Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 4, 2012

West Liberty denied by Mountain Lions

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

ATHENS — It’s an unusual way for a football team to score 21 points, but it was more than enough to provide the Concord Mountain Lions and their fans with a satisfying 21-3 win over West Liberty University Saturday afternoon in their final home contest of this season.

Concord (6-4, 5-2 in conference play) scored on a pass reception for a touchdown, a short scoring run by reliable fullback Ben Nester, one extra point kick, two long field goals and a safety to account for their points on a brisk but sunny “senior day” at Callaghan Stadium.

The other side of the coin was a CU defense that recorded four interceptions, forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Josh Miller, and limited the visiting Hilltoppers’ scoring to a 48-yard field goal.Will Greathouse’s sack of West Liberty quarterback L.D. Crow with five minutes left in the game stretched the lead to 15 points and took the wind out of the Hilltoppers’ sails.

“Today, we just capitalized on all their mistakes,” Miller said.

Concord head coach Garin Justice said, “The defense, they’re playing great football. They’ve been playing great football all season long.”

Senior cornerback Nate Pollard alluded to the defense’s sense of its importance to the team’s success by stating, “During the game, it’s all about us. That’s the quote we’ve been using. ‘It’s all about us.’ ”

West Liberty (5-5, 4-4) head coach Roger Waialalae said, “I thought both defenses have been playing well all year. They (Concord) were able to stay turnover-free. That was the key today.”

The Concord offense ate up almost 12 minutes of the first-quarter clock en route to an eventual 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession.

Pollard got it started by returning the opening kickoff 28 yards. Twice in their first drive, the Mountain Lions faced fourth down and retained possession — once on a West Liberty personal-foul penalty, and again when Evin Dusold passed to Darrick Williams for 11 yards on fourth and 11.

Dusold rifled a pass to Tyler Smith on third and goal, and Smith dove over the goal line, sandwiched between defenders, for the game’s first score. Andy Ellington’s kick gave the home squad a 7-0 lead.

Dusold, a senior, admitted that his final home game “was exciting. It was a little emotional, going out on your home field.”

West Liberty quarterback Dylan Lagarde had two passes picked off in the first half, by steady defensive back Mike Carey and by senior defensive lineman Mike Hodeib. The latter play was Lagarde’s last of the day. He was replaced by Crow, who would be intercepted by Davon Marion and Riyadh Richardson.

“Lagarde was struggling at the time we yanked him,” Waialalae said. “We thought L.D. gave us the best chance to get the win.”

In the second quarter, Concord again went for it on fourth down in the red zone. With less than a yard to go for a first down, the ball came loose on the center exchange. Dusold recovered it behind the line of scrimmage, but the play didn’t count because a Hilltopper was off-side before the snap.

The resulting penalty gave Concord a first and goal at the 4, and on the next play, Nester slammed across. Ellington’s point-after kick failed.

Hodieb’s first pass interception as a Mountain Lion, in his final home game, gave Concord the ball near midfield. The offense bogged down a bit, but Ellington gave CU its 16-0 halftime lead on a 40-yard field goal.

The first four possessions after halftime ended with punts. West Liberty eventually secured a first down at the CU 36, but Concord’s Jake Lilly popped ball-carrier Vernon Dunnom, forcing a fumble that Miller recovered.

That led to a 50-yard field goal attempt by Ellington, which fell short.

“That’s a field goal I can make,” the freshman place-kicker said after the game. “It was a mental mistake. I was too excited. But you have to shake it off and get ready for the next one.”

“I’ve tried to overcome as much adversity as I can — and just keep on kicking.”

His chance to kick again did not come immediately. Early in the fourth quarter, West Liberty running back Isiah Moody ran 27 yards on a nice draw play to set up a 48-yard field goal by Jeff Hoak, and the Concord margin was cut to 16-3.

Fortune, or level-headed action, shone on the Mountain Lions again with about five minutes remaining. Concord senior Brad Cox took the field for his eighth punt of the day, but the snap sailed over his head. He retrieved the ball, deftly side-stepped out of pressure, and booted the ball to the WLU 3-yard line — where Lilly downed it.

“That’s the story of Brad’s career,” Justice said. “He’s always cool-headed and calm, and responds under pressure.”

On the next play, Greathouse landed on Crow in the end zone like a ton of bricks to score a safety.

Concord ran three more plays and sent Ellington out for a 44-yard field goal, which split the uprights and ended the day’s scoring.

Dusold completed 19 of his 37 passes for 174 yards, while the run game managed only 80 net yards. Ansel Ponder and Randall Hawkins had four receptions each. Dusold was sacked three times.

West Liberty’s quarterbacks combined to go 13 for 29 for 85 yards. Moody was the game’s top rusher, accounting for 73 of his team’s 108 rushing yards.

Lilly led CU with 11 tackles and Marion had seven stops.

The game included 14 punts and 17 penalties by the teams combined.

Concord players and their families lingered on the artificial turf after the final whistle, taking snapshots with a variety of cameras and cellphones.

“It was nice to let the seniors go out with a win,” Justice said of the group of 19 upperclassmen. “Now that’s four winning seasons in a row. We wanted to give those guys a guarantee of a winning season. We’re real proud of these guys and we’re going to miss them next year.”

—Contact Tom Bone