Hilltoppers beat Pioneers 20-19 on Hall of Fame Day

Isaiah Robinson breaks a tackle in the Hilltoppers win against Glenville State.

The West Liberty Hilltoppers were looking to make it two straight victories as they took on conference foe Glenville State College (1-3). The crowd at West Family Stadium saw the Hilltoppers down the Pioneers 20-19 on Hall of Fame Day.

“Forcing [Glenville] to settle for field goals in the third quarter was huge.” said West Liberty head coach Roger Waialae on his defense’s performance.

The game started with the Hilltoppers getting the ball, but that was short lived. The Pioneer defense forced a three and out, forcing West Liberty to punt.

The Pioneers were up next, and they found success. A seven play 53-yard drive resulted in a Josh Jones 24-yard field goal to start the scoring. The Pioneers got into field goal range on a double reverse pass from senior receiver Javon Butler finding fellow senior receiver Kyree Wallace on a 41-yard pitch and catch. 3-0 Pioneers 13:47 left in the quarter.

The Hilltoppers were able to respond with a scoring drive of their own. Tyler Moler punches it in from three yards out to cap off the seven play 65-yard drive. The Owen Rozanc extra point was good. West Liberty led 7-3 with 8:39 remaining in the first.

West Liberty doesn’t stop there. The defense forces an interception on the first play of the ensuing drive. DeAndr Clayton was trying to find his receiver and his pass was picked off by Hilltopper defensive back Elijah Hadley.

The Toppers pay off the turnover quickly. In just two plays, West Liberty quarterback Jack Allison found Wisdom Jenkins in the endzone of a 15-yard touchdown connection. Rozanc’s kick was good, and the Hilltoppers extended their lead to 14-3. This would be the score at the end of the first quarter.

West Liberty was not done yet. Moler finds paydirt yet again. This time on a six-yard touchdown scamper that finished off an eight play 77-yard drive. Rozanc’s extra point was blocked, and the score was 20-3 with 13:06 remaining in the first half. This would be the last time the Hilltoppers score in the game.

Glenville then came back with a response. The Pioneers had a 16 play 73-yard drive to get their first touchdown of the day. Freshman running back, Alfred Menjor, pounded it in from two yards out to cut into the lead. Jones’s extra point was good, and the score was 20-10 heading into halftime.

To start the second half, the Pioneers drove all the way inside of the redzone, but the West Liberty defense held them to a field goal. Josh Jones knocks through a 23-yard field goal cutting into the topper lead. 20-13 Hilltoppers with 11:50 remaining in the third quarter.

Glenville’s forces an Allison interception, and the Pioneers are in prime position. The Pioneers get inside of the red zone again but can’t get the touchdown. Jones knocks in another field goal, this time from 22-yards out. West Liberty still led by a narrow 20-16 score with 7:15 remaining in the third.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Glenville added another field goal by Jones. This one being from 43-yards out. Pioneers cut the West Liberty lead to one at the end of the quarter.

There would be no more scoring in the rest of this one. Late in the fourth quarter, Hadley picked off another Glenville pass in what looked to potentially ice the game; however, the Hilltoppers were unable to run out the clock. On fourth and six within field goal range the Toppers went for it. Allison tries to find Isaiah Robinson, but the pass was intercepted. The Pioneers had 1:29 seconds to possibly win the game, but the Hilltopper defense came up strong again. They forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Jack Davis and West Liberty would run out the clock and hold off the Glenville comeback.

The Hilltoppers play next Saturday at noon in Athens, as they take on the Concord Mountain Lions (1-3).