Matchup in the secondary...

Matchup in the secondary... Concord’s Nathan Tanner (26) tries to get Around West Virginia State’s Terrence Washington (21) during the Yellow Jackets’ 25-22 win at Callaghan Stadium Saturday.

ATHENS — It was a spectacular fall Saturday for a Concord University homecoming weekend, as long as the home crowd didn’t look at the football scoreboard.

The visiting Yellow Jackets of West Virginia State rode the running of Brian Mitchell to a 25-22 victory over the Concord Mountain Lions on Saturday night in Athens, in the first nighttime homecoming game in school history.

There were fireworks after every Concord score, and a big display following the game, but it was Mitchell who lit up the scoreboard.

Mitchell ran the ball 30 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jackets.

Concord was hoping to pull off a repeat of their 24-13 homecoming win over State two years ago in Athens.

The Mountain Lions were the first to capitalize on an opportunity. They drove 81 yards in three-and-a-half minutes ending with a five-yard touchdown pass from freshman Tommy Frazier to freshman Nathan Tanner, who was lurking at the end line waiting for the ball. The touchdown was set up by a 68-yard run by Orlando Bryant.

State answered with a 75-yard drive in four minutes. Quarterback Kevin O’Brien tossed an 11-yard strike to running back Brian Mitchell, but the point-after kick was low and Concord retained a 7-6 lead.

Midway through the second quarter the Yellow Jackets notched their second touchdown courtesy of a circus catch by receiver Larry Hinton. However the two-point pass play failed, and the two teams went into halftime with State ahead 12-7.

Concord was hampered by penalties in the first half but remained very much in the contest.

The only score of the third period belonged to Concord. It was set up by a 41-yard interception return by Joe Thomas. It ended with an eight-yard touchdown pass, flung by Frazier just as he was about to be hammered. The ball was caught by Chris O’Neal and Zach Boyd’s kick gave Concord its last lead, 14-12.

Thomas intercepted another ball early in the fourth quarter outfighting a State defender, but Concord was forced to punt. Two plays later Mitchell took off on a 61-yard run, dodging Concord defenders all the way.

About two minutes later State was threatening again when Concord was called for pass interference in its end zone. Mitchell took the ball in from two yards out for a 25-14 advantage but the point-after kick was blocked.

Concord got on the scoreboard again with about three minutes left in the game. Frazier once again released the ball at the last instant down the middle, where it fell into the hands of Dustin Greenwood who ran it in for a 27-yard score.

Frazier hooked up with Greenwood on a similar desperation pass for the two-point conversion.

Greenwood wrestled the ball away from a State defender for the two-point play, which cut the margin to three points.

In the final two minutes Concord forced State to punt but Eric Edwards dislodged the ball from Concord’s Jerry Robinson and Edwards recovered the muffed punt to preserve the win.

Concord coach Greg Quick said, “Our kids were well prepared. Those young kids (on offense) are giving a heck of an effort.

“We’ll just keep battling. ...Our kids are fighting. They’ll persist, and we’re going to get this thing turned around.”

Quick praised the play of freshman quarterback Frazier. “His poise on that two-point play was phenomenal.”

Greenwood was excited about the comeback possibilities after his late score.

“I thought that was really going to ignite the team,” Greenwood said. “But we didn’t have a lot of time. The clock was our enemy at that point. It’s disappointing that we got started so late.”

West Virginia State coach Earl Monroe said, “It was a hard-fought Saturday night in Athens. No doubt about it. ...They (Concord) fought hard, to the end. We’re just fortunate to come up with a win tonight.”

Discussing Bryant’s 68-yard run Monroe said, “They caught us in a blitz and got us kicked out. We just gave up one big play and (our team) didn’t get discouraged and we kind of held on in the second half.

“They had us off-key there for a while defensively,” Monroe said, “but finally we settled down and stopped them.”

As for Mitchell, Monroe said, “He’s been running hard for us all year. We had a lot of question marks at running back coming into this season and he’s answered them.”

For Concord Tanner caught nine passes for 62 yards. Frazier was 19-for-37 passing for 181 yards, and Bryant gained 93 yards on eight rushes.

But Concord committed 13 penalties for 166 yards and were out-gained in net yardage on the ground 208 to 85.

The Mountain Lions play Shepherd on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Athens. The Rams are ranked in the top 25 of both major NCAA Division II football polls.

West Virginia State returns home to host conference newcomer Seton Hill (Pa.) on Saturday.

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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