WLU Downs Fairmont on Homecoming 52-31

West Liberty against Fairmont State on Oct. 16.

It was Homecoming on the campus of West Liberty University (WLU), and the Hilltoppers took on the Fairmont State University Falcons. The Hilltoppers started slow, but were able to come out victorious after a second half comeback to win 52-31.

The Hilltoppers were without starting quarterback Jack Allison due to an undisclosed upper body injury. West Liberty rolled with redshirt freshman, Jamie Diven.

“Jamie is extremely composed,” West Liberty head coach Roger Waialae said. “I never have to tell him to calm down. He doesn’t ride that emotional roller coaster and that allows him to be successful in pressure situations.”

After a three and out by the Falcons, the Hilltoppers had a chance to strike first. After an 11 play 89-yard drive finished with an 18-yard Diven touchdown pass to Isaiah Robinson, and an Owen Rozanc extra point the Hilltoppers had a 7-0 lead. This would be the only points West Liberty would score in the first half.

Fairmont State responded with a Colin Harvath 21-yard field goal to cut into the Hilltopper lead. With 10:46 remaining in the first half, quarterback Michael Floria scores on a 41-yard draw play and a Harvath extra point to give them the lead 10-7.

With 6:44 remaining in the first half Floria was able to find receiver Shawn Harris on a 51-yard passing touchdown to extend the Falcon lead. After the extra point was good the Falcons now lead 17-7. This would be the score at halftime.

After a stalled Fairmont State drive, the Hilltoppers were able to block the Dima Amaya punt, and Jordan Wood was able to pick it up and scamper into the endzone from 15-yards out. The extra point was good by Rozanc, and the Hilltoppers cut into the Falcon lead 17-14.

West Liberty wasn’t done just yet. With 3:29 remaining in the third quarter Tyler Moler was able to cap off a four play 58-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. West Liberty regains the lead 21-17.
The Hilltopper lead was short-lived as the Falcons went to the air once again. This time Floria was able to find receiver Javon Hayes from 56-yards out to finish their three play 60-yard drive. The Harvath point after was good and Fairmont State leads again 24-21.

West Liberty was able to respond again, this time in 58 seconds. Diven rolled out to his left and was able to find junior receiver Nate Phillips on a 77-yard touchdown bomb to answer the Falcons. The extra point was good, and West Liberty led again 28-24.

The game now enters the fourth quarter and Fairmont State has the ball deep in their own territory. Floria was able to complete a pass down the field, but there was a holding penalty in the endzone. By rule the play results in a safety against the Falcons, and West Liberty now leads 30-24.

Scoring slowed down for a while until late in the fourth quarter. Floria was able to find receiver Jerimiah Taylor in the back of the endzone for a touchdown on a 17-yard score. The extra point was good, and Fairmont State took a 31-30 lead with 2:28 remaining.

On the ensuing drive, Diven came up clutch and found Robinson again on a 46-yard touchdown strike that gave the Hilltoppers the lead once again. Diven found Robinson once again on the two-point try to make the score 38-31.

After back-to-back “pick 6’s” by West Liberty’s J’Aire Pritchett and Elijah Hadley, the Hilltoppers were able to hold on to the lead and win 52-31.

The Hilltoppers are back in action next Saturday as they travel to Wheeling to take on the Cardinals at 1 p.m.