Warriors Silence Golden Tide in Convincing 43-14 Win

The West Branch Warriors moved to 2-4 as they traveled to Curwensville to take down the Golden Tide 43-14 on Saturday, September 30.
Liptak and a tribe of Warriors fight to get to the ball.
Liptak and a tribe of Warriors fight to get to the ball.
Image/Graphics by Alisa Liptak

The West Branch Warriors took on the Curwensville Golden Tide in a gripping gridiron showdown. The game kicked off with the Warriors winning the coin toss and choosing to defer, leading to a sequence of exciting plays that set the stage for an action-packed encounter.

Matt Eirich’s opening kickoff pinned the Tide deep in their own territory as they started from their 26-yard line. The Tide offense found success running the football on the opening drive as they drove down the field, but the Warrior defense held strong and forced a turnover on downs on their own 29-yard line.

West Branch needed just two plays to score, as a 6-yard rush by senior running back Azadio Vargas was followed by a 67-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Tyler Biggans to junior wide receiver Craig Fluck. The extra point was no good, making the score 6-0.

 The following drive, the Warrior defense forced another turnover on downs, giving West Branch possession. Short rushes from senior running backs Wyatt Schwiderske and Azadio Vargas set the Warriors up nicely for a 12-yard reception by Fluck to give the Warriors 4th and 1, which Vargas picked up with ease. The Tide defense would eventually make a stand and force a punt. 

The Warrior defense responded with a couple of hard-hitting tackles and two tackles-for-loss. The Golden Tide faked the punt, but the Warrior punt return unit was not fooled, causing a turnover-on-downs. The Warriors responded with a few first downs, including one fourth-down conversion. A few plays later, they were faced with another fourth and short situation, but Biggans was tackled behind the line to gain, turning the ball back over to the Tide. 

On the first play of the new drive, Biggans blew the run play up in the backfield for a loss, followed by a short gain on second down. On third down, freshman outside linebacker Conner Danko sacked the quarterback for a loss of 19 yards, pinning the Tide on their own 1-yard line, for 4th down and 28 yards to go. The Tide decided to punt, but it was blocked by Senior lineman Scott Smeal for a safety, putting the Warriors up 8-0 and giving West Branch the ball back. 

The ensuing drive began with a 19-yard strike over the middle to Frankie Leskovansky, followed by a 39-yard bomb to sophomore Easton Emigh setting up the Warriors on the Tide 4-yard line. Biggans would take matters into his own hands, leaping over a defender for a West Branch touchdown. The point after was good by senior Emma Bucha, making the score 15-0 in favor of the Warriors. 

Nothing was going the Tide’s way, as the next play from scrimmage was intercepted by Senior cornerback Ethan Dale. Following an incompletion, Biggans extended the play with his legs and delivered a 35-yard heave to Senior receiver Nick Stavola for the West Branch Touchdown. Bucha added the point after, making the score 22-0. 

The Tide was able to respond on the next drive, as two short gains led to quarterback Tyler Dunn delivering a 63-yard touchdown, which cut the Warrior lead to 15. After a nice return by Coby Kephart, getting the Warriors the whole way to the Curwensville 40. West Branch was faced with 4th down, but Biggans delivered a ball to Schwiderske at the sticks to continue the drive. After some short gains by Vargas, Fluck, and Biggans, the Warriors got a penalty, backing them up 10 yards to the 20-yard line. But the Warriors brushed it off, and Biggans hit Vargas out of the backfield for a 20-yard touchdown, with Bucha drilling the extra point, putting the Warriors up 29-7 going into the half.

The Warriors came out of the half slow, with a three-and-out, giving the ball over to the Tide. The Tide started strong, breaking off a 20-yard rush. But on the next play, freshman Max Gibson sacked the quarterback for a loss of 9 yards. The Tide followed with 2 incomplete passes, but a penalty on the Warriors kept their drive alive. However, Smeal forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Luke Liptak. The Warriors drove down the field with two completions to Vargas. A defensive pass interference on the next play would set the Warriors up on the 6-yard line. Biggans then connected with Schwiderske for a 6-yard touchdown reception, followed by another extra point by Bucha to put the Warrior lead to 36-7. 

Curwensville gained possession on the 31-yard line, but a 4th-down sack by Smeal gave the ball right back to the Warriors. After a 7-yard completion to Leskovansky and two incompletions, the Warriors were faced with a 4th down of their own. Unlike Curwensville, West Branch was able to capitalize, as Biggans hit Leskovansky for a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Bucha’s extra point stretched the West Branch lead to 43-7. 

The Tide started to string some plays together, getting themselves to the Warrior 45-yard line, but on 3rd down, Liptak and Danko combined for a strip sack, resulting in a 16-yard loss, which forced yet another punt. 

When the Warriors took over, it was the Junior Varsity who took the field, led by Danko. The Tide forced a 3-and-out and ran in a touchdown from the 2-yard line, making the score 43-14. The Warriors would run out the clock and secure their second win of the season. 

 When asked how this win will affect the rest of the season, Danko stated, “The win over the Tide boosted our confidence and keeps our desire to win. That win shows us and the community what we are capable of if we want it enough.”

The Warriors (2-4) are back in action next Friday at home to take on the Southern Huntingdon County Rockets (0-6) at 7:00 p.m.

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