The Cardinals shut out West Branch in the second half to earn a 25-13 victory.
By RYAN JONES
BELOIT-- The Canfield High football team was due.
The Cardinals defeated West Branch 25-13 Friday night, marking the first time since 1980 that Canfield has defeated the Warriors.
"It was just a great effort by all of our kids," Canfield coach Mike Pavlansky said. "They bought into the game plan and executed it the whole way through."
The Cardinals (2-0) stormed out of the gate, scoring on their first three possessions. The first came on a nine-play, 79-yard drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Leo Sorice to Chase Axelson.
The drive almost stalled on a fourth down at the Canfield 45-yard line. But Mike Turjanica took a direct snap and rumbled 31 yards to keep the drive alive.
West Branch (1-1) immediately responded with a 59 yard scoring drive, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Greenawalt to Corey Wonner.
On Canfield's second drive, Sorice took charge.
He completed three passes of more than 10 yards, scrambled once for 17 more, and after faking an inside handoff to running back Tim Dewberry, scampered 13 yards for the score.
"He's a special kid, a three year starter, an all-around team leader who we expect a lot out of," Pavlansky said of Sorice. "Tonight he played great for us."
Sorice struck again late in the first half when he eluded the Warrior defense on a quarterback option play for a 49-yard touchdown run to extend Canfield's lead to 18-6.
"His speed was something we had not faced before," West Branch coach Jim Laut said of Sorice. "It really bothered us tonight."
Sorice finished with 14 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 7 of 10 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
West Branch cut the lead to 18-13 in the finals seconds of the first half when tailback Josh Davis ran for a 6-yard touchdown.
The Warriors would get no closer.
"I can't say enough about our defense and the job our coaches did," said Pavlansky. "Especially in the second half, to shut out a quality West Branch team is tremendous.
"We couldn't be happier with our guys."
Canfield extended its lead in the third quarter when Sorice tossed a 29-yard touchdown pass to a sliding Axelson. The senior wideout finished with six receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Warrior quarterback Greenawalt felt the pressure all night long, as the Canfield defense recorded six sacks and deflected several of his passes.
"Their blitzes really hurt us," Laut said. "From both inside and out, we failed to stop them consistently."