WEST LIBERTY - Concord scored two touchdowns in a 12-second span of the second quarter to break open a close game and the nationally-ranked Mountain Lion defense took care of the rest in coasting to a 20-3 victory against West Liberty in Mountain East Conference action Saturday afternoon at Russek Field.
"I think we both came in here with similar game plans and they executed theirs better than we did," Hilltopper head coach Roger Waialae said. "We didn't tackle very well in the first half and we turned the ball over too much. We need to find a way to manufacture some offense but this is a team game and our team didn't play well enough to win."
Concord (3-1 overall, 2-0 MEC) took a 6-0 lead on the strength of two long field goals - 48 and 42 yards - off the foot of sophomore kicker Andy Ellington in the first quarter but the Hilltoppers (2-2, 2-1) answered early in the second frame.
West Liberty quarterback Tyler Tucci drops back to pass during Saturday’s MEC contest against Concord at Russek Field.
Senior safety Jovontae Johnson leaped high to intercept a long Mountain Lion pass at the West Liberty 25 and scampered all the way back into Concord territory with a 33-yard return to the CU 42.
The Hilltoppers kept the drive alive with a 26-yard pass from Dylan Lagarde to Dylan Potts, converting a third-and-15 from the 47, but the march stalled inside the Concord 5 and West Liberty settled for a 21-yard Bryan Arbes field goal.
Arbes' kick cut the visitors' lead to 6-3, setting the stage for the two biggest plays of the game.
The Mountain Lions picked up two first downs to move into Hilltopper territory at the WLU 45. Tailback Calvinaugh Jones took the next handoff and shot through a gap, shaking off a pair of would-be tacklers to break into the clear for a 45-yard touchdown run - the longest play allowed all season by the West Liberty defense.
Ellington tacked on the PAT for a 13-3 Concord lead with 7:24 left in the first half.
Tyler Tucci completed 12-of-22 passes for 100 yards but the Hilltoppers were never able to threaten as Concord's defense - with a big helping foot from punter Andrew Huska - kept West Liberty bottled up in its own end of the field throughout the final two quarters.
"I thought our defensive staff made some great adjustments at halftime," Waialae said, "but offensively we just couldn't sustain our drives."