Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 15, 2012

WVIAC opener

Charleston nips Mountain Lions

ATHENS — More injuries caught up with the Concord University football team on Saturday afternoon, and the University of Charleston converted a few big plays to leave Callaghan Stadium still undefeated with a 17-14 win over the Mountain Lions.

The game-changer, with 8:17 left in the contest, came when Charleston defensive back Ike Gibson got a blind-side hit on Concord’s freshman quarterback, Albert Rose, and forced him to fumble.

The Golden Eagles’ Jeff Green grabbed the ball and took it 11 yards for a touchdown that erased a 14-10 Concord lead.

Concord head coach Garin Justice said, “The fumble, that wasn’t his [Rose’s] fault. That was his blind side and we had a protection breakdown. That’s nothing on him. That’s one of those plays.”

“Charleston was lucky. Charleston walked away with a lucky win.”

The Mountain Lions (1-2, 0-1 WVIAC) were without six starters who started game one due to injury. But that wasn’t all.

Justice said that two top receivers, Ryan Stewart and Ansel Ponder, were injured on Concord’s second and third offensive plays, though Ponder was able to overcome a hurt neck and play some as the game went on.

The team’s left tackle, Tyler Billings tried to continue playing although “his shoulder popped out of place,” Justice said, which led to at least two of Rose’s six sacks.

Justice said, “I like the way our kids fight. You have eight, nine starters missing. ... The kids keep responding. Are we coming out on the winning side of it? No. But we’re going to get healthy, we’re going to back, and we’re going to win with the guys we’ve got right now.”

Charleston (3-0) started backup quarterback John Knox due to an injury to usual starter Maurice Leak. Knox completed 13 of 21 passes for 162 yards.

Golden Eagles running back Jordan Roberts, who came in averaging 8.7 yards per rush, was limited to 68 net yards on 17 carries. He caught five passes for 77 yards, including a 58-yard gain on a swing pass on the first series of the game that led to a 32-yard field goal.

In the second quarter, Knox ran 46 yards to set up a five-yard scoring run by Roberts and a 10-0 lead.

The home team responded. Concord’s running game got a spark from 5-foot-6 Calvinaugh Jones, who just ruled eligible to play by the NCAA earlier in the week. The freshman carried eight times in a 75-yard drive that ended with Concord’s first score.

Rose reversed his field and dashed to his left, finding the end zone from nine yards out. With Andy Ellington’s point-after kick, Concord was within three points at halftime.

Rose said, “I saw a crease and I took it, and there was nobody there.”

Justice said he knew of Jones’ ability and was happy to be able to use it. “He stepped up,” Justice said. “I thought he was the best back on the field today.” Jones had 111 rushing yards on 22 attempts, and added 21 receiving yards.

Concord took the lead with 2:51 remaining in the third quarter. Defensive back Mike Carey gathered in a Charleston fumble near midfield and the Mountain Lion offense moved 55 yards in eight plays.

PikeView High graduate Ben Nester, seeing his first action at running back, churned for a first and goal and took the ball in from four yards out on the next play, producing the 14-10 lead after Ellington’s kick.

It held until Charleston’s sack-and-score. The Golden Eagles ate four minutes off the fourth-quarter clock, and CU was unable to put points up in two more offensive series in the final 2:27.

Rose accounted for Concord’s 137 aerial yards, going 16 for 27. The Mountain Lions had 142 net rushing yards. Charleston ran for 171 and passed for 168.

Jake Lilly had 15 tackles, one short of his career high. Howard Jordan had eight tackles and Davon Marion had seven stops and two pass breakups.

“The coaches gave us a great game plan,” said Concord nose tackle Josh Miller. “We came out with a chip on our shoulders today. A couple of plays here and there and we would have had this won.”

It was Concord’s first game of the year without senior quarterback Zack Grossi, whose playing career ended due to a car crash last Monday.

Asked about the change at signal-caller, Justice said, “I thought the kids responded as well as they could respond. We were ready to play. Albert stepped in; Albert did a nice job.”

Charleston head coach Pat Kirkland said, “I’ve known Coach Justice for a long time. He’s an excellent football coach, a lot of class. ... I think the world of Garin, of Coach Justice.”

Kirkland added, “Both teams fought hard. I know he’s going to have a lot of success, and they’re going to continue to have a great year.”

At one point, after delivering a long list of injured players, Justice said, “It’s kind of been our week. And we’ll be ready to move on, and go to West Virginia State.”

Concord will seek its first conference win next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Institute.

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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