WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. A fourth-quarter fumble in Charleston territory snuffed out a potential go-ahead scoring drive for West Liberty and the Golden Eagles took advantage of that reprieve to hand the Hilltoppers a 27-14 loss Saturday afternoon at Russek Field.
After struggling on offense for much of the day, West Liberty (4-4, 3-3) cut the UC lead to 20-14 midway through the fourth quarter when Isiah Moody capped a 6-play, 74-yard march with a 16-yard touchdown run through a gaping hole in the Charleston (7-1, 4-1) line.
The WLU defense forced a 3-and-out and two Golden Eagle personal fouls on the Hilltoppers' first snap put the hosts in business at midfield. Back-to-back runs by Moody picked up 19 yards for a first down at the UC 31 but the Hilltoppers fumbled on the next play and Matt Kelly recovered for Charleston at the 21 with less than six minutes to play.
The Golden Eagles n then put the game away with a time-consuming TD drive. Quarterback John Knox scored from 22 yards out with 1:21 remaining.
The Golden Eagles were led by tailback Jordan Roberts, the leading rusher in the WVIAC who more than lived up to his billing by running for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries highlighted by an 82-yard TD run late in the third quarter that pushed Charleston's lead out to 13-0.
That long TD run seemed to loosen up what had been a tightly-played defensive struggle as the Hilltoppers needed just 90 seconds to answer with their own touchdown.
The play started out looking like a huge break for Charleston as Hilltopper freshman QB Dylan Lagarde's pass for Darrell Stanley was intercepted by UC defensive back Darrell Okokhere near midfield. Stanley didn't give up on the play, however, and poked the ball out of Okokhere's hands as he turned upfield on the return.
A hustling Moody, who had raced upfield to make the tackle, scooped up the bouncing ball in stride at the 50 and raced untouched into the end zone for the score, cutting the lead to 13-7 at 4:13 of the third quarter.
Roberts' 7-yard TD run made it 20-7 early in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for the final few minutes.Lagarde completed 10-of-25 passes for 97 yards with 2 interceptions.
and Moody finished with 95 rushing yards on 20 carries as West Liberty finished the day with just 176 yards of total offense. Charleston piled up 286 yards on the ground while Knox and fellow QB Maurice Leak combined to complete 16-of-24 passes for 151 more through the air.