Story and photo courtesy of Concord Athletics
BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – The Concord University football team ended its 2012 season on a high note Saturday with a 23-16 victory at West Virginia Wesleyan. The win was sparked by three forced turnovers, a pair of rushing touchdowns and three successful field goal attempts.
Concord finishes the season having won three consecutive games to push its record to 7-4 overall and 6-2 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. After beginning the season 2-3, the Mountain Lions regrouped to win five of their final six games of the season to secure the program's fourth consecutive winning season. West Virginia Wesleyan falls to 3-8 overall and 2-6 in the WVIAC with the loss.
The Mountain Lions dominant defense shutdown the high-powered Wesleyan passing attack, holding Bobcat quarterback Nate Montana, who entered the game as the WVIAC's leading passer, to just 199 yards passing and forcing two interceptions.
For the game, Concord outgained Wesleyan 372-275 in total offense, 233-199 in passing yards and 139-76 in rushing yards. CU's defense ends the year having allowed just three players to rush for over 100 yards against them. The Maroon and Gray also won the time of possession battle (39:16 – 20:44).
Freshman running back Calvinaugh Jones produced one of his finest performances of the season, rushing for 138 yards on 25 carries (5.5 ypc) and one touchdown. Sophomore fullback Ben Nester also rushed for his team-leading seventh score of the season Saturday.
Senior quarterback Evin Dusold completed 20-of-35 pass attempts for 233 yards. Dusold leaves Concord with a record of 3-1 as a starting quarterback. His top target against the Bobcats was senior wide receiver Ansel Ponder, who registered team-highs of nine receptions and 106 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Tyler Smith had four catches for 72 yards, including a team-long 47-yard reception.
Interceptions by the cornerback tandem of senior Nate Pollard and junior Riyahd Richardson sparked the Concord defense to handle the vaunted Wesleyan passing attack. Pollard also blocked a field goal attempt while Richardson made two tackles for loss. Richardson's INT was his fourth in as many games and his fifth in six contests.
Junior linebacker Jake Lilly tallied his seventh double-digit tackle effort of the year with a team-best 10 tackles. Senior Howard Jordan picked up Concord's lone sack of the game, his fourth of the year.
Concord only trailed for a total of five minutes Saturday as the Bobcats scored first via a 26-yard field goal before the Mountain Lions scored on three of their next four possessions thanks to a 30-yard field goal from freshman Andy Ellington and rushing touchdowns from Jones and Nester to give Concord a commanding 17-3 advantage with 14:45 to play in the second quarter. Jones' touchdown-run came from 22-yards out.
Wesleyan was able to cut the lead to seven points (17-10) at halftime, but CU responded with a nine-play drive to start the third quarter that was finished off with a 35-yard field goal from Ellington to make it a 20-10 game. The Bobcats would once again dash the Concord-lead in half (20-16) thanks to an 11-yard touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter. However, Concord's offense added three insurance points after a 13-play drive put Ellington in position to knock down another field goal attempt from 33 yards to give the Mountain Lions a 23-16 lead with 12:04 to play in regulation.
The seven-point lead was more than enough for the Concord defense, which closed out the game by ending three consecutive Wesleyan drives on downs to help pull off the win.
The Mountain Lions end the year in a three-way tie for second place in the WVIAC.