FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The West Liberty University football team won a thrilling overtime game 27-24 over Fairmont State tonight at Duvall-Rosier Field.

After a 0-0 score at the break, the Hilltoppers (4-3, 3-3) came out and scored 21 straight points in the third quarter to take a commanding lead. The Fighting Falcons (3-4, 3-3) lived up to their nickname as they answered with 21 points of their own in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.

West Liberty’s defense was on the field first after winning the toss and they held Fairmont State to a 27 yard field goal. On the Hilltoppers fourth play from the four yard line, Quincy Wimbish Jr. ran in the game winning score off an option from Rudy Garcia. A Garcia to Chris Charles connection for 12 yards moved the sticks and set up the game-winning score.

The Hilltopper defensive unit was able to come up big in the most important moments time and time again throughout the game. West Liberty stopped Fairmont on three of their seven red zone trips and forced four turnovers.

Near the four minute mark of the second quarter came the first big stop of the night. Fairmont State drove all the way to the one-yard line where they had first-and-goal. After a pair of penalties, the Falcons had 3rd down at the four-yard line. Taison Fa’Asuamanu and Sam Cirksena tag teamed a sack and Delano Marcelus broke through to block the ensuing field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.

Out of halftime, Fairmont State drove all the way down to the two-yard line looking for the game’s first score. The Falcon quarterback lost control of the ball on a sneak attempt and J’Aire Pritchett picked it up and set the Hilltoppers up for the first score of the game 75 yards the other direction in a quick change of events.

Garcia ran his first of two rushing touchdowns putting the Black and Gold on the board first (7-0) after a pass interference set the ‘Toppers up at the two-yard line. 

The next drive, Cam Rice got to the quarterback for his second strip sack in as many weeks and Zach Dixon turned in a scoop and score.

West Liberty recovered an onside kick the next drive and after what was thought to be a three and out, Fairmont State muffed the punt at its own 10 yard line to set the Hilltoppers up for their third score of the quarter. Garcia cashed in on a quarterback keeper from 11 yards out for the touchdown.

The Fighting Falcons scored 14 points in the final five minutes to send it to overtime, including a 7-play, 67-yard touchdown drive that ended with 38 seconds on the clock.

Fairmont State outgained WLU 516-225 in total offense, but the key turnovers and a 3-for-3 effort in the red zone for West Liberty persevered. 

Shon Stephens and Shyoun Petteway each snagged an interception for the Black and Gold, bringing Stepehens’ national lead to eight on the year.

Petteway and Zach Dixon reached double digit tackles with 11 and 10 respectively, while Cam Rice had four tackles for loss and two sacks for West Liberty.

Garcia ended the night 16-of-32 for 147 yards and committed two interceptions. He led the team in rushing with 43 yards and two scores. Rashawn Harvey and Chris Charles caught five passes apiece, Harvey totaled 76 receiving yards and Charles 45.

West Liberty hosts Wheeling for Homecoming next Saturday (Oct. 22) at West Family Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm.