ALLPORT - Mount Union struck first on Friday evening, but it was West Branch that took control of the game after that, toppling the Trojans 45-21 at L.T. Drivas Memorial Field.
Mount Union moved the ball, but struggled with penalties, racking up 11 for 109 yards on the night. Four of those came on personal fouls.
"That's the story of our season," Trojans coach Corey Wertz said. "That's what we have been doing the past three or four weeks. We get something going and then we have a penalty or a missed assignment or a missed block.
"I thought we actually moved the ball some today. We went with a different offense. We felt we had nothing to lose. We moved the ball a little bit, but we just had too many penalties."
The Trojans opened up the game with a punt on their first possession, but after West Branch missed a field goal, Mount Union got the ball back on its own 20.
Four plays later, Devon Kylor took in a 10-yard score and Rafael Lassaletta added the PAT to give the visitors the 7-0 lead.
*Mount Union travels to Tussey Mountain Oct. 26
The touchdown was set up by a 67-yard pass from Trevon Walker to Jamal Smith on a third-and-7 play.
West Branch got on the board less than three minutes later as Chad Speigle took in a 14-yard score. The Warriors missed the extra point, giving the Trojans a 7-6 lead with 3:35 in the first quarter.
After three penalties, including a block in the back on the kickoff return, Mount Union was forced to punt, giving West Branch good field position at its own 49.
But the Trojan defense stepped up, stopping the Warriors on a fourth-and-2 at the Mount Union 43.
Despite starting near midfield, Mount Union continued to shoot themselves in the foot, picking up a penalty for intentional grounding.
West Branch forced a punt, then drove 63 yards down the field for its second touchdown of the game. Speigle capped the 10-play drive with a 10-yard score. The conversion run failed, putting the score at 12-7 with 5:25 left in the first half.
"We challenged the offensive line," said Warriors head coach Lester Smeal. "We weren't getting some things done last week. We challenged them and the kids stepped up."
Mount Union answered with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Walker to Khalil Fortson. Lassaletta added the extra point to give the Trojans a 14-12 lead with 1:41 to play in the frame.
But Warriors quarterback Walker Williams hit a streaking Speigle for an 18-yard pass play that put West Branch at the Trojan 21 with under a minute to play. Speigle scored with one second on the clock.
West Branch took advantage of several more penalties in the second half, including another personal foul and an offsides penalty to score on their opening possession of the third quarter.
Speigle finished the night with 183 yards on 30 carries and five touchdowns.
"That was the game plan for us coming in," said Wertz. "We wanted to stop 30 (Speigle) and we just couldn't stop him."
The Warriors scored two more times in the third quarter, as Williams ran in a 5-yarder and Speigle had another 1-yard run to put West Branch up 39-14 heading into the fourth quarter.
West Branch added its final score of the night with 8:33 left in the fourth when Williams hit Parker Emigh for a 70-yard score. Emigh caught the ball midfield, then outsprinted two Trojan defenders for the touchdown.
Mount Union answered with a one-yard score from Cory Kylor with 3:35 left in the game.
The Trojans recovered an onsides kick after the touchdown, but fumbled on the drive.
"We have to get back to the drawing board," Wertz said. "We aren't going to quit. We have two weeks left, and we are just going to keep plugging away. We may try some new things and see what we can do."
Cory Kylor led the Trojans in rushing with 46 yards on seven carries. Smith added three receptions for 105 yards, while Devon Kylor had three receptions for 50 yards.
Mount Union dropped to 2-6 overall. The Trojans travel to Tussey Mountain on Friday.