Berkshire Kings Fall to Southern Vermont
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- If they kept official stats on Berkshire Kings football games, you would be hard-pressed to look at a box score and figure out how the Southern Vermont Storm beat the Kings, 18-14, on Saturday afternoon.
The Kings outrushed their visitors, 146-89. Berkshire quarterback Joe Wiggins threw for 159 yards versus the 22 yards the Storm gained through the air. The Kings did commit one more turnover, but the difference there was an interception on a desperation throw on the game's last play.
No, the real difference in the game came in the overlooked, sometimes unreported stat called "miscellaneous yards." Those were the yards produced by an errant snap on a second-quarter punt attempt.
With the Kings up 8-0 and facing a fourth-and-10 at their own 32, the snap sailed over the punter's head and toward the goal line. Southern Vermont recovered at the 1 yard line, and one play later, Greg Wescott plunged into the end zone to make it 8-6.
Southern Vermont scored two more times before the Kings could make a valiant fourth-quarter comeback effort. The Storm stayed perfect to maintain a stranglehold on first place in the New England Football League's Vermont Division.
Berkshire (1-3) overcame an early turnover for an impressive start at Reid Middle School.
The Kings fumbled at midfield on their first possession but forced Southern Vermont (4-0) into a three-and-out.
After the punt, Berkshire took over on its 12 and marched 82 yards before its drive stalled on the 6. Again, the Kings' defense came up big, forcing a fumble that it recovered in the end zone for the game's first score. Wiggins ran in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Berkshire's defense, which was lit up for 330 yards and four touchdowns in the teams' first meeting, held Southern Vermont without a first down in the first half on Saturday and went to half-time clinging to an 8-6 lead.
The Storm rallied to start the third quarter with a 55-yard drive that was helped by a key offsides call on what would have been an incomplete third-down pass. Will Cole capped the drive with a 1-yard keeper to make it 12-8.
Southern Vermont then scored on its first possession of the fourth quarter to make it a two-score game. This time, a 25-yard punt return by Nate Sweet set up the Storm with a first-and-goal at Berkshire's 6. Berkshire's defense held for three downs before Cole completed a 4-yard pass on fourth down to make it 18-8.
The Kings lost the ball on downs at midfield on their ensuing possession, but again their defense held, forcing a fumble that Steven Sumpter returned 40 yards to the Storm 45 with 3 minutes, 58 seconds left.
Wiggins ran three times for 24 yards and completed three passes for 21 -- the last 15 to Sumpter for the score to make it 18-14 with 2:13 on the clock.
After Berkshire stopped Southern Vermont on three straight running plays, it got the ball back on a punt at its 24 with 1:38 on the clock. Wiggins completed two passes for 44 and got to the 37. But a procedure call backed Berkshire up to the 42 with six seconds left, Wiggins' final pass was picked off to end the game.
Berkshire is home again next week against the Vermont Ravens. After opening the season with three straight road games, the Kings play three of their next four at home.