CHARLESTON True freshman quarterback Dylan Lagarde threw for 302 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first collegiate start as West Liberty crashed West Virginia State's Homecoming party at Lakin Field with an impressive 52-19 romp.
Tailback Kenjay Trueblood had his first 100-yard rushing game and Coach Roger Waialae's Hilltoppers (3-3, 2-2) returned two interceptions for scores in beating the Yellowjackets (2-4, 1-3) for the fourth straight year.
West Liberty never trailed as Lagarde fired a 10-yard TD pass to Anthony Armstead to cap a 78-yard, 14-play march on the Hilltoppers' opening possession.
After State's Aubura Taylor had cut the lead to 7-6 with a 3-yard scoring burst, Lagarde converted a 4th-and-12 snap with a 24-yard scoring strike to Darrell Stanley for a 14-6 West Liberty lead after one quarter.
Momentum swung decisively to the Hilltoppers near the end of the half when the WLU offense executed the 2-minute drill to near-perfection, driving from its own 6 to the Yellowjacket 5 in the final 2:02 to set up a 23-yard Josh Wilson field goal for a 17-6 halftime lead.
With West Liberty's three-headed tailback monster of Trueblood, Isiah Moody and Dirone McBride ripping off sizable chunks of yardage on the ground, the visitors wasted little time putting the game out of reach when play resumed.
A 40-yard TD bomb from Lagarde to Brandon Schroeder finished off a 98-yard, 7-play touchdown drive at 10:13 of the third quarter and cornerback Rod White who had seen his 65-yard scoring runback of a blocked field goal wiped out by a penalty in the second quarter made it back to the end zone after picking off a Ricky Phillips pass and returning it 32 yards to paydirt.
White's interception return pushed the West Liberty lead to 31-6 with 9:12 still to play in the third quarter and the Hilltoppers were on their way.
State got another touchdown run from Taylor in the third quarter and a TD toss from Phillips to Josh Johnson in the fourth quarter but had no answer for the resurgent West Liberty offense.
Lagarde added two more touchdown passes a 5-yarder to Vinnie Candelore and a 30-yarder to Tristen Devers in the fourth quarter and sophomore linebacker Mike Jefferson concluded the scoring with a 32-yard interception return midway through the final stanza.
Lagarde completed 25-of-42 passes for 302 yards and 5 touchdowns with just one interception. His completions were split among 12 different receivers with Schroeder's 6 catches for 84 yards leading the way. Trueblood ran for 104 yards on 18 carries while Moody and McBride combined for 83 more yards on 19 attempts as West Liberty compiled a season-high 502 yards of total offense.
Taylor rushed for 101 yards and 2 TDs to lead the State attack. Phillips completed 20-of-41 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
The Hilltoppers return home to host Shepherd on Saturday in the annual Homecoming Game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
at Russek Field.