Defense fuels Berkshire’s win over Lutheran West

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BURTON-Berkshire used a strong defensive effort to knock off visiting Lutheran West on Friday, 28-7.

The Badgers’ defense bottled up the Longhorn offense for most of the night as they racked up six sacks, four fumbles and a handful of tackles for loss as they moved to 3-0 on the season for this first time in over 20 years.

J.J. Perrin led the way for the Badgers on defense and offense with 3 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a rushing touchdown.

“Heart and soul,” Berkshire coach Josh DeWeese said about Perrin’s impact on the team. “He’s one of the hardest workers in the weight room and he’s a leader.”

Berkshire’s senior quarterback Jacob Brown kept the offense rolling with his arm and legs as he tallied two touchdown passes and one touchdown run.

Josh Brown and Blake Jenkins each had one receiving touchdown.

Lutheran West struggled to overcome turnovers and penalties for most of the night as the Longhorns fell to 1-2 on the year.

Junior running back Manny Diaz scored the only touchdown of the night for the Longhorns on an 86-yard run with 40 seconds left in the game.

“Getting out early, they got a few gashes on us on that first drive then we started to pick it up,” DeWeese said. “Our linebackers started to come out and fill in, our defensive ends stood strong on the outside, we had some nice hits from the secondary and they just started tightening up as a team.”

A combination of strong defense and unforced errors by both teams left the game scoreless at the end of the first quarter.

Berkshire looked to build momentum early in the second quarter after Perrin recovered a fumbled snap at the Longhorn 10-yard line, but the Longhorns held up and forced a missed field goal.

Lutheran West was able to move the ball on its next drive, but the Longhorns ultimately were forced to punt, setting up the Badgers at midfield.

A few plays later, Jake Brown completed a pass Josh Brown on the sideline who broke free for a 38-yard touchdown giving the Badgers a 7-0 lead.

“Really what made the defense play a lot better was that first touchdown,” DeWeese said. “That momentum-changer; same thing as last week. We had a nice momentum change on that touchdown pass and moved forward from there.”

On the ensuing Longhorn possession, Perrin flew into the backfield and hit Greg Fuentes on his blindside forcing a fumble. The Badgers recovered at the Longhorns’ 11.

Three plays later, Perrin capitalized on the big play and powered in for a 1-yard touchdown pushing the lead to 14-0.

The Badgers continued their stellar defensive performance with two sacks on the final possession of the first half.

The Longhorns looked motivated to start the second half as Jacob Parrella came up with a sack on the first play of the quarter and the Badgers were forced into a 3-and-out.

However, the Longhorns muffed the punt and Josh Tribuzzo recovered which quickly flipped momentum back to the Badgers.

The Badgers were able to score quickly after the fumble as Brown found Blake Jenkins for an 8-yard touchdown pass extending the lead to 21-0.

Both teams struggled with penalties throughout the remainder of the third quarter as the teams traded punts.

“They called a tight game for both sides,” DeWeese said regarding his team’s penalty troubles. “We got on a lot of them. We had a lot of big plays called back and we were fortunate to continue fighting through those penalties and move forward.”

Another fumble early in the fourth quarter by the Longhorns gave the Badgers a great opportunity to put the game out of reach.

A 29-yard carry by Blake Jenkins set up Jake Brown for a 9-yard touchdown run with 9:28 left in the game.

The Badgers’ defense looked as though it would complete the shutout, but the Longhorns would not quit.

Manny Diaz broke free for an 86-yard touchdown run on the Longhorns’ final possession of the game to cut the Badger lead to 28-7.

“The only thing that was going through my mind was ‘we can’t lose on a blowout,’” Diaz said after the game. “Overall, I feel like we did good. We tried our hardest, but next week we’re definitely going to bounce back. That’s our attitude.”

Lutheran West will look to get back into the win column as they host 3-0 Independence next Friday. Berkshire will look to keep the hot streak alive as they host 0-3 Crestwood.