By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
West Liberty took on Glenville State College and the Hilltoppers came away with a 41-24 victory. The Hilltoppers came into the game on a three game losing streak and sitting in sixth place in the Mountain East Conference. The Pioneers had a 5-4 record and they came into the game sitting in fifth place.
It was a rainy night in Glenville, W.Va. and the Pioneers got off to a fast start as they drove down the field on the first drive and scored a touchdown, only taking a minute and twenty-four seconds off of the clock. Dante Roberts found an open DJ Williams for 23 yards for the first touchdown on the night to put the Pioneers up 7-0 after the made extra point.
We welcomed back senior wide receiver Anton McCallum, fresh off of a wrist injury that he suffered a few weeks ago against Charleston. Senior quarterback, Dakota Conwell threw a great pass 42 yards down the sideline to McCallum to even the score up at seven after a made extra point attempt by kicker Christian Morris.
The first turnover in the game came halfway through the first quarter when Conwell dropped back to pass and looked to find wide receiver Dan Monteroso, but they didn’t seem to be on the same page and a Glenville safety intercepted the pass on his own 15 yard line. A long jet-sweep run put the Pioneers in great field position. Glenville found the end zone on a run up the middle, but a holding penalty negated the run and took them back 10 yards. The very next play the quarterback got sacked and fumbled the football, so the Hilltoppers took over deep in their own territory.
With one minute and twenty-six seconds left in the first quarter, Conwell threw his second interception of the night after an acrobatic catch by senior defensive back Zack Mayes. He didn’t return the interception for any yards but the Pioneers took over on the West Liberty 31-yard line. The offense wasn’t able to get anything going so they had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Chandler Carrera, to put the Glenville up 10-7 to start the 2nd quarter.
On Glenville’s next possession, they went for it on 4th down and caught multiple Hilltoppers offsides and used that free play to throw a long touchdown pass down the sideline to wide receiver Dante Absher for a 38-yard score. After the made extra point the Pioneers went up 17-7 with 11 minutes and 43 seconds left in the first half.
The very next offensive play for the Hilltoppers, Conwell took the snap from the shotgun position and then took a few steps towards the line of scrimmage to show run, but then he dropped back and threw a beautiful ball to the other 30-yard line where Anton McCallum caught it and won the foot race to the end zone for a 74-yard touchdown. Christian Morris came on for the extra point attempt and he kicked it straight through the uprights to make it a three point game.
Glenville wasn’t backing down in this game, even in the rain; they managed to get a big reception down the field on their next drive to put them into the red zone. A facemask penalty on the next play put the Pioneers inside the 10-yard line and they wasted no time as quarterback Dante Roberts threw a corner fade to his wide receiver Dante Absher for the 8-yard score. After the point after attempt they went up by 10 with 8:35 left in the half.
Solomon Dixon took the ensuing kickoff to mid-field giving the Hilltoppers great field position. Conwell ran for a first down to extend the drive and after a defensive pass interference call on the Pioneers, the Hilltoppers had the ball in the red zone and were in business. Conwell threw a back shoulder pass down the sideline to Monteroso from 15-yards out for the touchdown and after another Christian Morris make; the lead was cut down to three.
Conwell threw his third interception late in the 2nd quarter as defensive back Andre Dalton made the grab and returned it for 17 yards. Dante Absher caught a 31-yard pass to put the Pioneers deep in Hilltopper territory. The next play the handoff to the running back was fumbled and defensive lineman Kelechi Adoma picked it up to give West Liberty the ball back with just over a minute left in the game. Unfortunately the drive stalled and they were forced to punt.
On the last play of the quarter Glenville chucked up a hail-mary and luckily for the Pioneers there was a defensive pass interference call on a West Liberty defensive back so the Pioneers got one last play. They went for the long field goal but it was blocked by a Hilltopper lineman. West Liberty went into the half down 21-24.
It took no time at all for the Hilltoppers to score in the 2nd half as Solomon Dixon took the kickoff 95-yards to the end zone for a touchdown. After a Christian Morris extra point make, the Hilltoppers went up 28-24 early in the third quarter. On the next kickoff Glenville took it all the way back to the West Liberty 20 yard line. They weren’t able to capitalize on the great field position, as they were forced to kick field goal from 40 yards out and they missed wide left.
Jeremiah Ortiz got the majority of the carries tonight and his longest came in the third quarter and it went for 54 yards with a late hit penalty adding extra yards onto the run. The next play Conwell looked for Monteroso in the endzone and they were unable to connect, but fortunately there was a defensive pass interference call which moved the offense up 15 yards. Two plays later they tried the same play and this time they connected on a 27-yard touchdown pass as Monteroso was able to out jump the Glenville defensive back to put the Hilltoppers up 35-24 after a Christian Morris made extra point.
A huge play on special teams happened on the next kickoff as the returner got tackled and on his way to the ground, the ball popped loose and ended up right in Brandon Morrison’s hands and he took it all the way back to the end zone for another Hilltopper touchdown. West Liberty went up 41-24 after a botched extra point attempt.
Redshirt-freshman Ty Holmes stepped up big in many ways for the Hilltoppers tonight, but his biggest contribution came late in the third quarter as he jumped a route and intercepted a Dante Roberts pass.
After a few empty possessions by both teams, the Hilltoppers got the ball back with just over 12 minutes and started a quality drive. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 39-yard reception by wide receiver Ian Kelly helped move the Hilltoppers down the field but they were eventually forced to punt.
The fourth quarter went fast for the Hilltoppers as they tried to run out the clock to walk away with the victory at Glenville. West Liberty came away with a 41-24 victory against the Pioneers of Glenville State College. Conwell threw for 4 touchdowns and 221 yards. McCallum only caught two passes but they both went for touchdowns and a total of 116 yards receiving. Jeremiah Ortiz finished the game with 153 yards rushing on the game. West Liberty moves to 4-6 on the season after the win.
West Liberty will be back in action next Saturday in their final game of the year against West Virginia State University. The game is scheduled for a noon kickoff at West Family Stadium. Be sure to grab this week’s issue of the Trumpet for a game preview.