West Branch Stuffs West Liberty in Season Opener

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

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Tanner Lukavsky helped West Branch get off to an impressive offensive start to the season in its season opener against West Liberty.

It was what Lukavsky and the Bears did on defense on Friday that was the difference.

West Branch limited the Comets to 73 yards of offense including -10 rushing in a 32-6 win in the season opener for both teams at the Little Rose Bowl.

“I thought our defense played extremely well,” West Branch coach Butch Pedersen said. “I don’t know how many total yards they had but I thought we got after the ball really well and we did some good things.”

Lukavsky rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns and had 1.5 sacks among his team-high eight tackles as West Branch ran its regular season winning streak to 10.

“In the offseason I think everyone has dedicated themselves to the weight room,” Lukavsky said. “We have been focusing more on defense this year than we have in past years.”

West Branch took a 15-0 halftime lead and led 25-0 in the fourth quarter before West Liberty got on the board.

The Bears harassed Comet quarterback Seth Feldman all game, corralling him for seven sacks and forcing a pair of turnovers.

Senior linebacker John Hatfield had two sacks while Lukavsky had a sack and teamed with Wyatt Hamby to bring Feldman down another time.

Drake Bloem, Cameron Howsare and Jeff Bowie all added sacks as West Liberty netted -10 rushing yards on 30 carries.
We knew that we had to stop him, we keyed on Feldman he had a lot of attention all night long as soon as he got off the bus we knew where he was,” Pedersen said. “He’s a great athlete and he will play very well down the road and I was extremely happy with our defense.”

Lukavsky capped an eight-play, 52-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ opening possession.

Bowie brought down a ball carrier in the end zone for a safety on the ensuing West Liberty possession that put West Branch up 9-0.

Beau Cornwell connected with Brady Lukavsky for an 18-yard touchdown pass to put West Branch up 15-0 at the half.

The first six drives of the game for West Liberty resulted in negative yardage and West Branch held the comets to -19 yards in the opening half.

“We had some defensive sets that we didn’t even use because I didn’t think we needed to but West Liberty will get better,” Pedersen said. “They have some good personnel but tonight I thought we outmatched them with our defense.”

West Branch put the game away in the third quarter.

Cornwell capped a quick, 3-play, 56-yard drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak and made the score 25-0 with a 30 yard field goal.

Tanner Lukavsky broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the West Branch scoring.

Lukavsky needed just 15 carries to roll up 172 yards and also caught three passes for 12 yards.

Cornwell finished 14-of-20 passing for 155 yards and a touchdown.

Brett Schiele caught four passes for 70 yards while Brady Lukavsky had three receptions for 48 yards and a score.

“It’s good to play a game because we get to see where we are at,” Tanner Lukavsky said. “We will watch film and see what we can improve on.”

Hatfield and Bowie each had six tackles while Dalyn Pedersen, Bloem and Howsare all had five and Brad Hunger picked off a pass in the win.

                                  WL                 WB

First Downs               12                    10

Rushes-yards             30-(-10)           34-148

Comp-Att-Int               12-22-1           14-20-0

Passing yards             103                155

Punts-avg.                  8-34.4             7-37

Fumbles-lost               2-1                 4-0

Penalties-yards           10-52              3-45

West Branch  0  0   0   6  –   6

West Liberty   9  6  10  7  –  32

WB – Tanner Lukavsky 5 run (Beau Cornwell kick)

WB – Safety

WB – Brady Lukavsky 18 pass from Cornwell (Kick failed)

WB – Cornwell 1 run (Cornwell kick)

WB – Cornwell 30 Field Goal

WL – 27 touchdown pass (Run failed)

WB – Lukavsky 64 run (Cornwell kick)

Individual stats

RUSHING – WB: Tanner Lukavsky 15-172, Wyatt Goodale 4-8, Brett Schiele 1-2, Beau Cornwell 8-(-16), Team 4-(-18).

PASSING – WB: Beau Cornwell 14-20-0 155

RECEIVING – WB: Brett Schiele 4-70, Brady Lukavsky 3-48, Tanner Lukavsky 3-12, Zach Thompson 2-16, Trey Eagle 1-6, Wyatt Goodale 1-3.