West Liberty snapped its three-game losing streak in impressive fashion here Thursday night, reeling off 27 unanswered points and shutting out Glenville State for the entire second half in sprinting away to a 41-24 triumph under the lights at rainswept Morris Stadium.
Senior WRs Anton McCallum and Dan Monteroso each had two touchdown catches and TB Jeremiah Ortiz posted his first 100-yard rushing game of the season but it was a pair of special teams scores and an opportunistic defense that paved the way to victory for Coach Roger Waialae’s Hilltoppers (4-6, 4-5).
If West Liberty was looking for a spark as the Black and Gold headed into the second half on the short end of a 24-21 deficit, it didn’t take long to find one.
Senior DB Solomon Dixon, who had blocked a field goal attempt by the Pioneers (5-5, 5-4) on the final play of the first half, sprinted 95 yards to paydirt with the second half kickoff to give the Hilltoppers their first lead of the night.
A 54-yard run by Ortiz flipped the field later in the quarter and WLU capitalized when Monteroso pulled in a 27-yard TD pass from QB Dakota Conwell, stretching the margin to 35-24 with 3:56 left in the frame.
The Hilltopper special teams came up big again on the ensuing kickoff when Patrick Frey knocked the ball out of Glenville return man David Thomas’ hands. West Liberty’s Brandon Morrison scooped it up and sprinted 18 yards into the end zone to make it 41-24 at 3:49 of the third quarter.
The high-powered Pioneer attack had rolled up 24 points and 332 yards of total offense in the first half but was held to no points and less than 150 yards in the second half by a bend-but-don’t-break WLU defense. The Black and Gold turned the hosts away empty-handed on each of their last four red zone possessions to put the game on ice.
While defense was the story of the final two quarters, the first half numbers told a very different tale as the teams combined for a staggering 619 yards of total offense.
A significant portion of that came from McCallum as the speedy senior wide receiver had touchdown catches of 42 and 74 yards in his first action since being injured at Charleston early last month.
Glenville QB Dante Roberts fired three first-half touchdown passes – two of them to All-MEC senior WR Dante Absher – and PK Chandler Carrera booted a 41-yard field to give the Pioneers a 24-14 lead with 8:35 left in the opening half.
Dixon ran the ensuing kickoff back 50 yards to the Glenville 49 and Monteroso cashed that in by winning a jump ball for a Conwell fade in the end zone from 15 yards out, cutting the gap to 24-21 at 6:42 of the second quarter.
A pass interference call on a “Hail Mary” attempt by the Pioneers on the final play of the half set up a 45-yard field goal attempt by Chandler on an untimed down but Dixon broke through to block the kick, setting the stage for the Hilltoppers’ dominant second half performance.
Conwell had another big game under center for West Liberty. The senior QB battled through his own injury problems to pass for 226 yards and 4 TDs while adding another 46 rushing yards on 10 carries. Ortiz rambled for 153 yards on 26 carries while McCallum’s two catches accounted for a game-high 116 yards and Monteroso had 3 catches for 62 yards. Freshman DB Logan Deri had a game-high 12 tackles while fellow DB Ty Holmes added 7 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss, 3 pass break-ups and an interception.
Roberts completed 24-of-48 passes for 280 yards and 3 TDs. D.J. Williams had 7 catches for 107 yards while Absher finished with 103 yards on 7 catches. Eric Kyle led the Glenville rushing attack with 174 yards on 21 carries.
West Liberty closes out the season at home on Nov. 12 with a noon kickoff against West Virginia State.
West Liberty 41
Glenville State 24
West Liberty 7 14 20 0 – 41
Glenville State 7 17 0 0 – 24
GSC: Williams 23 pass from Roberts (Carrera kick), 13:36
WLU: McCallum 42 pass from Conwell (Morris kick), 12:35
GSC: FG Carrera 41, 14:56
GSC: Absher 38 pass from Roberts (Carrera kick), 11:43
WLU: McCallum 74 pass from Conwell (Morris kick), 11:28
GSC: Absher 8 pass from Roberts (Carrera kick), 8:35
WLU: Monteroso 15 pass from Conwell (Morris kick), 6:42
WLU: Dixon 95 kickoff return (Morris kick), 14:45
WLU: Monteroso 27 pass from Conwell (Morris kick), 3:56
WLU: Morrison 18 fumble return (run failed), 3:47
RUSHING: West Liberty 47-237; Ortiz 26-153; Conwell 10-46; Kargbo 1-20; Penick 6-16; Morris 1-5; Gamble 1-2; Team 1-(-1); Dorsett 1-(-4). Glenville State 34-199; Kyle 21-174; Walker 6-25; Garmon 1-12; Holland 1-(-1); Team 1-(-2); Roberts 3-(-3); Gibson 1-(-6)
PASSING: West Liberty 8-21-221-4td-3x (all by Conwell). Glenville State 24-49-280-3td-1x (Roberts 24-48-280-3td-1x; Garmon 0-1-0-0-0)
RECEIVING: West Liberty 8-221; McCallum 2-116; Monteroso 3-62; Kelly 2-47; Kargbo 1-(-4). Glenville State 24-280; Williams 7-107; Absher 7-103; Ratliff 5-29; Thomas 3-31; Kyle 2-10.
First downs: West Liberty 22, Glenville State 26
Fumbles: West Liberty 1-0, Glenville State 3-3
Penalties: West Liberty 10-92, Glenville State 10-112
Time of Possession: West Liberty 31:34, Glenville State 28:26