By: Christopher Streeter, VSU Sports Information
Ettrick, VA- Excitement filled the atmosphere as Virginia State University hosted their first home game of the 2012 football season against West Liberty University. Coming off of a tough 24-0 loss to Division I opponent Norfolk State University the Trojans were looking to improve on the previous week’s play.
The Trojans’ jumped on top of the Hilltoppers early in the game as defensive back Sean Smith (red-shirt junior/Atlanta, GA) killed the momentum of the Hilltoppers with an interception on the third play of the game. VSU took over in Hilltoppers territory and quickly responded with a 23 yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jarred Battle (senior/ Norfolk, VA) to true freshman wide receiver Ja’von Smallwood (freshman/ Virginia Beach, VA). On the next possession, West Liberty coughed up the football once again on a fumble forced by defensive back Darion Thomas (red-shirt freshman/ Virginia Beach, VA) as the Hilltoppers marched down to the Trojans three yard line. The Trojans and the Hilltoppers traded field positions for the remainder of the quarter with the Trojans ending the quarter with 7-0 advantage.
Possessing the momentum going into the second quarter the Trojans looked to their defense to maintain the lead. The second quarter proved to be a grudge match as both teams fought relentlessly for first downs. After an array of punts by both sides the second quarter was highlight by an 89 yard drive put together by West Liberty. This drive was capped off by a three yard run by West Liberty’s Kenjay Trueblood. The Trojans were given the ball with roughly one minute left in the half in which they decided to stay on the safe side and run-out the clock. Going into the half Virginia State and West Liberty were tied up at 7-7.
Virginia State’s wide receiver Dion Futch (junior/ Hampton, VA) opened up the second half with a huge 23 yard kickoff return hoping to spark his teammates. The VSU coaching staff decided to switch up the offense by bringing out back up quarterback LaMonta Greene (red-shirt junior/ Los Angeles, CA) in efforts of sparking some instant offense. Although this move was made in efforts to create offense, the Trojans spent the majority of this quarter playing defense. With roughly five minutes left in the third quarter the Hilltoppers were able to put together a drive ending in a 5 yard touchdown reception by West Liberty’s Brandon Schroeder. Trojans running back Lamont Britt (redshirt-freshman/ Norfolk, VA) carried the ball several times providing ball security for the Trojans for the remainder of the third quarter. The Trojans were unable to respond to West Liberty’s score and the third quarter ended with the Trojans trailing the Hilltoppers 14-7.
A sense of urgency swept through Rogers Stadium as the Trojans entered the final quarter of the game trailing. VSU’s offense showed progression and were able to conduct several decent drives, but they were not able to cash in on any of those drives until halfway through the fourth quarter. With the Hilltoppers applying defensive pressure, Green was able to hook up with Smallwood on a 19 yard touchdown reception, giving him his second touchdown catch of the game and bringing the Trojans to within a point of tying the ball game up. With the equalizer on the shoulders of the kicker, VSU’s special team was unable to convert on the extra point attempt. “That extra point really hurt us, it is clear to see the impact special teams has on the outcome of a football game. This is a game we should not have lost,” stated head football coach Andrew Faison.
The Trojans were able to come up with one last defensive stand to get the ball back with a little over two minutes left in the game. The last ditch effort of the Trojan offense was in vain as they were unable to capitalize on the West Liberty turnover on downs. Virginia State suffered their first home loss since the 2010 season. The final score at Rogers Stadium displayed West Liberty University 14, Virginia State 13.
VSU will look for their first win of the 2012 season in their next game, traveling to Columbia, SC to take on Benedict College in the 2012 Palmetto City Capital Classic on September 15 at 4 p.m.