By Logan Arneson, Contributing Writer
Football up on the hilltop has officially started up again. The West Liberty Hilltoppers kicked off their season against the Urbana Blue Knights at 7:10 p.m. Having a winning history with this team, being 6-1 with previous played games, the Hilltoppers were confident they would achieve success.
The Blue Knights received the opening kickoff and the first game of the season was officially underway. Things were looking decent for the Blue Knights until quarterback Tajuan
Green threw an interception right into the hands of Chris Mitchell; Mitchell returned the ball 43-yards deep into Knights territory. Although the Hilltoppers could not get the ball much further down the field, kicker Christian Morris made a 40-yard field goal, putting the Hilltoppers on the scoreboard and in the lead.
Both teams then proceeded to go three-and-out on their possessions. But an interesting twist happened when punt returner Trevon Saunders returned Morris’ punt for a touchdown; fortunate enough for the Hilltoppers, there was a penalty and the touchdown was called back. In their next possession, the Hilltoppers managed to strut down the field and complete a 34-yard touchdown pass to receiver Osman Kargbo, raising the Hilltoppers lead 10-0.
The second quarter started off slow with neither team being able to capitalize on possession with the ball. This was the case until the Blue Knights were able to put together an 80-yard scoring drive which resulted in a touchdown pass from quarterback Green to receiver Saunders for 27 yards. Luckily, the Knights missed their extra point keeping the score 10-6 in favor of the Hilltoppers.
Finishing off the half with this score head coach of the Hilltopers, Roger Waialae, was not impressed with their play so far; as he stated, “Our offense is very sloppy and needs to improve.” Coming out in the second half with hopefully more motivation, the Hilltoppers were able to keep the ball moving towards Knight territory. They finished the drive with a touchdown pass connecting from quarterback Brent Colabella to Quinton Jones from 17 yards out. With Morris completing yet another extra point, he pushed the Hilltoppers lead up 17-6.
This did not strike the Blue Knights hard enough, as they brushed off the opposing score and were able to march down the field 80 yards themselves, resulting with a 3-yard touchdown run from Green. With Blue Knights kicker Josh Cole splitting the up rights on the extra point, the score was now set 17-13 with the Hilltoppers still out in front.
The Hilltoppers tried to rally back, but were met at a crossroad when quarterback Colabella was sacked and then fumbled the ball, which was ultimately recovered by the Blue Knights. This did not even phase the defense as defensive back Terrance Baldwin returned an interception for a 63-yard touchdown, building the lead by 24-13.
Now in dire need for points on the board, the Blue Knights began to play even tougher. In only nine plays, they were able to smash the ball 76 yards down into the Hilltoppers’ endzone. Making things more interesting, Green completed a 2-point conversion with a pass to Saunders, making a tight game at 24-21 with only 5:12 left in the fourth quarter.
With this being the last scoring event to happen in the game, time ran out on the Blue Knights clock to win and the Hilltoppers opened up their season with a close, yet successful game.
The Hilltoppers will play away next Saturday against West Virginia Wesleyan College at 1 p.m. Be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Trumpet for a game preview.
Photo credit: Taylor Long