Alex Proger–Contributing Writer
The West Liberty University Hilltoppers traveled to Shepherdstown this past Saturday and came away with a pivotal dramatic come from behind 31-30 win over the Shepherd Rams at a very cold and wet Rams Stadium.
The Toppers would get on the board early on as Mike Blewett capped off a six play drive with a 23 yard field goal to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead with 10:43 remaining in the first quarter and that is all the scoring in the opening frame as the first quarter would end with the Toppers ahead 3-0.
Early on in the second, the Rams would finally put a dent in the home side of the scoreboard as Nasser Muhammad would cap off a 3 play 60 yard drive after hauling in a 26 yard Kevin Clancy pass and the Eric Dobratz extra point would make it 7-3 Rams with 13:23 remaining in the opening half.
After stopping the Toppers on defense the Rams would punch it in again as Neal Hardie brought in a 33 yard Clancy pass and the Dobratz extra point would make it 14-3 Rams with 7:25 remaining in the second frame.
Things would go from bad to worse for West Liberty as Shepherd would force the Toppers into a punting situation at their own nine but Mike Blewett was unable to get the punt off and was tackled in his own endzone for the Ram safety and a 16-3 contest with 5:19 remaining before the half.
West Liberty would get things going before the break however as Kevon Calhoun would run into the endzone from 23 yards out and the Mike Blewett extra marker would have the Hilltoppers trailing by six, 16-10 at the break.
In the third quarter, it would be more of the Rams early as Tommy Addison capped off a nine play drive and the Dobratz extra point would make it 23-10 Shepherd with 8:58 remaining in the third.
The Toppers would get back on the board two drives later as Calhoun would get his second touchdown of the afternoon, this time from 25 yards out and the Blewett point would make it 23-17 Rams with 3:04 remaining in the third.
The Toppers would take another sucker punch to the gut as on the ensuing kickoff the Ram’s Deante Steele would take it 86 yards all the way into the endzone and the extra point would make it 30-17 hosts and that is how the third quarter would end.
The Toppers would cap the ensuing drive off 19 seconds into the fourth as Kashif Walls would haul in a 32 yard Zach Amedro pass for the touchdown and the Blewett extra point would make it 30-24 Rams with 14:41 remaining in the contest.
The cold, wet weather would play a major role in the game midway through the fourth frame as Shepherd’s Matt Martin would get off a punt of just 16 yards and the Toppers would have the football in beautiful territory at the Ram 29.
The Toppers would take full advantage as Ryan Travis would cap off a 6 play scoring drive with a six yard pass from Amedro for the touchdown and the extra point would give us our final score of 31-30 Toppers as Clay Beeler would seal the deal by intercepting a Clancy pass with just 1:08 remaining and the visitors kneeled out the clock from there.
The Toppers win combined with a Charleston 34-7 win over the North Greenville Crusaders will set up a huge contest this Saturday at Charleston’s Laidley Field with both teams unbeaten in the West Virginia Conference.
Kickoff is set for 2:00 PM and the winner will control their own destiny with not only a WVIAC championship, but also a birth in the Division II playoffs as well.
The Toppers will return to Russek Field on Halloween to do battle with the Seton Hill Griffins.
The last game of the regular season game will be on November 7 against Concord. Kickoff for both games is set for 1 p.m.
*Picture courtesy of hilltopppersports.com