Berkley nips Groves to stay alive in OAA Blue race
BERKLEY – Flashing some wildnerness-sharpened choppers and playing with poise and ferocity down the stretch, the host Berkley Bears rallied for a thrilling 32-29 win over Birmingham Groves in front of a jam-packed Homecoming crowd at Hurley Field Friday night.
Austen Wood’s 30-yard field goal with 1:48 was the difference and vaulted Berkley (6-1, 4-1) to the victory and into the playoffs in one fell swoop.
Farmington (6-1) now stands alone in first place in the OAA Blue, with Berkley and Groves (6-1) tied for second.
It was Wood’s first field goal of the year and cracked a streak of four straight missed potential game-winning kicks this fall for his squad.
“I had to answer the bell and everything just fell into place,” said the hulking junior running back-linebacker of his game-winner Friday.
Entering Week 7, Groves (6-1, 5-1) had been undefeated. Falcons’ running back Cedric Boswell paced Groves in the stat sheet with a game-high 225 yards to go along with a pair of long touchdown scampers (51, 67 yards respectively) in the first half.
Groves senior quarterback Zach Van Faussien’s 44-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter gave the Falcons a 29-21 lead at the half. Berkley answered in the third quarter when senior field general, Jake Cummings hit Michael Harvey with a 40-yard touchdown strike and then ran in the two-point conversion to knot the game at 29 apiece.
Gashing the Groves’ defense for numerous big plays at the controls of the Bears’ option attack, Cummings had 195 yards passing, 110 yards rushing and four touchdowns, two on the ground and two in the air.
In addition to his game-tying touchdown grab, Harvey was even more important on the defensive side of the ball out of the secondary. He had the game-securing interception on Groves’ last drive of the night and another one in the first half where he stepped in front of a Falcons’ pass at the goal-line.
“We really slugged it out tonight and in the end it just wasn’t in the cards,” Groves head coach Brendan Flaherty said. “I take my hats off to Berkley, they played great and out-toughed us.”