Many of us are still buzzing over Penn State's 24-21 upset victory over Ohio State. I mean come on. The Buckeyes were the number 2 team in the nation and the Nittany Lions were an 18 point dog. We weren't supposed to win. but our boys somehow found a way in front of 105k crazy bleached fans.
Then I got to thinking. Scary thought I know. So how does James Franklin's signature win rank amongst the greatest upsets? Okay. It was impressive, but I don't think it will ever sniff the top ten. That blocked field goal sure was cool, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Miracle of Ice. Nova over Georgetown? How about Buster Douglass? Jimmy V. and the Miracle Mets? The Colts over the Jets in Super Bowl III? Heck Upset was even the name of a horse. And how about that heavyweight Olympic wrestling dude? Feel me?
Then I went back to thinking. Twice in one day. That's just spooky. I have witnessed many great upsets in 39 years—as a player, a coach, and as a fan. But there was one in particular that will always stick out from the rest.
No. It wasn't knocking off the back-to-back AAAA State Champions my senior year at Martz Hall. Yes. The Millionaires stunned the Chester Clippers in front of a very hostile crowd. I didn't play that game (coaches’ decision) but I had the best seat in the house for that OT thriller.
No. It wasn't that memorable night in the Magic Dome when my Montoursville Warriors defied all logic by shocking the Millionaires 51-44 either. Sure we had a decent team but Williamsport was 10 times better. Yes. The stars were aligned for the FBLA and I always tell folks that if we played them another 20 times. They'd win all 20. Yes. That was quite an upset. But...
The Berwick Bulldogs were by far the best team in the state and were ranked #3 in the nation. Legendary Coach George Curry and his talented football squad were riding a 32 regular season win streak. The dawgs were just loaded in 1994 and they had won their previous 52 Wyoming Valley Conference games. Berwick never lost at home. I mean never. Often times their opponents didn't even want to take the field. The Millionaires didn't stand a chance.
"It was an amazing college like atmosphere," explained the then Junior corner Marc Hess via Skype. "Berwick was legit and the entire town packed those stands. There was a mob of fans waiting for us when we got off the bus. I'm not kidding. They'd be barking and yelling. Cannons and sirens plus pregame fireworks. People were everywhere. It was just crazy."
The Williamsport Millionaires struck first when Junior defensive end Matt Krise intercepted Bulldog QB Dave Robbin's pass and waltzed 12 yards for a touchdown. Just a few minutes later, the Millionaires scored again. This time Hess picked off another Robbins pass and returned it to the Berwick 6 yard line. Senior running back Jamie Allen took it in from there. Berwick turned it over on the very next possession and Allen kicked it in again. And just like that Williamsport had a 21-0 lead with 12:00 to play in the first half.
"Those three early turnovers were huge," Hess continued. "It took the crowd out of the game and it gave us so much confidence. We then knew that we could play with these guys. And for the record. I finished with 11 tackles and 2 picks."
Berwick scored a touchdown just before the half and seemed to have found some momentum. But that all came to a screeching halt when Williamsport's Steve Waugh botched the second half kick but calmly picked it up and returned it 65 yards to the Bulldog 37 yard line. Allen scored again. This time from the 11.
Both teams exchanged rabbit punches but the Bulldogs couldn't get any closer as they ran out of time. Williamsport did the unthinkable. They marched into Crispin Field and not only did they win but they steamrolled the Berwick Bulldogs 42-29. Their victory sent shockwaves throughout the entire state.
"We were good but they were awesome," then Junior Matt Krise tweeted. "That might have been the biggest win in Williamsport football history. No one thought we had a chance. And that night the Millionaires were the best team in the state. We felt like we won a state championship."
That victory is extra sweet around the holidays for my dear friend as Matt's now brother in law Josh George was Berwick's All State center that year. Sorry Josh. Wow. What a magical night. Allen was unstoppable as he finished the game with 144 yards on 37 punishing carries. The Millionaire D stifled quarterback Dave Robbins all night intercepting the Boston College signee 4 times.
You have no idea how good that Berwick team was. To demonstrate. That was their only loss that year and they went on the win three straight AAA state championships. A new streak started for Coach Curry the very next week. His Berwick Bulldogs won the next 41 straight after that Williamsport defeat. Unbelievable.
Crispin Field went ghostly silent when the clock finally struck 0:00. Well except for the jubilation of the Williamsport parents and a handful of rabid fans. My friends and I tried slipping through security in hopes of celebrating with our mates. But only a few managed to make it. I remember turning to a chum and asked, "What should we do now?" He grabbed a shag ball without hesitation and told me to go deep. But before he could throw me a pass—my friend was tackled by a Rent-a-Cop named Bob. And there I was all alone in the middle of Crispin. I heard a disgruntled fan cry out. "Hey kid. Got off our field!" SORRY LADY. THIS IS OUR FIELD TONIGHT. Sporting Matters. Cheers.