WVC football: Yellow Jackets have chance at redemption
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia State football team took a step forward when it won at Seton Hill for the first time.
The Yellow Jackets took two backward with a deflating 52-19 defeat in a homecoming game last Saturday to West Virginia Conference foe West Liberty at Lakin Field.
Saturday's 1 p.m. visit to Glenville State (2-4, 2-1 WVC) on Saturday provides State (2-4, 1-2) with an opportunity for redemption.
The loss to West Liberty marked only the second-most points State has given up this season, but it also was the end of some solid defensive play against conference opponents.
"The guys are trying," said State Coach Earl Monroe, whose team had given up 36 points combined in a seven-point loss to Concord and the eight-point victory over the Griffins. "(Against West Liberty) I just thought they got a little down and disappointed. I was hoping that kind of crowd would light a fire under them. I saw them get deflated and I haven't seen that this year."
The Yellow Jackets offense has struggled to maintain consistency. After scoring 34 points in a season-opening victory against Johnson C. Smith, State has not scored more than three touchdowns in a game.
State has averaged just 2.4 yards per carry, and senior transfer Aubura Taylor needed a 20 carry, 101-yard performance against West Liberty to get his average to 3.1.
Quarterback Ricky Phillips didn't practice last week because of an injury against Seton Hill and has thrown for more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (7).
Among the bright spots is the receiving corps, led by three receivers with at least 17 catches. Josh Johnson (25 receptions, 302 yards, 1 TD), Ervin Kent (21-328-3) and Shanin Bennefie (17-236-1) have five of Phillips' seven TD passes.
Stopping the Glenville State running game will be the bigger issue for State.
The Pioneers average 4.3 yards per carry behind team leader Rahmann Lee, who has 649 yards on 102 carries and three scores. Quarterback Darold Hughes has thrown 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Glenville State's offensive blocking schemes are similar to West Liberty's which could spell trouble for the Yellow Jackets if Monroe - who is the defensive coordinator - does shore up the defense.
"We simplified the defense and made some sight adjustments," Monroe said. "There are formation adjustments, checks and calls they have to be able to make."
After a visit to Glenville, State returns to Lakin Field on Oct. 20 for a date with Shepherd (5-1, 4-0 WVC).
"We have some really tough teams coming up," said Monroe, whose Yellow Jackets host West Virginia Wesleyan on Oct. 27 after games with Glenville and Shepherd.
"On the road in this conference is tough anyway, especially with what we call the up-and-back games. You get up at 6:30 in the morning, load the bus, stop halfway to eat, get back on the bus, get dressed in a 10 by 10 lockerroom and go out and try to win a football game."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.