West Branch toppled by Bellwood-Antis|
Saturday, September 14, 2013
By Tyler Kolesar Staff Writer
BELLWOOD - The West Branch Warriors came into Bellwood-Antis Memorial Stadium Friday night knowing they would be in an uphill battle against the perennial District 6 powerhouse Blue Devils.
A touchdown by Bellwood-Antis only 3:10 into the game would set the pace, as the Blue Devils defeated West Branch by a final of 54-14.
West Branch coach Lester Smeal cited that numbers have been greatly hindering the Warriors, as there are currently only 17 players on the roster. With that roster size, Coach Smeal said it's really hard to be competitive.
"It's almost like a scrimmage for us because we can't line up with a full team (during practices)," said Smeal. "We're coaching as the game's going on. We're learning. We're just trying to get better week to week."
West Branch received the opening kick and tried to get its running game going, but to no avail.
A three-and-out gave Bellwood-Antis the ball at the West Branch 43-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Jake Burch rolled out left and found Josh Gates for a 40-yard score with 8:50 left in the first quarter. A Trenton Creppage extra point put the score at 7-0.
West Branch got the ball with decent field position on its second drive of the night thanks to a Walker Williams kick return of 17 yards to the 35-yard line.
A Williams run on second down set up the Warriors at third-and-3 at the Blue Devils 42, but Kris Smeal could only muster two yards on the ground and the Warriors were forced to punt.
The Blue Devils got the ball at their own 34-yard line, but one play would be all they needed.
Running back Casey Gray took a handoff to the right and shed numerous tacklers on his way to a 66-yard touchdown run with 7:06 left in the first quarter.
West Branch couldn't overcome a false start penalty on its next drive, eventually going three-and-out and giving the ball back to the Blue Devils. Four plays later, Gray added his second score of the night with an 11-yard run with 4:05 left in the first quarter. Creppage made the extra point and the Warriors were down by 20.
The Warriors showed signs of life on their next drive, picking up their inaugural first down of the game after the duo of Kris and L.G. Smeal combined for 10 yards. A couple of incompletions by Williams led to third-and-10 at their own 36-yard line. Williams rolled out to pass, but a couple Blue Devil defenders brought Williams down for a five-yard loss, forcing the Warriors to punt once again.
Bellwood-Antis started grinding out tough yards on its next possession on three plays for 26 yards. On third-and-5 at the West Branch 31, Burch dumped off a pass to Tanner Snyder, who evaded tacklers and found the end zone just 0:13 into the second quarter. Creppage hit his third extra point of the night to give the Blue Devils a 27-0 lead.
The next Warrior drive showcased running back Kris Smeal, who was one of the bright spots for West Branch, amassing 93 yards on 17 carries on the evening. Kris Smeal took five carries in a row, picking up 29 yards before an incomplete pass on third-and-6 from the Blue Devil 35-yard line.
The Warriors went for it on fourth down, but Williams' pass intended for Nate Kerlin was incomplete.
Bellwood-Antis continued its trend of quick strikes, this time picking up 60 yards on the ground on three plays.
Gray ran for a 30-yard pickup after a West Branch encroachment penalty. Tanner Snyder was then tackled by West Branch defenders for a one-yard loss, setting up second-and-11 from the Warrior 31. Burch took a quarterback keeper and dodged plenty of Warriors before finding the end zone. With the extra point, West Branch found itself down by 34 points.
The Warriors started their next drive at the Bellwood-Antis 33-yard line. But a one-yard loss by Kris Smeal and a four-yard run by L.G. Smeal gave West Branch third-and-7 at the 36-yard line.
A play action pass attempt was hurried, as Williams was just able to get the ball away before Blue Devil defenders came in on the hit. However, the pass intended for Kerlin was incomplete, forcing the fifth punt by the Warriors of the first half.
Blue Devil Jake Stapleton fielded the punt at the 40-yard line and was able to pick up 28 yards to the West Branch 32. Stapleton was rewarded for the good return, as the Blue Devils fed him the ball on the next two plays, and he was able to capitalize on it.
A toss to the right on second-and-9 from the West Branch 31 gave the Blue Devils their sixth touchdown of the night with 4:41 left in the first half. Creppage's extra point was no good, giving Bellwood-Antis a 40-0 lead.
West Branch finally got the offense clicking on all cylinders on its final drive of the half.
Starting from their own 28-yard line, runs by Kris Smeal and Williams got their initial first down of the drive to the Blue Devil 42-yard line. Williams also got the offense going through the air, getting his first three completions of the night, with two going to Tyson Stone and the other to L.G. Smeal.
On second-and-4 from the Bellwood-Antis 28-yard line, Williams scampered on a quarterback keeper for 19 yards to the Blue Devil 9-yard line. But with only 43 seconds left, the Warriors were forced to burn their final timeout.
First-and-goal saw a one-yard loss from Kris Smeal. The Warriors were able to line up for one more play before time in the first half expired, but Williams' pass to Kerlin fell incomplete.
Bellwood-Antis got the opening possession of the second half and set forth on grinding out the clock. Instead of a quick scoring strike, the Blue Devils used 6:25 on 11 plays for 65 yards, with the final coming from another Stapleton score from two yards out. The extra point with 5:35 left in the third quarter gave Bellwood-Antis a 47-0 lead.
West Branch used the momentum from its final drive of the half and finally cashed in on its first drive in the third quarter.
Starting from their own 29-yard line, the Warriors saw a mix of L.G. Smeal, Kris Smeal and Williams running the pigskin. They also caught a break with a 15-yard personal foul on Bellwood-Antis, as Matt McMillen shoved Williams in the backfield after the play was over.
On first-and-10 from the Bellwood-Antis 25-yard line, Kris Smeal took a toss to the right all the way to the 2-yard line. Two plays later, Williams kept it from two yards out and put West Branch on the board with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. Williams also ran for the 2-point conversion, making it a 47-8 Bellwood lead after three quarters.
Bellwood-Antis set out to grind away time in the fourth quarter, as its running attack showcased Zach Mock and Devin Burr on the first drive of the stanza.
However, a big stop on fourth-and-4 from the West Branch 35-yard line gave the ball back to West Branch, which capitalized on the turnover on downs. Coach Smeal got sophomores Colt Rougeux and Daniel McGonigal into the backfield mix along with L.G. Smeal, with Rougeux picking up 15 yards and McGonigal 12.
On second-and-8 from the Bellwood-Antis 36, Williams was sacked for a 12-yard loss by Jake McCaulley. West Branch decided to air it out on third-and-20 from the 48-yard line, and it proved to be the right idea. Williams found Kerlin over the middle, and he eluded a couple tacklers, trekking up the left side for the 48-yard score with 6:48 left in the game.
Williams' 2-point attempt was unsuccessful, making the score 47-14 Blue Devils.
Bellwood-Antis got good field position at its own 48-yard line on its final drive of the night. Nine running plays later, Mock found the end zone on a six-yard run with 1:13 left in the game. Creppage hit the extra point, setting the final score at 54-14.
Even with the low numbers, Coach Smeal was pleased with the effort of his kids.
"They're playing both ways all the time," said Smeal. "They play hard all the time regardless of the score. They just want to play football and have fun."
The Warriors got going in the second half, playing the Blue Devils to a 14-14 score. Coach Smeal was also excited about the effort of his younger players, saying they've not had a junior varsity program in years. Because of the lack of JV time, many kids are basically learning on the fly as to how to adapt to game situations.
"As long as we continue to get better, that's what we need to do," said Smeal.
The Warriors (0-3) look forward to getting better at their next game, which is at Glendale on Friday.
West Branch 14
Score By Quarters
West Branch 0 0 8 6-14
Bellwood-Antis 20 20 7 7-54
BA-Gates 40 pass from Burch, (Creppage kick), 8:50.
BA-Gray 66 run, (kick failed), 7:06.
BA-Gray 11 run, (Creppage kick), 4:05.
BA-Snyder 31 pass from Burch, (Creppage kick), 11:47.
BA-Burch 31 run, (Creppage kick), 7:19.
BA-Stapleton 31 run, (kick failed), 4:41.
BA-Stapleton 2 run, (Creppage kick), 5:35.
WB-Williams 2 run, (Williams run), 0:59.
WB-Kerlin 48 pass from Williams, (run failed), 6:48.
BA-Mock 6 run, (Creppage kick), 1:13.
Total First Downs 12 15
Rushes-Yards 39-170 33-314
Comp-Att-Int 5-13-0 5-7-0
Passing Yards 83 147
Total Plays-Yards 52-253 40-461
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-0
Punts-Avg 5-26 0-0
Penalties-Yards 2-10 4-56
West Branch-K. Smeal 17-93, Williams 9-28, L.G. Smeal 6-20, Rougeux 4-20, McGonigal 1-12, Brown 2-(-3).
Bellwood-Antis-Gray 8-128, Stapleton 6-47, Mock 4-38, Burch 1-31, Snyder 4-31, McCaulley 4-22, Lardieri 2-10, Burr 3-9, Huff 1-(-2).
West Branch-Williams 5-of-13, 83 yds., TD.
Bellwood-Antis-Burch 5-of-6, 147 yds., 2 TD; Huff 0-of-1.
West Branch-Kerlin 1-48, Stone 3-31, L.G. Smeal 1-4.
Bellwood-Antis-Zitterbart 1-42, Gates 1-40, Snyder 1-31, Lardieri 1-29, Gray 1-5.