By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
The West Liberty football team came up short in this afternoon’s battle against West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon, W.Va., by a score of 34-0. Both teams came into the matchup with 1-0 records after both winning on their opening nights last Thursday.
Both teams had to fight the strong winds all day long, but the Bobcats came out firing on all cylinders after forcing a three and out on the Topper’s first drive, forcing a punt that was returned for a 72-yard touchdown by Jujuan Linzy to put Wesleyan on top 7-0 after Tyler Fischer split the uprights on the point after attempt.
The Hilltoppers were unable to get any steady offense going in the first half, with their biggest scoring opportunity coming late in the second quarter on a beautiful throw by quarterback Brenton Colabella to the end zone, but the referees deemed the wide receiver out of bounds.
The Bobcats blocked a punt early in the first quarter and returned it for a touchdown giving them the 14-0 lead, and then a few minutes later, Wesleyan quarterback Ryan Deal connected with Jujuan Linzy for a 22-yard touchdown pass to go up 20-0 after a missed extra point attempt by Fischer. With 40 seconds left in the first half, West Liberty fumbled right around midfield and Wesleyan linebacker Brandon Grayson recovered the fumble and returned it for a 40-yard touchdown to go up 27-0 going into halftime.
The West Liberty defense came out to play in the third quarter forcing two straight turnover on downs, but the offense was plagued by penalties and miscues leading to fourth down punts. The lights out defense for the Toppers kept the game at a 27-0 score after three quarters.
The first play of the fourth quarter went for a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth and five from Deal to wide receiver Kenny Lewis Jr. to put the Bobcats up 34-0 after another Fischer extra point field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Hilltoppers committed a fumble that was recovered by the Bobcats deep in West Liberty territory. The defense stepped up to stop Wesleyan in their tracks before allowing a score. West Liberty put together a great drive after getting the ball back from Wesleyan, but it was all for nod as the Bobcats intercepted a third down pass at the goal line to take all of the momentum away from the Toppers.
West Liberty got one more offensive possession late in the fourth quarter, but a fumble in Wesleyan territory gave the Bobcats the ball back and they would hold on to win the game 34-0.
The Toppers fall to 1-1 on the season but they will be back in action this Thursday at West Family Stadium, where they will take on the University of Charleston in a Mountain East Conference match-up. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., against the 1-1 Golden Eagles. Be sure to grab this week’s issue of the Trumpet for the game preview.