FLINTON - With a total of 12 out of 15 fumbles lost and six interceptions the past three weeks, it's no wonder Glendale has struggled to get into the win column.
But the Vikings rectified that situation on Friday night against visiting West Branch, allowing just one interception, while recovering all three of the fumbles it had in a 34-12 victory.
"That was definitely the key," Glendale coach Matt Irvine said. "I think before this our lowest amount of turnovers was three or four. And, we still lost that one. That was the biggest thing this week, keeping a hold of the ball. We did a lot better tonight."
The Vikings also got a big game from first-time starting quarterback Nate Braniff, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in his debut. He rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries.
"He played real well," Irvine said. "It was his first start at quarterback and he ran for three touchdowns and threw one. Just one interception, but we will take it in this situation."
Glendale took control of the game on its first possession, needing just 12 plays to score. The Vikings were also helped along by a facemask and an unsportsmanlike penalty that moved the ball to the Warriors 6. Braniff eventually scored on a 1-yard run. The kick failed, however, giving Glendale a 6-0 lead.
After West Branch turned the ball over on downs, the Vikings pushed right down the field. A Matt Kimberly 43-yard run set the Glendale offense up at the Warriors 1. Braniff punched in his second touchdown of the night on the very next play.
The conversion try failed, and the Vikings led 12-0 with 1:52 to go in the first quarter.
"We started fast," Irvine said. "We knew this is what we could do if we came in and played our game. We knew we could win it. We finished just as strong, if not stronger than we started."
Glendale scored again with just five seconds to go in the frame after a Ray Carlheim fumble recovery set the Vikings up at the West Branch 38.
Kimberly took the handoff 38 yards for the score. The kick failed, putting the score at 18-0.
Glendale went up 26-0 after a Braniff 54-yard run and a Braniff pass to Shea O"Donnell for the conversion with 3:21 remaining in the half.
The second half started off with an unsportsmanlike penalty on Glendale after the school's band failed to get off the field before the clock reached zero. The Vikings had to kick from their own 25, and West Branch took advantage.
The Warriors returned the ball back to the Glendale 48, then needed just five plays to punch it in the end zone. Kris Smeal had a 39-yard run on the drive and eventually took in the score from 15 yards out. The PAT failed, cutting the score to 26-6.
The Vikings put up one final score in the fourth quarter, as Braniff hit Tyler Potutschnig with an 8-yard strike to put the score at 32-6. A conversion run by Kimberly put it at 34-6 with 6:29 to go.
Kris Smeal found the end zone one final time, scoring on a 7-yard run to set the final at 34-12.
Smeal finished the game with 159 yards on 28 carries.
"We had to make a few adjustments like staying home and watching the backside counter," Irvine said of his defense and keying on Smeal. "But they played tough the whole game."
Glendale (1-3) travels to Claysburg-Kimmel on Friday night.
Score By Quarters
West Branch0 0 6 6 - 12
Glendale18 8 0 8 - 34
G - Braniff 1 run (kick failed), 6:51.
G - Braniff 1 run (run failed), 1:52.
G - Kimberly 38 run (kick failed), :05.4.
G - Braniff 54 run (O'Donnell pass from Braniff), 3:21.
WB - K. Smeal 15 run (kick failed), 10:36.
G - Potutschnig 8 pass from Braniff, (Kimberly run), 6:29.
WB - K. Smeal 7 run (pass failed), 5:06.
Rushing: West Branch - K. Smeal 28-159, L.G. Smeal 9-31, Williams 7-(-34). Glendale-Kimberly 18-108, Rojas 5-53, Braniff 12-53, Stewart 3-5, Team 4-(-4).
Passing: West Branch - Williams 4-12-0-29. Glendale -Braniff 6-9-1-89.
Receiving: West Branch - Stone 2-11, L.G. Smeal 1-10, Kerlin 1-8. Glendale - O'Donnell 3-41, Rojas 1-25, Potutschnig 2-23.
Interceptions: West Branch - K. Smeal.