 halftime score.

"Pace is special," Paul said. "We've got a lot of special kids here."

Prosser passed to an open McClucas inside the 10 and he ran it into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown that put a running clock into motion with Berlin up 35-0 at 7:33 of the third quarter.

"Holby is sick as a dog. He pulled off a Michael Jordan tonight," Paul said, referring to a legendary NBA playoff performance by a flu-stricken Jordan during the 1997 NBA Finals.

Even one of the rare plays that didn't go Berlin Brothersvalley's way revealed a positive for the Mountaineers.

Penns Manor sacked Prosser on the Mountaineers' opening drive.

"Surprisingly, the first time he's been sacked all season. In Week 10," Paul said. "That's a credit to that offensive line that's in front.

"We told them there are going to be plays, we had on film, they're going to rush six, seven guys and we're going to block them with five. We told the receivers you've got to get open quick. We're getting the ball out quick."

Prosser praised his line as well as the receivers and backs who caught passes after quick releases.

"Up front did a great job," Prosser said. "(Penns Manor) brought six guys every time. We only have five blocking but they did a great job picking up everybody. Receivers got off the ball quick and found open spots."

Since the Appalachian Bowl reboot in 2016, the Heritage Conference won four times and the WestPAC won twice. No game was played during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic season.

Ligonier Valley won the first four titles in one-sided fashion, Windber won a blowout in 2021, and Berlin closed out this era of a bowl game with roots to the 1973 season in the Appalachian Conference. The average margin of victory in the six games was 43.8.