ALLPORT - Friday night's home opener for the West Branch Warriors pitted them against long-time nemesis Bellwood-Antis.
After last year's close loss at Bellwood, the Warriors hoped to pull the upset. But after a strong first half in which West Branch gave the Blue Devils all they could handle, Bellwood pulled away for a 54-20 victory.
''You have to give them a lot of credit,'' Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes said. ''They did a great job and we couldn't stop them. Their first three drives controlled the game.''
The Warriors opened the game with a 13-play drive that was capped off with Chad Speigle running it in from 11 yards out for a 6-0 lead.
The Blue Devils answered quickly as Seth Worthing found Cameron Worthing on a touchdown pass of 69 yards. Tyler Campbell's PAT kick was good.
On its next possession, Speigle put the Warriors back on top with a 12-yard run for a 12-7 lead.
''We wanted to control the tempo of the game and try and slow down their speed,'' West Branch coach Lester Smeal said. ''And I think we did a pretty good job in the first half of doing what we wanted on offense.''
Bellwood-Antis' big plays showed up on the next drive as Haden DeGennaro scored on a 47-yard run for a 14-12 lead.
The Warriors answered with a big play of their own as Emigh took the next kickoff 90 yards for a score. Speigle's 2-point conversion run put West Branch up 20-14.
In the second quarter, the Blue Devils scored on their first two series. Seth Worthing connected again with Cameron Worthing for a 19-yard score. Casey Gray ran 52 yards for another score as Bellwood-Antis went up 28-20.
Speigle and the Warriors tried to answer late in the first half, driving down to the Blue Devil 29 but turned the ball over on downs.
The Blue Devils added another huge play with Campbell dashing 51 yards for a touchdown in the third for a 35-20 lead.
''We were resilient and were able to answer their scores with some big plays,'' Hayes said. ''It was frustrating in the first half because they did a good job, but we reacted better in the second half.''
DeGennaro opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with 34-yard run for a 42-20 lead.
Gray and Jake Stapleton scored the last two touchdowns to set the final.
Degennaro and Gray both topped the century mark with 148 and 121 rushing yards, respectively.
West Branch hosts Glendale next Friday, while Bellwood-Antis hosts Juniata Valley.
Score By Quarters
Bellwood Antis14 14 7 19-54
West Branch20 0 0 0 -20
WB-Speigle 11 run (kick failed) 6:49
BA-C. Worthing 69 pass from S. Worthing (Campbell kick) 5:39
WB-Speigle 12 run, (run failed) 2:29
BA-DeGennaro 47 run (Campbell kick) 2:17
WB-Emigh 90 kickoff return (Speigle run)2:01
BA-C. Worthing 19 pass from S. Worthing (Campbell kick) 10:30
BA-Gray 52 run (Campbell kick) 5:48
BA-Campbell 51 run (Campbell kick) 10:42
BA-DeGennaro 34 run (Campbell kick) 11:50
BA-Gray 44 run (kick failed) 10:54
BA-Stapleton 13 run (kick failed) 6:24
Rushing: Bellwood-Antis-Degennaro 5-148, Gray 12-121, Campbell 6-90, Stapleton 4-57, S.Worthing 3-31, Wood 3-17, Lardieri 1-15, McMillan 4-9, Snyder 2-9, Mock 1-6. West Branch-Speigle 37-167, K.Smeal 5-19, Sanker 2-17, L.Smeal 1-0.
Passing: Bellwood-Antis-S.Worthing 4-8-0-115. West Branch-Sanker 3-9-2-33.
Receiving: Bellwood-Antis-C.Worthing 2-88, Campbell 1-24, Gray 1-3. West Branch-Emigh 3-33.
Interceptions: Bellwood-Antis-Gray 2.