Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 28, 2012

Lions roar and soar

ATHENS — Ansel Ponder had nine receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns to help lead the Concord Mountain Lions to a 41-10 win over the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons, Saturday afternoon at Callaghan Field on the CU campus.

Threatening clouds loomed over the field throughout the game, but it was the Concord defense and the Concord passing game that made a dreary day for Fairmont State.

Usually the defense takes top billing for the Mountain Lions, but on Saturday the offense came ready to play and the 41 points scored were the most put on the scoreboard this season.

“It’s the first time we’ve scored over 30 points this year,” said CU head coach Gavin Justice. “I love our defense, but it gets old saying ‘Good job defense…’ It’s nice to see us come out and win decisively in all three phases. It’s nice to see all three phases of the game click.”

And click did the Concord offense. Early on the Evin Dusold-Ponder connection proved to be the money make for the Mountain Lions. Dusold connected with the former Bluefield Beaver on pass plays of 8, 43 and 16 yards. CU drove to the Fairmont State four on Ponder’s 16-yard reception before Ryan Wilson picked off Dusold in the end zone to end the Mountain Lions threat.

Concord’s defense took over and forced a three-and-out. On CU’s ensuing possession Dusold fired the deep ball to Ponder, who, covered by a Fighting Falcon defender, used his basketball skills, blocked out, jumped high, snagged the ball from the defender and carried it into the end zone for the first score of the afternoon. Andy Ellington’s point after made it 7-0 with 1:11 to go in the opening quarter.

Seconds into the fourth quarter the Mountain Lions defense made another stand. With Fairmont facing fourth and inches, quarterback Bobby Vega got a bad shotgun snap and fumbled, the ball recovered by CU’s Riyadh Richardson at the Falcons’ 49.

A mix of the run and pass took the ball deep into Fairmont State territory and Jocorey Robins bulled in from one yard out. Ellington’s kick made it 14-0.

Another big Concord defensive play came when Justin Lyles forced a fumble and another former Bluefield Beaver, Keith Ferguson, pounced on the ball at the Fairmont 22.

Dusold and Ponder connected again on another great catch by Ponder that took the ball to the five yard line.  Dusold and Randall Hawkins teamed up on a four-yard pass play for the score and Ellington’s kick made it 21-0, Lions.

It appeared that CU would go into the half without a shutout, but it did not happen. On third and long in CU territory, Howard Jordan nearly picked off Vega. The official ruled the pass incomplete, but Jordan spiked the ball off the turf and was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The play gave Fairmont State a first down the eventually led to Daniel Monroe’s 23 yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in the half.

After punting to the Falcons midway through the third quarter. Jake Lilly knocked the ball loose from Fairmont’s Collin Alford and Matt Anderson pounced on the loose ball to give the Lions possession at the Fairmont State 22. Keeping it on the ground CU marched on the short field, all rushes by Robbins, to the two before Dusold threw a perfect fade pattern to Ponder in the right corner of the end zone. Ellington’s kick went through the pipes and Concord’s went up 28-3.

Ponder’s final TD of the day came on an untimed play at the end of the third quarter, after a CU illegal shift penalty pushed the ball from the one to the six yard line. Dusold threw another fade pattern to Ponder for the score culminating a nine play, 58-yard drive. Bryan Wilson blocked Ellington’s point after.

“I’m scratching my head as far as why I haven’t thrown to him (Ponder) more,” Justice said. “Ansel is great a and we’re all familiar with his story, coming from Western Michigan, being a Division I player. I think people really saw today why he was a Division I football player… He’s a weapon we’ve got to use more and I’m kicking myself for not playing him more.”

Ponder was just glad to contribute to the team and get a victory.

“Our coaches prepared us well, they had an excellent game plan and we went out and executed,” Ponder said. “We’ve been through two, three quarterbacks and we as receivers are starting to get that chemistry, and it’s showing on the field.

“I was trying to come in and contribute. That has been my focus the entire season. I am grateful that they embraced me well when I came it, it made a difference.”

The Mountain Lions lit up the board again with 11:09 to go in the fourth on a five yard run by Calvinaugh Jones and Ellington’s kick made it 41-3.

Fairmont State’s lone touchdown came after a snap on a punt went over the head and through the hands of Concord punter Brad Cox. Matt Griffin recovered at the Lions’ four and on the first play from scrimmage Shad Alexander rushed in for the touchdown and John Dearstine booted the extra point through the pipes to make it 41-10.

Jake Lilly again led the Mountain Lions in tackles with 13. The Bluefield High graduate said it would not be possible without teamwork.

“Our d-line, we’re kind of low on d-linemen right now, we’ve got four rotating, but they do an excellent job for the linebackers to scrape and make some plays, plus our safeties have got hard heads and they just come down,” Lilly said. “If they (runners) get by the linebackers, they are going to get smacked by the safeties.

The Concord defense held FSU running back Daniel Monroe to 12 yards rushing. Monroe came into the game as one of the leading rushers in the WVIAC. As a team Fairmont ran for only 70 yards total.

“It was a big conference win,” Lilly said. “Our offense picked it up a lot, with Evin Dusold, he’s come a long way and our defense just keeps playing hard, getting to the ball, making plays and getting off the field.”

Asked what the team needed to do in the final two games of the season, Lilly said, “All we can do is just go out, play the game and have fun, and try to get the W.”

Concord, 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the WVIAC plays its final home game next Saturday against West Liberty State.

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