The MEC Fights to the Finish in Week 5 - A Recap
by, 10-05-2016 at 09:53 PM (527 Views)
Week 5 offered plenty of excitement as 3-of-5 contests were decided on plays during the waning seconds of the games. Despite plenty of self-inflicted wounds, Concord tried to mount a comeback. “Fight” may be the word to define the teams in the Mountain East Conference up to this point. The conference as a whole has become very scrappy with teams refusing to go quietly into that locker room. Congratulations to the UVA-Wise Cavaliers. Their win puts them above .500 (3-2) almost halfway through the season; a point in time when they were usually still seeking that first win.
So, what happened ….
West Virginia Wesleyan 24
West Liberty 28
A Tale of Two Halves is like a Weird Al parody of a Dickens’ classic that is not uncommon in football; and that’s the script the Hilltoppers followed in last Thursday night’s home contest against the WV Wesleyan Bobcats. Trailing 0-17 at the half, West Liberty outscored the Bobcats 28-7 in the second half to claim their first home victory—and they owed it to every fan who stayed to watch the rain-soaked game.
WV Wesleyan running back Michael Anderson (28-141-2) scored the initial points for the Bobcats on an 11-yard delayed draw touchdown run. Marcus Smith returned a punt 54 yards for the Bobcats second touchdown on an impressive return during which I lost count how many times Hilltoppers had a hold of him or his jersey. With less than five minutes to play in the half WV Wesleyan didn’t elect to go conservative; instead marching down the field to kick a 34-yard field goal to go into the locker rooms up 17-0. The Bobcats were methodical early on, with quarterback Ryan Deal (19-39-244-0-1) completing many short-to-mid-range passes to help take the focus away from Anderson. Key Hilltopper penalties also allowed WV Wesleyan to extend drives early on when pinned deep.
West Liberty took command of the second half. Their first touchdown was setup by a Michael Anderson fumble giving the Hilltoppers possession at the Bobcat 21 yard line. Quarterback Dakota Conwell (10-34-116-3-1; 17-94) eventually hooked up with Tyler Peterson; whose lone catch for the night was a 6-yard touchdown pass. After forcing the Bobcats to punt on their next possession, running back Tyriq Dorsett (6-88-1) scored on a 57-yard touchdown run; pulling the Hilltoppers to within 3. Early in the 4th quarter a 55-yard Conwell-to-Dan Moteroso (4-71-1) touchdown pass gave the Hilltoppers their first lead of the game. The teams would trade scores once more ultimately leaving West Liberty on top at home for a second-consecutive victory.
Sometimes when a team is playing well but can’t quite seal the deal, it’s a matter of having the breaks go their way. In addition to his early second-half fumble, Anderson also had two long touchdown runs called back for Holding penalties. Not only did West Liberty get a few breaks—more importantly—they took advantage of ‘em
What is a team to do when they win the previous week by virtually running the ball every play? Try it again, of course!
Running backs Marvin Elam (23-139-3) and Tevion Cappe (23-130-0) each had 23 carries for well over 100 yards rushing apiece. Elam barely edged Cappe in yardage, but he was responsible for three of the team’s four rushing touchdowns. All told, the Golden Eagles rushed the ball 61 times for 343 yards. Even wide receiver Joey Augustin (3-24-0, 6-50-0) got in on the action with five carries for 60 yards. I’ve said repeatedly throughout the season that Charleston’s offensive line has been the most dominant I’ve seen this year; and they clearly continue to get the job done. Charleston had 61 rushing plays to 18 pass plays; so it’s no surprise to the defense what’s coming—yet it can’t be stopped.
Charleston took an early lead and continued to build on it. The Mountain Lions continued to fight back behind the play of quarterback Brian Novak who completed over half of his passes (19-34-256-1-1), freshman running back JaVaughn Burrus (15-81-0) and wide receiver Jermeil Douse (9-102-0).
Two of Marvin Elam’s rushing touchdowns came in the fourth quarter to help avoid a Concord comeback. Three turnovers for the Mountain Lions and over 100 yards in penalties aided a Golden Eagles victory. Also helping the cause for the Golden Eagles was maintaining possession almost 13-minutes longer than Concord. That’s right, Charleston had the ball for almost an entire quarter longer than their opponent. That’s a recipe for a fatigued Mountain Lion defense to give up a lot of rushing yards. Helping the time of possession was First Downs. When many teams struggle to get 20 first downs in a game, Charleston had 20 first downs from rushing plays alone—30 first downs total during the game.
I said earlier that Charleston found an identity; and they may continue to ride it to victory in the coming weeks.
Notre Dame 34
Glenville State 28
I have reached my peak as far as predictions go. In the Week 5 preview blog, I predicted Notre Dame College would defeat Glenville State 34-28; and that worked out well.
This was a must-win game for both teams to maintain a strong chance of reaching the playoffs. While not eliminated mathematically, two-loss MEC (and/or WVIAC) teams don’t fare well in consideration for the playoffs.
The first half involved some back-and-forth on the scoreboard. Glenville State started the scoring with a 7-0 lead. Notre Dame tied the score. Notre Dame took a 14-7 lead. Glenville State tied the score. Glenville State raised the stakes in the second half. After coming back from the locker room tied at 14-14, the Pioneers went ahead two scores with a 28-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Their fourth touchdown on the day was the result of a Notre Dame kick return fumble giving Glenville State first-and-ten at their opponent’s 21 yard line. A 21-yard touchdown completion one play later had the home crowd feeling optimistic.
The Falcons had two things going for them that Glenville State didn’t. First is wide receiver Mitchell Shegos (11-266-3), whose 54-yard touchdown pass—his third 50+ yard touchdown catch of the day—from quarterback Malik Grove (20-31-351-4-0; 23-100-0) pulled the Falcons within seven points with five minutes to play in the 3rd quarter. Lastly, when it’s your day—it’s your day. And it was wide receiver BJ Baldwin’s (2-52-1) day. Let’s just say a 44-yard touchdown catch as time expires for the go-ahead score is a pretty good way to spend a birthday.
Both quarterbacks completed approximately 66% of their passes with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Dante Absher (11-100-2) continues to be a favorite target of Pioneer quarterback Dante Roberts (28-42-325-4-0). Both schools had an effective ground game. Malik Grove was as effective with his legs as he was with his arm; but the Falcons also had a solid effort from DJ Greene (19-79-1) which prevents teams from being able to key in on Grove. Thomas Boles (10-95-0) led the rushing attack for Glenville State.
The Falcons overcame two fumbles thanks to Shegos’ record-breaking day and Malik Grove’s 451 all-purpose yards. In the end they needed an all-or-nothing, clock-expiring 44-yard touchdown pass to stay in contention. They departed Glenville breathing a huge sigh of relief.
WV State 37
Air raid sirens had to be sounding throughout Institute, WV as both teams treated this game as their personal Battle of Midway, seeking air superiority.
Austin Hensley (38-58-494-4-2) was back in action for the Yellow Jackets setting a pretty high bar for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Earlier in the season Hensley picked up where Matt Kinnick left off due to an injury and this week’s game was no exception. The Cavaliers’ secondary had trouble covering the four guys Hensley distributed the ball to. Often times a quarterback who throws for almost 500 yards will involve six-to-eight different receivers. Hensley only needed Tyrell Henderso (9-183-2), AJ Barrette (11-166-1), Quinton Gray (11-101-0) and Akil Washington (7-44-1). Juawan Etheredge was missing in action and it hurt their rushing attack which was limited to just 26 yards.
Cavalier quarterback Brycen Lee (31-56-423-2-0) connected with eight different receivers. His primary weapons proved to be James Cousins (8-127-2) who had a big week last week and Corey Hilberath (6-91-0). James Cousins has caught two touchdown passes in each of his last two games. Providing some balance to the Cavalier charge was running back Carlton Griffith (28-94-0) who led the team to 126 total rushing yards—100 more than their foe.
The lead changed eight times in this game. Both teams kept the officials active with penalties. And the field goal units were almost as active as the quarterbacks. Wise’s kicker, Trent Martin, outscored the Urbana Blue Knights (14 points) with his six-for-six effort on field goal attempts (24, 31, 24, 21, 32, 28).
Trent Martin converted the 32-yard field goal with 1:36 left to play in the game to raise the Cavalier's lead to five points. The Yellow Jackets were forced to score a touchdown. And from well within their own territory, WV State did just that. One minute-and-eleven seconds later Hensley completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Akil Washington. Their two-point attempt failed. But alas, after the back-and-forth nature of the game, the Yellow Jackets were :25 away from victory at home. Brycen Lee and the Cavaliers only need 24 of those 25 seconds to drive down the field and convert on a 28-yard game-winning field goal.
Each team was forced to drive deep to score on those final possessions; and each team wanted it bad enough to convert. Unless you have ties to one of these schools, you might feel as bad for WV State as you feel excited for UVA-Wise.
Fairmont State 48
The Fighting Falcons remain undefeated after a 48-14 rout of the Urbana Blue Knights. Urbana put their 14 points on the board early in the game. Fairmont State then used its talent to outscore the Blue Knights 41-0. Leading the effort for the Falcons was quarterback Cooper Hibbs (22-37-240-2-1) who found favorite targets Laurence King (9-94-1) and Fabian Guerra (6-76-1) throughout the day. Running back James Oliver (17-127-1) led the rushing attack this week; with half of those yards coming on a 61-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The defense contributed to the scoreboard as well when cornerback Stephen Turner returned an interception 85 yards for a pick-six.
Of course every win is important, but Fairmont State’s second-half schedule is against teams with winning records and they need to keep their record clean as long as possible to stay in the hunt. Their stats may not be as explosive as other schools, but so far their record is among the best … and that’s where it matters.