By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
It was a beautiful sunny and 75 on the Hilltop for the homecoming game and the red hot Hilltoppers came into the game sitting in the number five spot in the Mountain East Conference rankings with a 3-2 record and they were looking to win their fourth straight game.
Kickoff at West Family Stadium was right at noon against the Cavaliers of UVA-Wise. Both teams came into the game on three game winning streaks and for the Hilltoppers that is their longest streak since 2009 where they won 11 games in a row.
The offense had to go without their star wide receiver Anton McCallum due to a broken wrist that he suffered last week against Charleston. The game started in thrilling fashion due to the long touchdown run by UVA-Wise running back, Carlton Griffith on the second play of the game. The touchdown run was 55-yards and the Cavaliers up 7-0, 46 seconds into the game. Not more than two minutes later the Hilltoppers drove down the field on a four play 76-yard drive for a 1-yard touchdown run by Tyler Peterson to even the score.
The second quarter was a very hard fought quarter with no scores and a lot of three and outs for both offenses. At halftime, UVA-Wise had 173 passing yards and West Liberty had just 46. The time of possession was very lopsided with Wise having 20 minutes and West liberty 10.
The Cavaliers were first to score in the second half with a 5-yard run by Javonte Latney and with the successful two-point conversion pass, the score was all tied up at 21. On the ensuing kickoff by UVA-Wise, West Liberty’s Osman Kargbo took the kick all the way back to the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown. Unfortunately the extra point was missed by kicker Christian Morris which would ultimately hurt the Hilltoppers down the stretch. West Liberty was then up 27-21 and since 2005 the Hilltoppers were 60-6 when leading after the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter there was only one score and it was the deciding touchdown that won UVA-Wise the game. After a long 14 play 71-yard drive the Cavaliers found themselves in the end zone with a touchdown pass from Jeremy Eubank to Jacob Cousins from four yards out. Trent Martin made the extra point to put UVA-Wise up 28-27 with eight minutes left in the game.
With minutes left on the clock Conwell drove the offense down the field and got them as close as the eight yard line. They were unable to find the end zone with less than a minute, so they lined up for a 27-yard field goal with 40 seconds left on the clock. Due to a false start penalty they were forced to back up five yards and make it a 32-yard field goal. After the snap, and the hold with the ball in the air in was blocked at the line of scrimmage and the West Liberty’s hopes of winning sank low. UVA-Wise got the ball back after the blocked field goal and ran the clock out and went home with a victory.
Dakota Conwell rushed for 119 yards and threw for 121 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Dan Monteroso finished with seven catches and 89 yards and one touchdown. The Cavaliers ended the game with 500 total yards and West Liberty ended with 256. So, the final score from West Family Stadium was 28-27 with the Hilltoppers coming out on the wrong side of the contest on homecoming.
Next week the Hilltoppers will travel to play Notre Dame of Ohio for a noon kickoff. Be sure to grab this week’s issue of the Trumpet for a game preview.
Photos by Cody Shook, Daniel Morgan and Jalyn Bolyard