|Trojans end WB’s playoff run, 32-13
by Gregory R. Norfleet · Sports · November 02, 2017
The season that accomplished more than expected suddenly seemed to end too soon.
West Branch struggled to hold back a stout Pleasantville defense, to grasp an elusive and quick Trojan running back and contain the visitors’ special teams.
In the end, the No. 4 Bears (9-1) fell to the Trojans, 32-13, on a cold, part-rain, part-snow and all slippery night at the Little Rose Bowl, closing out its season in the first round of the state playoffs.
Pleasantville secured the night with big, breakaway plays by senior Hunter Tyree, who scored four touchdowns, one from an 86-yard kickoff return, and none for fewer than 36 yards. Another six points came from two field goals by senior Kyle Amendt.
Some of the two teams’ stats were quite similar. Pleasantville had 274 yards of total offense while West Branch had 248. Both had seven penalties, with the Trojans losing 55 yards and the Bears losing 59 yards. Pleasantville punted on seven of its 15 possessions and West Branch punted on seven of its 14 possessions.
Yet the Trojans won the turnover battle, intercepting two passes and taking over on downs twice when West Branch could not convert.
And then there was defense, with Pleasantville sacking junior quarterback Beau Cornwell five times for 32 lost yards.
Cornwell danced and dodged his way through an obstacle course of defenders for West Branch’s first score of the night from 15 yards out, capping a seven-play, 61-yard drive in the second quarter. Then senior running back Jacob Graves punched his way in from two yards out for the second score at the end of a nine-play, 58-yard push in the third quarter.
“This was a great season,” Head Bears Coach Butch Pedersen told the team after the game. “Do not let one game define this season. You had so many wonderful ball games during the course of the year.”
However, West Branch had a down night Friday, he said.
“That’s the way life is sometimes,” the coach said. “You get some tough breaks and you bounce back. It’s that simple.”
The coach said the team “created a lot of memories this year.”
“For the seniors who are going to be gone, you’ve proved a lot of people wrong,” Pedersen said. “9-0, district champions, you made the state tournament. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
He said the team fought “as a family” and “had each other’s backs.”
“That’s a lot of life lessons, isn’t it?” he said. “Does it hurt now? Of course it does … if it didn’t hurt right now, I’d be disappointed. But nobody should be disappointed in this team this season.”
When the team gathered to “break it down,” they called out, “Family.”
West Branch Offensive Coordinator John Hierseman called the outcome disappointing, but “at the end of the season, there’s only one team that goes home happy.”
“It’s a life lesson you learn in sports,” he said. “That’s part of why we do it.”
He said the offense “seemed like we were one step forward, two steps back,” especially in the second half due to penalties, sacks and other difficulties.
“Suddenly it’s second and 20, or second and 30,” he said. “It’s just hard to move the ball like that.”
The Bears played the regular season primarily with good field position, he said, but not Friday.
Pleasantville Head Coach Graig Eichenberger said he felt the Trojans “finally played a complete game,” with strong showings by offense, defense and special teams.
“They were just huge” tonight, he said.
Pedersen said he felt the Bears made the effort, but the wet conditions did not help the passing side of West Branch’s game plan.
“We like to throw the football, but we had a hard time with the wet (conditions),” he said. “I don’t want that to be an excuse and I do not want to take anything away from Pleasantville because they beat us on the field and deserve to advance.”
He said the Bears also struggled to get good field position, which is vital in the playoffs, and he did not know how well the younger players would stand up against the senior-heavy Trojans.
Pedersen said West Branch’s conditioning held up, though, but the team had some “miscues” that allowed Pleasantville to improve from its 10-7 first-half score to a 22-6 second-half run.
Pleasantville watched a lot of tape in preparation for the game, Eichenberger said.
“We knew they had a good quarterback, so we knew that, if they threw short, we were going to rally to the ball and we wanted to defend the long ball and keep the quarterback and tailback in the pocket,” he said.
That meant rushing the passer or keeping tight on receivers, or both.
“There were quite a few coverage sacks,” the Trojan coach said. “The quarterback would drop back and there just wasn’t anybody open, so you start to get a little ‘happy feet’ and that gives defenders a little more time to get through (the offensive line) and make a play. We blitzed quite a few times off the edge, put the pressure on.”
Hiersemann said Pleasantville’s defense was “good.”
“They had 10 of their 11 defensive starters were seniors, and it was pretty similar on offense,” he said. “They’re aggressive, they came off the ball fast. Part of what we struggled with in pass protection was how long we could block them because they’re pretty mobile defensive linemen. They weren’t the biggest defensive linemen we’ve seen, but they’re strong and they’re quick.”
Eichenberger said Pedersen prepared a “really good team,” yet Pleasantville “finally brought it all together” and pulled out some big plays.
“(West Branch) had so many guys in the box, it wasn’t always hard to get big plays,” he said. “When you do and you get by that first wave of guys, then there’s not so many in the back end, so you can make big plays.”
Pedersen called Tyree a “tremendous running back” for the Trojans.
“He’s got great speed, especially perimeter speed,” he said.
The Bears hoped to force him to run up the middle, but that did not always work.
“He got away with a couple of big plays that hurt,” the West Branch coach said.
The Bears closed the gap to 16-13 in the third quarter, but the Trojans answered on the kickoff with Tyree running back for a touchdown.
“That really hurt our chances right there,” Pedersen said.
On defense, Brett Schiele led with 7.5 tackles, followed by Andrew Black with four and Jeff Bowie with 3.5 tackles and a fumble recovery.
West Branch did work hard, though, giving “110-percent effort” and playing as a team, the coach said.
“That’s one of the reasons why we were 9-0 going into this game,” he said, noting that the coaches “put kids in position” to give the Bears their best chance.
“I’m extremely impressed with the players this year, and the assistant coaches,” Pedersen said. “This team overachieved.”
Pleasantville will return to District 5 Friday to take on Pella Christian, who they lost to in the regular season. Eichenberger said the game was closer than the 31-14 score showed because of a late touchdown and pick-six by the Eagles.
“Our kids have a lot of faith they can play with Pella Christian,” he said.
West Branch 13, Pleasantville 32
Pleasantville 7 3 13 9 32
West Branch 0 7 6 0 13
First downs 10 16
Rush-pass-penalty 7-2-1 7-8-1
Rushing yards 228 93
Passing: Completions-Attempts 7-16 18-32
Passing yards 46 155
Passing: TD-Interceptions 0-0 0-2
Total plays 47 68
Offensive yards 274 248
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 7-55 7-59
Defensive sacks-yards lost 5-32 0-0
Time of possession 18:29 29:31
3rd down efficiency 3 of 11 1 of 10
4th down efficiency 0 of 0 0 of 2
Punts-average yards 7-29.71 7-22.71
P: Hunter Tyree 54 run; Kyle Amendt kick; 58.2
WB: Beau Cornwell 15 run; Cornwell kick; 1:29
P: Amendt 43-yard field goal; 3.8 seconds
P: Tyree 78 run; kick failed; 8:54
WB: Jacob Graves 2 run; 2-point conversion fails; 4:42
P: Tyree 86-yard kick return; Amendt kick; 4:26
P: Tyree 36 run; kick failed; 10:36
P: Amendt 26-yard field goal; 1:44
• • • • •
Passing — Beau Cornwell 18-155
Rushing — Beau Cornwell 19-32, 1 TD; Jacob Graves 15-52, 1 TD; Tanner Lukavsky 4-9
Receiving — Ben Thompson 1-5; Brett Schiele 6-56; Jacob Graves 10-76; Tanner Lukavsky 1-18
Tackles (solos-assists-sacks) — Ben Thompson 1-0-0; Dakota Kaalberg 3-0-0; Brett Schiele 5-5-0; Jacob Graves 1-1-0; Tanner Lukavsky 2-1-0; John Hatfield 3-1-0; Cameron Howsare 3-1-0; Dalyn Pederson 1-0-0; Billy Friis 1-1-0; Andrew Black 2-4-0; Jeff Bowie 2-3-0, 1 fumble recovery; Drake Bloem 1-0-0; Jacob Barnhart 2-3-0
Kick returns: Brett Schiele 2-41; Jacob Graves 2-39; Jaden Hierseman 1-0
Punt returns-Yards: Jacob Graves 2-10
Punting: Beau Cornwell 7-159
Kickoffs: Javier Zamudio 3-139
PATs: Beau Cornwell 1-1
FGs: Beau Cornwell 0-1