The West Liberty University football team notched its first shutout since 2008 here Saturday
afternoon, remaining unbeaten in Mountain East Conference play with a
9-0 whitewash of West Virginia State at muddy Lakin Field.
Arbes banged home three first-half field goals and the Hilltoppers
(2-1, 2-0) used a swarming defensive effort to hold the Yellow Jackets
(0-3, 0-2) to just 6 first downs and 142 yards of total offense in a
conditions deteriorated rapidly as the game went on due to the rain,
heavy at times, which had soaked the Charleston area throughout the
morning and continued for much of the day.
Liberty struck first when QB Dylan Lagarde rolled left and lobbed a
45-yard bomb to Javon Murphy on the game’s very first play from
scrimmage, giving the Hilltoppers a first down at the State 25. West
Liberty picked up another first down but missed an open Dylan Potts over
the middle for a would-be touchdown before settling for a 29-yard field
goal by Arbes with 12:07 on the clock.
teams, a strength for the Hilltoppers all season, set up West Liberty’s
next score when State’s Romell Haley muffed a punt by Griffin Yocum and
a hustling Kane Boroski recovered for WLU at the West Virginia State
Trueblood made it first-and-goal at the 5 with a twisting 11-yard run
on second-and-5 from the 16 but the WVSU defense came up with a goal
line stand to force a 19-yard field goal by Arbes for a 6-0 West Liberty
lead at 11:40 of the second quarter.
an interception by William Merritt at the State 40, the Yellow Jackets
“marched” 26 yards in 10 plays before turning the ball over on downs at
the WLU 34. It was their longest drive of the day.
The Hilltoppers took over with just 1:21 left in the half and moved smartly down the field with Lagarde looking very comfortable in the 2-minute offense.
clutch 15-yard completion to Daree Goodwin on fourth-and-12 from the
State 40 put West Liberty in scoring position at the 25 with just 7
seconds remaining. Lagarde was sacked on the next play as time expired
but a facemask penalty negated the sack, giving WLU another first down
at the State 13.
came on for his third field goal of the half, a 30-yarder, and the
Hilltoppers danced through the raindrops into the locker room with a 9-0
Virginia State’s best chance to get back into the game came early in
the third quarter when West Liberty turned the ball over on each of its
first two possessions. Each time, however, the Hilltopper defense came
interception by Haley gave State the ball at the WLU 45 but a penalty, a
sack and two incompletions forced the hosts to punt the ball away from
their own 48.
later, Trueblood and Lagarde failed to connect on a handoff and the
Yellow Jackets recovered at the West Liberty 20. Le'Floyd Phillips broke
off an 11-yard run to the WLU 9 but two running plays netted just one
more yard and senior CB Rod White – the reigning MEC Defensive Player of
the Week – intercepted Tyler Seals' third-down pass in the end zone to
end the threat.
Virginia State never entered West Liberty territory again with Coach
Roger Waialae turning more and more to his running game to chew up the
clock and salt away the Hilltoppers' first shutout since a 46-0 rout of
W.Va. Wesleyan on Sept. 27, 2008.
Liberty ran the ball 53 times for 150 yards while Lagarde completed
17-of-35 passes for 168 more. True freshman Marty Bishop banged his way
for 91 yards on 25 carries to lead all rushers while Potts was the
game's leading receiver with 7 catches for 68 yards. The Hilltoppers
dominated time of possession, 35:22 to 24:38, and had a season-high 21
completed just 6-of-14 passes for 35 yards – the lowest total by a
Hilltopper opponent since the turn of the century. The Yellow Jackets
ran for 107 yards on 38 carries with Phillips picking up 66 yards on 15
attempts to lead the way.
West Liberty returns home to host Concord on Saturday in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Russek Field.