QB Hillyer leads West Branch over East Liverpool
BELOIT — West Branch senior quarterback Brock Hillyer piled up 348 total yards, including 289 through the air with four touchdowns, to lead the Warriors to a 43-13 win over East Liverpool in a Division IV football playoff game in Clinton Heacock Stadium on Saturday night.
“They (the Potters) came out in a shotgun Power I — I haven’t seen that in a while, if ever, and they went right down the field on us,” West Branch coach Ken Harris said. “Then we kind of adjusted to it a little bit and, once we got up on them, that took a little bit out of their plan.”
“They (the Warriors) just did a great job tonight all the way around,” East Liverpool coach Josh Ludwig said. “They executed everything they needed to do. They took their bye week last week and did their homework and came out with an excellent game plan.”
The win vaults the Warriors (7-0) into a regional quarterfinal next Saturday night against the Ursuline Irish at 7 p.m. in Beloit.
“It means everything to me (to be moving on in the playoffs),” Hillyer said. “I wanted to leave a legacy here and leave a road for the younger guys coming up, and I think we’re doing that. Now we have to keep it rolling.”
Hillyer came out firing as West Branch scored on four of its five first-half possessions and the Warriors led 14-7 after one quarter and 28-13 at half.
“He did a really nice job,” Harris said of Hillyer’s sterling performance.
Hillyer completed 16-of-24 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 59 yards on 11 carries with another six-pointer on the ground. He spread the ball around to seven different receivers, led by running back Alec Wilson with four catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns, Andrew Coffee with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown, and Josh Gregory with four snags for 51 yards and a six-pointer.
“I would say they are (the best offense) we have faced,” Ludwig said. “They have so many weapons and skills that you shut one down and someone else has a big game. Congratulations to them.”
For the game, West Branch outgained the Potters, 461-210.
“I’m proud of the guys and everybody came out healthy and we’re looking forward to next week,” Harris said.
One of West Branch’s second-quarter scores was set up when the Potters dropped a punt snap and the punter was swarmed under at the East Liverpool 12. West Branch capitalized with a 5-yard scoring run by running back Alec Wilson with 4:17 left before half, making it 28-7 at the time.
The Warriors went up 35-13 at the 6:33 mark of the third quarter when Hillyer hit Wilson with a 20-yard scoring strike. Tolson added the PAT kick and the hosts led 35-13.
A running clock began when Hillyer connected with receiver Dru DeShields with a 13-yard scoring aerial and Hillyer added a two-point conversion run, making it 43-13 with 2:07 left in the third quarter. It closed the scoring in the game.
“We came out in the third quarter and didn’t look very good in the first drive and then the second drive we went down and scored,” Harris said. “They (the Potters) are a good team, we just got up on them a little bit and it took them out of what they wanted to do.”
Both of West Branch’s third-quarter scores were set up by West Branch defender Brock Smith who had an interception and a fumble recovery.
The third-seeded Warriors, who won 34-28 against East Liverpool in late September, had four turnovers in that game which kept things close. In the rematch, the Warriors had no turnovers while the Potters had one along with two muffed punts.