WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. — West Liberty built a 24-point lead in the third quarter but had to withstand a furious rally from West Virginia Wesleyan to hold on to a 37-34 win over West Virginia Wesleyan on Thursday night at West Family Stadium.
With the game tied at 13-13, Zach Phillips led a seven-play, 51-yard scoring drive that he finished with a one-yard touchdown plunge to give West Liberty the lead just before the half. The Hilltoppers then scored a field goal and turned two WVWC turnovers into touchdowns in the third quarter to build a 37-13 lead.
Luke Casey led a pair of scoring drives to get the Bobcats back to within 10 with still 12 minutes left to play. The Bobcats had an opportunity to make it a one possession game, but a missed field goal from 35 yards with 10:36 to stalled the team’s momentum. The Bobcats gave themselves hope in the waning moments on Casey’s third touchdown pass of the day to Sterling Dewdney made it 37-34 with 1:19 to go. West Liberty recovered the ensuing onside kick and the ‘Toppers were able to kill the clock to hold on to the win.
West Liberty piled up 267 yards rushing on the night. Quarterback Zach Phillips led the way with 126 yards and two touchdowns, and also had 49 yards passing and another TD. Charles Westbrook carried the ball a game-high 30 times for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Logan Deri led the WLU defense with six tackles, including three for a loss that pushed WVWC back 20 yards. Cliff Clark also had six tackles and Joshua Ojo had an interception return for a touchdown.
Casey finished the game 16-for-31 for 234 yards and three touchdowns with one pick. Devin Montgomery had 10 carries for 80 yards. Dewdney had three catches for 82 yards, and Jujuan Linzy had five grabs for 62 yards.
Zechariah Johnson recovered a fumble and returned for a TD for the Bobcats. Trey Lee had a team-high eight tackles.