WEST LIBERTY – It has become a reoccurring theme for the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats this year. Close but not quite.
After a dominating first half in which they led West Liberty by a 17-0 score, Wesleyan had no answer for the Hilltoppers in the second half as they dropped a 28-24 decision in the waning moments of the game.
A lightening delay pushed back the start time 30 minutes of the Mountain East Conference contest tonight at West Family Stadium.
Wesleyan put together a 97-yard drive midway through the first quarter for their first score.
The drive took 13 plays and took 4:50 off the clock as it ended on a Michael Anderson 11-yard touchdown run.
Tyler Fischer's point-after kick was good as Wesleyan took a 7-0 lead.
Wesleyan added to their lead early in the second quarter when Marcus Smith (pictured) returned a punt 54 yards to paydirt.
Smith took the punt down the right sideline and evaded several tacklers as they grabbed his jersey but couldn't hold on as Wesleyan increased their lead to 13-0.
Fischer was again good on this point-after-kick to up the Bobcat lead to 14-0.
West Liberty threatened late in the second quarter but Wesleyan's Jabari Weems came up with another interception as he picked off a Dakota Conwell pass in the Bobcat end zone. It was the fourth interception for Weems on the season and his third in the end zone.
Wesleyan took over possession and went 63 yards all the way down to the Hilltopper 17-yard line.
That set up a 34-yard field goal for Fischer who nailed it with the rain pouring down with 25 seconds remaining in the half.
Wesleyan took that 17-0 advantage into the half.
A Bobcat turnover in their own end set up West Liberty's first score.
West Liberty took the ball over at Wesleyan 21 and scored five plays later as Conwell found Tyler Peterson on a six-yard screen pass with 7:14 left on the third-quarter clock.
Christian Morris made the point-after-kick to make it a 17-7 game.
Wesleyan had to punt the ball away on their next possession and West Liberty found the end zone again as it took them just two plays to go 63 yards as Tyriq Dorsett went up the middle and broke a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage and went 57 yards for the score.
Morris was true on his point-after-kick as that made it a 17-14 contest with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
Anderson scored on a 58-yard run late in the third quarter, but an illegal block by Wesleyan negated the touchdown.
Wesleyan eventually had to punt the ball away on the first play of the fourth quarter.
On their next possession, West Liberty went over top the Wesleyan defense with a 55-yard scoring pass from Conwell to Dan Monteroso as the Hilltoppers took their first lead with 12:14 remaining in the game.
Morris' kick was good as West Liberty took a 21-17 lead.
That lead was short lived as Wesleyan scored on their second play of their next drive as Anderson managed to get to the outside corner and raced down the right sideline for a 70-yard scoring scamper.
Fischer was good on his kick as Wesleyan recaptured the lead, at 24-21, with 11:44 remaining the game.
Another Wesleyan turnover gave West Liberty the ball at midfield, but the Bobcat defense came up big.
With West Liberty facing a third-and-one at the Bobcat two-yard line, the defense stuffed Conwell on a quarterback keeper for no gain.
West Liberty elected to kick a field goal instead of going for it from the two-yard line, but a bad snap on the attempt thwarted the kick as Wesleyan took over at their own 17-yard line with 4:30 left on the fourth-quarter clock.
Wesleyan went three-and-out and gave the ball back to West Liberty at their own 45 yard-line with 2:55 remaining.
West Liberty marched the 65 yards for their game-winning score.
Conwell hit Anton McCallum for a 13-yard pass play with 29 seconds remaining.
Morris was good with his kick as West Liberty took a 28-24 lead.
Wesleyan threw an interception on their final drive to end the contest.
Anderson had another strong game on the ground as he ran for 141 yards on 28 carries and two scores.
Wesleyan quarterback Ryan Deal ended the day completing 19 of his 39 passes for 244 yards.
Smith led the Wesleyan receivers with five catches for 60 yards.
Chad Pinson led the defense with 5.5 tackles.
The loss dropped Wesleyan to 1-4 overall and 1-4 in the MEC.
West Liberty improved to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the MEC.
Wesleyan will return to action next Saturday as they host Fairmont State on homecoming weekend.
The MEC contest will begin at 1 p.m.