READING>> It was a date circled on both teams’ calendars from, oh, about the moment last season concluded.
It played out that way.
Behind a ferocious offensive line, Wyomissing got 149 yards, two touchdowns on 17 carries and a key late pick on defense from senior Christian Martir to beat Berks Catholic 34-28 and win the Berks League Section 2 title at an overflowing Forino Sports Complex.
This edition of the annual Backyard Brawl featured two 9-0 teams and was the rare game where that level of hype lived up to the expectations.
The unbeaten Spartans (10-0, 6-0 Berks 2), who never trailed, will also grab District 3 Class AA’s top seed heading into next week’s playoffs; the coming weekend announcement is a formality. Berks Catholic (9-1, 5-1) will slot at the No. 2 seed.
Wyomissing got a measure of revenge for heartbreak endings the prior two seasons: The 2013 game was lost when the Spartans went for two following a late touchdown but fell short; the Saints scored late a year ago to snatch victory once again.
“They’ve been division champs the last two years and was nice to get it back,” Wyo veteran head coach Bob Wolfrum said. “We didn’t know how it was going to go tonight because neither of us have been tested. I thought both teams played well. Both teams made mistakes, but both teams battled and it was a great game to be a part of.”
Martir’s night did not start off on the right foot — he fumbled on his second carry, which was also the second snap of the game. The ball fell forward and his team recovered for a first down. On his third rushing attempt, however, Martir announced his presence by ripping off a 40-yard touchdown run off right tackle to give the Spartans an early 7-0 lead.
The early fumble irritated Martir and worked to raise his determination level a notch.
“I made up for it because I was angry at the moment,” Martir said. “I knew I had to fight back for yards and keep pushing.”
Wyo’s trenchmen created paths for Martir to operate. It seemed as though every time the Spartans needed a key conversion or a big play, Martir was able to provide it with the help of his line.
“Our line was forcing their defenders to the edge and I was cutting it back up the middle and fighting for more yards.”
It gave the Saints fits.
“He ran really hard, and his line did a great job of creating creases for him to run through,” Berks Catholic head coach Rick Keeley said of Martir. “So the credit goes to their line up front doing what they did. He’s a good back. They give him some space, he takes advantage of it.”
The Saints have a special group of backs as well, paced the Lutz brothers, Isaac and Cooper. Isaac Lutz scored three touchdowns — including an electrifying 90-yard punt return early in the second quarter that knotted the contest at 14 — and finished with 82 yards on 12 carries.
Lutz also overcame leg cramps in the third quarter to return to the ballgame and score for a third time, this one a two-yard jaunt, that polished off a nine-play, 43-yard drive to pull the Saints to within 34-28 with 4:34 left.
Berks Catholic got the ball back with 3:00 minutes play at its own 20, but the drive self-destructed on a pair a crucial flags that kept the Saints bottled up. A desperation fourth-and-23 heave from freshman quarterback Terrance Derr to Lutz fell five yards shy of a first down at the 26, with 2:01 left. Wyo ran out the clock.
Clinging to a 28-21 lead, Martir contributed a crucial interception from his linebacker spot of Derr’s first pass attempt of the game, at midfield, which came on the final snap of the third quarter.
The turnover led to a breathing-room touchdown nine plays later, when Wyo QB Charlie Tonneslan found Colin Smith in the flat from a yard out on third-and-goal to give the Spartans a 34-21 lead. The drive was set in motion by Brandon Workman’s two-yard run on fourth down at the BC 31 and kicked into a higher gear on the next play, a 23-yarder from Martir. The PAT was blocked.
Friday night’s game was a special showdown Wolfrum won’t soon forget.
“Big game, big crowd, local rivalry, both teams undefeated,” Wolfrum said. “All week long there’s been a buzz in the air at practice and you know it’s at a different level.
“These games are neat to be a part of. It’s no fun when you’re mercy-ruling people. These are the games that you play for and you remember and hopefully we’ll have some more.”
Wyomissing – 14 7 7 6 — 34
Berks Catholic – 7 7 7 7 — 28
W – Chris Martir 40 run (Connor Mendel kick), 8:28
BC – Issac Lutz 3 run (Alex Gundersen kick), 5:05
W – Martir 2 run (Mendel kick), :17
BC – Lutz 90 punt return (Gundersen kick), 8:54
W – Colin Smith 6 run (Mendel kick), 4:44
BC – Marcus Wilson 7 run (Gundersen kick), 7:57
W – Brandon Westwood 3 run (Mendel kick), 1:02
W – Smith 1 pass from Charlie Tonneslan (kick blocked), 9:05
BC – Lutz 2 run (Gundersen kick), 4:34