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Hilltoppers Meeting The Challenge

October 8, 2009
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West Liberty senior cornerback Derrick Evans (12) leaps high to snag his fifth interception of the season during Saturday’s 29-17 win at Glenville State. Evans leads the nation in passes defended with 5 interceptions and 13 pass break-ups.

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Although West Liberty’s nationally-ranked offense was held to its lowest output of the season, head coach Roger Waialae believes the Hilltoppers’ 29-17 win at Glenville State on Saturday may have been their most impressive performance of the year.

      “We learned a few things about ourselves as a football team on Saturday,”  Waialae said. “First of all, we beat a very talented football team on the road in a game where we had four or five starters out with injuries.

      “Secondly, we proved we have the ability to use our offense to control the ball and grind time off the clock when that’s what we need. We’re more than just a quick-strike team.”

      Coming into Saturday’s game, West Liberty (5-1, 3-0) had beaten Glenville in Glenville only twice since the 1980s.

      Compounding the challenge was the fact that the Hilltoppers had to face the Pioneers without the services of injured wide receiver Kashif Walls, offensive lineman Will Alvarez, defensive end Scott Mirich and safety Jayson Keyser. In addition, two-time All-WVIAC linebacker Nick Harding played only a handful of snaps as he continued to recover from an emergency appendectomy.

      With the Glenville defense wary of the big play, quarterback Zach Amedro led West Liberty on several methodical scoring marches. Heavy doses of standout tailback Kevon Calhoun mixed in with a number of quick passing routes in front of the Pioneer secondary as the Hilltoppers took a 17-7 halftime lead.

      Following an exchange of field goals, Glenville brought the home fans to their feet with a long touchdown pass on the final snap of the third quarter that cut the lead to 20-17.

      West Liberty silenced the crowd on the first play of the fourth quarter when wide receiver Willie Walker hauled in an Amedro bomb and sprinted down the sideline for an 88-yard touchdown.

      The defense did its part, slamming the door on the Pioneers with an interception, a 3-and-out and a fumble on the next three possessions. After that, the offense put the game on ice by scrubbing nearly 6 minutes off the clock on a 13-play drive to set up a chip shot field goal by Mike Blewett with only 3 minutes remaining.

      Walker had a career day with 8 catches for 150 yards while Eddie Hills and Ryan Travis – who lead the WVIAC in pass receptions –  split 18 catches for a combined 168 yards.

      Amedro completed 28-of-44 passes for 364 yards – his sixth 300-yard passing game of the year – while Calhoun muscled out 97 rushing yards on a career-high 29 carries and caught two passes for 46 yards and a score.

      “We have a lot of weapons,” Waialae said. “You have to pick your poison. With guys like Eddie and Ryan working the middle of the field, Willie drew a lot of 1-on-1 coverage Saturday and Zach was able to get the ball to him. Zach’s decision-making is a big part of our offense.”

      The Hilltopper defense held Glenville to just one pass completion in the first half and kept the Pioneers at bay by forcing four clutch turnovers. Defensive end Isaac Omaits was charted with two fumble recoveries while cornerback Derrick Evans padded his WVIAC lead with his fifth interception of the season.

      “This is the third straight week that the defense has played well,”  Waialae said, “and we did it with some pretty key performers on the sideline.

      “With that many starters out, this is a game we would have lost in recent years. The fact that we were able to go down there and win really speaks well for the depth we’ve been able to develop and the ability of those kids to step up and meet the challenge.”

      The Hilltoppers host West Virginia State on Saturday in the annual Homecoming Game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Russek Field.

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