West Branch Triumphs in Comeback Win Over Glendale

The Warriors overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the Glendale Vikings 35-21 on Senior Night.
The West Branch offensive line gets set to battle the Vikings.
The West Branch offensive line gets set to battle the Vikings.
Image/Graphics by Jenn

The West Branch Warriors took on the Glendale Vikings on Friday, October 13, 2023. The Vikings won the toss, and elected to differ to the second half. The Warriors started slow, but on 4th and short, gained the first down on a screen pass from Tyler Biggans to Nick Stavola. After two sacks by the Glendale defense, the Warriors were faced with a 3rd and 17. Biggans dropped back and threw it to Wyatt Schwiderske for a 15-yard gain, leaving the Warriors with a 4th and 2. On 4th down, Biggans threw again to Schwiderske, however after getting first down yardage, he fumbled the ball, which gave possession over to Glendale. The Vikings then marched right down the field and hit paydirt in seven plays to make the score 7-0.

 The Warriors’ offensive struggles continued as the Viking defense didn’t budge, forcing a 3-and-out. The Warrior defense started the drive strong, with Luke Liptak and Max Gibson tackling Glendale quarterback Logan Skebeck for a loss of 3 yards. However on 3rd down, a 10-yard rush gave the Vikings 4th and 3 to go. On 4th down, Senior defensive lineman Scott Smeal stuffed the run in the backfield, forcing a turnover on downs. West Branch could not get much going on the offensive end, but a 3rd down defensive pass interference kept the drive alive for the Warriors. However, the Warriors would not capitalize, as a 3rd down sack forced another West Branch punt. A great punt from Coby Kephart would pin the Vikings inside their own 10-yard line. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Smeal and outside linebacker Conner Danko worked together to bring down the ball carrier for a loss of 5 yards. Glendale would answer with a 17-yard pass for a Viking first down. After gaining another first down, the Vikings took a run for a 27-yard gain. Then, on second down, the Vikings ran the ball up the middle for a 38-yard touchdown establishing a 14-0 lead. 

West Branch wasn’t done just yet, as the Warriors pulled a trick out of their sleeve with a lateral pass from Danko to Biggans in which Biggans threw to a wide open Stavola to set the Warriors up 1st and goal at the 2-yard line. The Warriors would line up and punch it in with Biggans to get on the board, 14-7. Emma Bucha’s extra point was good, Bucha went a perfect 5 for 5 on the night. With the Warriors gaining momentum, the West Branch defense stood strong and forced a three play Glendale punt. On second down, Biggans hit Stavola for a 50-yard touchdown reception, striking even with the Vikings at 14. 

West Branch wanted more. On the following Kickoff, junior Craig Fluck forced a fumble recovered by senior kicker Matt Eirich. The Warriors only needed three plays to score. Biggans pitched right it in front of Schwiderske for a 17-yard touchdown, taking their first lead of the night, 21-14. The following drive was unproductive for the Viking offense, as they kicked off the drive with a short gain, but it was followed by a bad snap from the center for a loss of 15 yards. The drive ended in another 3-and-out, which gave the scorching hot Warriors possession at the Viking 25-yard line. West Branch capitalized on the good field position with a one-play 25-yard touchdown reception by Fluck, pushing the Warriors up 28-14 before halftime. 

The Glendale offense started the second half strong. After two short gains, a 33 yard pass set the Vikings at the Warrior 41 yard line. Then, they would break off a 15-yard scramble for a first down. Then, Glendale had their sights on the endzone, and they scored a 4-yard touchdown rush, cutting down the West Branch lead to 7. But the Warriors still had their foot on the gas, and after making their way to the Viking 20-yard line, Biggans delivered a strike in the endzone to Frankie Leskovansky for a Warrior Touchdown to stretch the lead to 35-21.

Glendale had no answer for the rest of the game. A fourth down pass deflection by defensive lineman Ryan Wood secured the win for the Warriors. When asked “What does the win over Glendale mean for the Warriors going into the postseason?” Fluck responded, “The win over Glendale was a huge win for us. It got us back to .500 and one game closer to sealing off a playoff run and more importantly a district title birth. I also believe that it shows our team’s ability to not give up even when we are down.”

The Warriors(4-4) are back in action next Friday, October 20, to take on the Black Knights at Moshannon Valley(5-3).

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