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West Branch wins in 20T



Published: Sat, September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tyler Bates blocked a Beaver Local extra point to lift the Warriors.

By JOHN BUTERA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

BELOIT -- It wouldn't be surprising if after West Branch's 28-27 double overtime victory over Beaver Local, the evening's biggest smile came from Warriors quarterback Steve McNeely.

McNeely, who last week passed for almost 500 yards, threw seven interceptions, but came through when he needed to for West Branch (2-0).

But it was West Branch's Tyler Bates' blocked extra point that proved to be the difference at Clinton Heacock Stadium.

"That's been a couple of entertaining games for us," said West Branch coach Bob Altenhof, whose team defeated Southeast, 55-41, in its opener last week.

The Beavers (1-1) opened their season with a 26-23 overtime win over Minerva.

How it happened

Beaver Local took the lead in the second overtime when Luke Neville scored on a 12-yard run, which gave him 136 yards on 17 carries.

Bates then blocked the extra point, paving the way for the exciting finish.

"I just knew someone had to step up and make a play," said Bates of his first career blocked extra point. "It was just time for a big play and it happened."

Beaver Local still looked like it might pull out its second overtime victory in a row when West Branch was faced with a fourth and goal at the Beavers' 7-yard line.

McNeely then found Patrick Stecker for their third scoring pass of the contest.

Beaver Local then tried to ice the Warriors kicker, Evan Campbell, but he was true to form for his fourth PAT.

"I really don't have a lot to say," said Beaver Local coach Rich Wright. "We played hard and had some young kids in there tonight.

"Last week we got a little lucky. This week, West Branch got a little lucky."

McNeely finished 21-of-39 for 235 yards.

"A lot of those interceptions were tipped balls; it wasn't like he was making mistakes," said Altenhof of McNeely.

Back and forth

West Branch's first five drives and two of the Warriors' first three efforts in the second half all ended in interceptions.

Luke Neville's 14-yard run gave Beaver Local a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and for a while it looked as though that may hold up.

McNeely then marched the Warriors 77 yards to tie the game before halftime and give the team a confidence boost.

He had been 3-of-10 with five interceptions, but went 6-of-8 on the drive, which featured a 1-yard pass to Stecker with seven-tenths of a second remaining before intermission.

"That was really important," said Altenhof of the drive.




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