Groves wins first playoff game since 2004 with convincing win over Berkley
Beverly Hills – When Birmingham Groves and Berkley met in week seven, Berkley came out with a narrow 32-29 win as it was the first of three straight losses to end the regular season for the Falcons.
But when the two teams faced off on Saturday afternoon, Groves had a different outcome in mind.
After Berkley trimmed the Groves lead down to 19-13 early in the fourth quarter, Groves scored the next two touchdowns and the defense clamped down, registering three fumble recoveries in the third and fourth quarters to pick up a 35-13 playoff opening win.
Groves head coach Brenan Flaherty said that he’s obviously pleased to see his team earn the playoff opening win and praised his team’s defense for its play against Berkley, holding the Bears to just two scores four weeks after surrendering 32 points to them.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve won a playoff game around here, so it’s a tremendous feeling,” he said. “I can’t really describe it. It’s awesome for us, our guys and our school. They lost earlier in the year, so it’s good to avenge that loss and I’m really proud of the way we played, especially our defensive guys, we’ve been struggling in the past could of weeks and when we played (Berkley), they took it to us and I’m really pumped up.”
Groves now advances to the district final, where it will face off with three-time defending Division 2 state champion Brother Rice next week.
After Berkley’s Michael Harvey cut the deficit to 19-13 with 11:07 left in the third quarter, Groves responded by marching down the field with a touchdown drive of its own as Cedriv Boswell scored on a 23 yard run with 6:52 left to go in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 27-13 lead after the two-point conversion.
Then, with 10:05 left to go in the fourth quarter, quarterback Zach Van Faussien scored on a one yard run to give the Falcons a commanding 35-13 lead after another successful two point conversion.
Defensively in the second half, the Groves defense was suffocating as the Falcons forced four fumbles and recovered three of them, two of which were recovered in Berkley’s end of the field, to stymie the Berkley offense and give the ball back to Van Faussien and the Falcon offense.
Flaherty said that the difference between the first meeting between the two teams and Saturday was his team focused on stopping the run, while crediting Berkley head coach Chris Sikora and quarterback Jake Cummings.
“Coach Sikora is a really talented, sharp, young coach,” he said. ‘I think what we did is underestimated how much option they would run and Jake Cummings, who’s a tough young kid and a heck of a football player. So we focused a lot of our attention to stopping the run game this time around.”
In the first quarter, with Groves already out to a 6-0 after a Davion Curry fumble recovery in the endzone, Berkley responded with a 20 yard touchdown run to knot the game at 6-6.
Groves would go into halftime with a 19-6 lead as Van Faussien first connected with Curry on a 35 yard touchdown to make it 13-6 and Boswell scored on a four yard run late in the first half to make it 19-6.