WLU Football falls to UNC Pembroke 27-17

The West Liberty football team (4-4) took on the Braves of UNC Pembroke (5-2) this past Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The Hilltoppers were looking to bounce back after an overtime loss to Route 88 rival Wheeling University last game. The Hilltoppers were also looking to get back to above .500 on the season as well. UNC Pembroke traveled up to the campus of West Liberty and was able to pick up the victory 27-17.

“That’s a very talented football team,” West Liberty coach Roger Waialae said: “I thought we played pretty well defensively. We had good pressure on their quarterback most of the day. We got to him a few times, but he got away a couple of times and hurt us making big plays over the top off the scramble.”

The cold and rainy West Family Stadium saw the offenses get off to a slow start. Both teams traded punts on the first couple of drives.

The Braves were able to strike first late in the first quarter. The reigning Mountain East Conference defensive player of the week gets the job done on offense. Devin Jones was able to haul in a pass from red-shirt junior quarterback Josh Jones and run into the endzone capping off the 57-yard score. After the extra point was good, the Braves led 7-0. That would be the score at the end of the first quarter.

Pembroke had a couple of field goal chances to extend their lead, but they were no good. The Hilltoppers were finally able to get on the board. Following a fourth-down stop, the Hilltoppers were in prime scoring position. Unable to punch it into the endzone, West Liberty settled with a 20-yard Owen Rozanc field goal. The score being 7-3 in favor of the Braves.

The Braves were able to respond quickly. The two play 72-yard drive ended on a 50-yard touchdown strike from Josh Jones to Trey Dixon. The extra point was good and the lead for Pembroke was extended to 14-3.

Towards the end of the first half, The Braves were driving again. This until a fumble by the Braves is picked by Devon McNutt and he is able to rumble into the endzone finishing over the 53-yard scope and score. The Rozanc extra point was good and the Hilltoppers reduced the deficit to 14-10. This would be the score at the end of the first half.

The second half started like the first half, but this time with no rain. This was until the Hilltoppers forced another fumble putting them in good field position again.

The three-play 41-yard drive was capped off with an Isaiah Robinson 20-yard touchdown grab from Jamie Diven. The Rozanc extra point was right down the middle, and West Liberty took the lead 17-14. This touchdown was the only offensive touchdown of the day for the Hilltoppers.

Now in the fourth quarter, West Liberty was able to force another turnover, and it put them on the doorstep again. This time though the Brave defense stood up strong and stopped Diven on fourth down to force the turnover on downs.

The Braves took advantage of the turnover. Pembroke uses an eight play 93-yard drive to take the lead. They scored on a one-yard Joseph Early touchdown run. The extra point was good, and the score was now 21-17 in favor of UNC Pembroke.

Pembroke kept the scoring going. They tack on an Alex Alvarado 33-yard field goal from the left hash to extend their lead to 24-17.

West Liberty got the ball back with a chance to tie with under five minutes remaining, but the Hilltoppers went three and out. The Braves were almost able to run the clock out, but they were able to get a clutch 33-yard field goal by Alvarado to put the game on ice.

The final score of this game was UNC Pembroke 27 and West Liberty 17. The Hilltoppers will be back in action this Saturday at home for senior day against West Virginia State at 2 p.m.