Second-ranked West Branch Pounds Williamsburg 31-7 Behind a Balanced Offense


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Pat Harty

Your Prep Sports

WEST BRANCH – To say that Beau Cornwell impacted Friday’s football game between his West Branch Bears and Williamsburg would sort of be like saying that his head coach has impacted West Branch football.

You name it and the multi-talented Cornwell did it during an impressive 31-7 victory over Class 2A Williamsburg at the Little Rose Bowl.

In addition to passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns, Cornwell also made a 27-yard field goal, all four of his extra-point kicks and a touchdown-saving tackle on a kick return by the speedy Gage Hazen-Fabor in the final seconds of the second quarter, and with the Class1A second-ranked Bears leading, 24-7.

“Huge, absolutely huge,” West Branch coach Butch Pedersen said of Cornwell’s tackle. “That was a great play. And that’s why we kind of want an athletic kid doing our kicking. So that worked out for us.”

Playing defense is about the only thing Cornwell doesn’t do, but he tries to pay attention to defense at times in practice when he isn’t running the offense or kicking or punting, which he also did on Friday.

“I watch all the guys do form tackling,” Cornwell said. “I don’t do it. They don’t make me do them. So I just watch them, and I had to make a play.”

Cornwell had a feeling the he and the shifty Fabor would meet on the kick return. Hazen-Fabor blasted through an opening and was racing down the sideline when Cornwell tackled him out of bounds at the West Branch 40-yard line.

“Right when he got the ball, I was like, ‘Oh no, here he comes,” Cornwell said. “I had to breakdown and do something. It was a pretty clutch play, I guess you could say.”

Cornwell made lots of clutch plays on Friday, as did his talented supporting cast on offense.

He completed at least two passes to seven different receivers, with fellow senior Brady Lukavsky catching both touchdown passes.

Lukavsky’s second touchdown catch came after a field-goal attempt had unraveled due to a low snap. Cornwell picked up the football and avoided the rush long enough to complete a 10-yard pass to Lukavsky in the corner of the end zone with 5 minutes, 11 seconds left in the third quarter.

Cornwell then converted his fourth extra point to give West Branch a 31-7 lead.

The Bears improved to 3-0 on the season and they also gave Pedersen his 299th career win. The defending Class 2A state runner-up, Williamsburg dropped to 0-3.

“We’re trying to get him three-hundred next week," Cornwell said of next Friday’s game against Tipton.

West Branch showed tremendous balance on offense during Friday’s game as Brady Lukavsky’s brother, Tanner Lukavsky, complemented the passing attack with 137 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The Lukavsky brothers accounted for all four of West Branch’s touchdowns on Friday.

Tanner Lukavsky, as a running back, benefits from West Branch’s balance on offense. Opposing defenses can’t focus on him because Cornwell and his stable of receivers will make them suffer.

“It’s easier because they’re worrying about Beau throwing it over the top of them, which keeps them from loading the box as much, which allows the gaps to be wide open” Tanner Lukavsky said.

Pedersen has been coaching at West Branch since the mid-1980s and has led some talented teams. His current squad is showing early signs of being special, largely because of the balance on offense.

“We have a lot of people and a lot of different weapons,” Pedersen said. “We’re able to run the ball and throw the ball. We had over four-hundred yards offense tonight, and that’s pretty impressive.

“To me, we’re not even close to being what we’re going to be because we’re still kind of work in progress.”

The Bears added a new weapon on offense with the addition of freshman receiver Thomas Gould, who had been out with a shoulder injury. Gould had three catches for 75 yards in Friday’s game.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Pedersen said. “He’s only a freshman. He dislocated his shoulder in the Mount Vernon scrimmage three weeks ago, and he came back very quickly and did a lot of rehab and worked hard at it and you saw him make some big plays tonight.”

Hazen-Fabor led Williamsburg with 113 rushing yards, but it took him 27 carries against an aggressive West Branch defense to do it.

Pedersen pulled Hazen-Fabor aside during the post-game handshake line to offer his praise.

“A great athlete, a great kid, he does everything the right way,” Pedersen said of Hazen-Fabor. “He was very classy, and I just wanted him to know it was a privilege to coach against a kid like that.”

                                  WBURG          W. BRANCH

First downs                    14                   18

Rushes-yards                 33-94             33-159

Passing yards                  217                 286

Penalties-yards               6-58              12-85

Fumbles-lost                    3-3                  2-1

Williamsburg      0    7   0  0  –  7

West Branch      14  10  7  0  – 31

WB – Brady Lukavsky 6 pass from Beau Cornwell (Beau Cornwell kick)

WB – Tanner Lukavsky 4 run (Cornell kick)

WIL – Jordan Martin 1 run (Leighton Jones kick)

WB – Tanner Lukavsky 6 run (Cornwell kick)

WB – Cornwell 27 FG

WB – Brady Lukavsky 10 pass (Cornwell kick)

Individual Statistics

RUSHING – WIL: Gage Hazen-Fabor 27-113, Jordan Martin 6(-19); WB: Tanner Lukavsky 17-137, Wyatt Hamby 8-10, Wyatt Goodale 4-9, Beau Cornwell 4-3.

PASSING – WIL: Jordan Martin 15-23-217. WB: Beau Cornwell 19-32-286

RECEIVING WIL: Kaden Wetjen 4-84, Gage Hazen-Fabor 4-24, Nicholas Goodell 3-43, Garrett Jensen 2-34. WB: Brett Schiele 3-103, Thomas Gould 3-75, Wyatt Goodale 3-33, Tanner Lukavsky 3-23, Brady Lukavsky 3-13, Zach Thompson 2-21, Trey Eagle 2-19.

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