Warriors rally past Mounties
By Rich Murawski
For the Mirror
PHILIPSBURG — After getting held to just 17 yards on nine carries in the first half of Friday’s season opener against Philipsburg-Osceola, West Branch senior running back Derek Yinging exploded for 151 and three touchdowns in the second half to help rally the Warriors to a 32-14 win.
His last two scores came in a 26-point fourth quarter that saw the Warriors run 16 of their 22 offensive plays on P-O’s side of the field.
“Coming in we thought we could establish the line of scrimmage, but unfortunately it took us a half to do that,” Warrior coach Kevin Hubler said. “We challenged our guys up front. We challenged our running backs to set the tone in the second half and I think they did that for us.”
P-O led 14-0 early in the third after Landon McDonald escaped the pile at the line of scrimmage and scampered 46 yards to paydirt with 8:11 left in the stanza. McDonald led the Mountie rushing attack with 78 yards on 9 carries.
West Branch answered with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that featured eight Yingling runs — his last going for 7 yards to put West Branch on the board with 4:29 left in the third.
Mountie Micah Martin blocked the PAT to keep the score at 14-6.
P-O drove to the Warrior 15 on its next series before turning the ball over on downs, and Yingling and his offensive line went to work.
West Branch drove 85 yards in 11 plays with Yingling capping things with a 2-yard score with 9:48 left in the game. The 2-point conversion failed and the Mounties still led 14-12.
But disaster struck for P-O on its first play after the kickoff when it fumbled and the Warriors pounced on the loose football at the Mountie 27.
Four plays later, quarterback Ayden Gutierrez hit Josh Cantolina for a 14-yard TD pass and West Branch had its first lead (18-14) of the game with 8:04 left to play.
Gutierrez connected on 9 of his 19 passes for 94 yards, hitting Cantolina four times for 65.
“I think when we went up 14-0 … I could see it right away .. I think our kids thought we had the game in the bag,” P-O coach Brian McGonigal said. “That is something we have to focus on and we told them we have to keep the gas pedal pushed and keep it going.
“I think they thought they had it sealed up, and we didn’t finish.”
The Warrior defense forced a three-and-out and the West Branch offense got the ball back at the P-O 43 after a 24-yard punt.
Yingling runs of 22, 13 and 4 yards preceded his 4-yard touchdown run at 5:28 and Will Herring ran in the 2-point conversion as West Branch stretched its lead to 26-14. Yingling finished the game with 168 yards on 37 carries.
“He’s a beast, an absolute beast,” Hubler said. “There is no other way to put it. He has an unquestioned work ethic an d that mentality of ‘you know what, we’re not losing this football game.’ He’s just a great kid.”
“We had a kid that got suspended and wasn’t available for tonight’s game and we could have used him to give some of our kids that were playing both ways a rest,” McGonigal said. “They just wore us down.”
On P-O’s next possession, Terry Smeal sacked Mountie quarterback Bubba Slogosky on second down to force a third-and-21. After a 5-yard penalty pushed the Mounties back farther, they fumbled an exchange in the backfield and Damon Raab jumped on the ball to give West Branch possession at its 31.
The Warriors punted back to P-O after stalling at midfield, giving the Mounties one last chance.
But Cantolina picked off Slogosky two plays later and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to set the final.
“We have been preparing for this game for three weeks. We’ve been looking forward to it for a year,” Hubler said. That game last year left a sour taste in our mouths.”
The teams scuffled through a scoreless first quarter, combining for just 41 total yards.
The Mounties finally put a drive together late in the second quarter, going 82 yards 11 plays with the payoff being a 10-yard pass from Slogosky to Ryan Whitehead.
Slogosky completed 7 of his 20 passes for 107 yards.
Score by Quarters
West Branch 0 0 6 26–32
Philipsburg-Osceola 7 0 7 0–14
PO–Whitehead 10 pass from Bubba Slogosky, (Kaleb Stamm kick) 2:22.
PO–McDonald 46 run, (Stamm kick), 8:11.
WB–Yingling 7 run, (kick blocked), 4:29.
WB–Yingling 2 run, (pass failed), 9:48.
WB–Cantolina 14 pass from Gutierrez, (pass failed), 8:04.
WB–Yingling 4 run, (Herring run), 5:28.
WB–Cantolina 45 Int. return, (kick blocked), 0:21.
TEAM STATISTICS WB PO
First downs 17 11
Rushes-yards 46-193 25-98
Comp-Att-Int 9-19-0 7-20-1
Passing Yards 94 107
Total Plays-Yards 65-289 45-205
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Punts 5-32.0 5-35.4
Penalties-Yards 7-50 4-45
RUSHING–West Branch, Yingling 37-168, Gutierrez 5-13, Herring 2-10, Dawes 2-2. Philipsburg-Osceola, McDonald 9-78, Beauseigneur 6-16, Martin 2-11, Slogosky 8-7.
PASSING–West Branch, Gutierrez 9-of-19-0-94. Philipsburg-Osceola, Slogosky 7-20-1-107.
RECEIVING–West Branch, Cantolina 4-65, Thompson 2-21, Dale 1-8, Herring 2-0. Philipsburg-Osceola, Whitehead 4-62, Depto 1-15, Chapman 1-15, McDonald 1-15.