WLU football falls in defeat to Walsh 27-6

The West Liberty football team lost their season opener Thursday, Sep. 2 against non-conference opponent Walsh, by 27-6 at West Family Stadium.

West Liberty had their chances in the game as the score was not reflective of how tight the matchup truly was. The Hilltoppers lost by a 21-point margin, however, they had plenty of chances. Opportunities need to be converted for any team to win games and West Liberty learned that the hard way as they were only 1-5 in the red zone with two missed field goals.

“You cannot waste opportunities if you want to be a good football team,” said the West Liberty football head coach, Roger Waialae.

Walsh jumped ahead 10-0 early in the second quarter when the Hilltoppers squandered one of their biggest opportunities. The Hilltopper offense marched all the way inside the 10-yard line, when things went south as Walsh picked off Jack Allison for a 97-yard pick-six to push the score to 17-0 in Walsh’s favor.

The Hilltoppers responded immediately by moving the ball down the field. They nearly converted another chance to draw closer to end the half. Allison found Jerome Harris in the endzone with 10 seconds remaining in the half however it was called back for holding. The field goal then sailed wide right as the Hilltoppers had nothing to show for either drive.

“Offensively we shot ourselves in the foot” said Waialae. That was the theme of the night as the Hilltoppers hope to iron out the kinks before next week’s conference matchup against Alderson Broaddus.

Down 27-0, the final drive in the fourth quarter was given to Hilltoppers redshirt freshman, Jamie Diven who led the offense 97 yards for their first score of the game. The extra point was no good but the Hilltoppers ended on a good note as they hope to carry that momentum into next week’s conference matchup.

After the game, Waialae felt his team made some uncharacteristic mistakes. “Normally you practice like you play but we didn’t play like we practiced” said Waialae.

The Hilltoppers offense struggled as they rushed for negative three yards. A week prior to the game against Walsh, the Hilltoppers lost their All-MEC starting tailback, Quincy Wimbish to a leg injury.

“Losing a back of Quincy’s caliber that late in camp is a challenge. He’s one of those rare backs that’s a total package and now you’re trying to mix and match with guys who are stronger in some areas than others. We have to figure out how we need to distribute the ball differently to accomplish what we want to accomplish. We may need to attack different areas or attack the same areas in different ways but that’s definitely one of the things we’ll be looking at going forward” said Waialae.

The Hilltoppers gained more yards than Walsh even with the struggling running game.

In the air, the Hilltoppers gained 222 yards. Leading the Hilltoppers in passing yards was Allison who completed 17 of his 34 passes for 142 yards with one interception. Diven, who came in the fourth quarter was 6 for 10 for 80 yards and a touchdown.

The Hilltoppers receiving corps were led by Isaiah Robinson who had 7 catches for 70 yards. Wisdom Jenkins was close behind with 3 catches for 51 yards. TJ Griffin had 2 catches and a TD.

The Hilltopper running game was led by Tyler Moler who rushed for 30 yards on 10 carries.

The Hilltoppers will look to bounce back next week as they travel to Philippi, W. Va. to face Alderson Broaddus on Saturday Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.