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West Liberty can’t keep up with Notre Dame College

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – Notre Dame (Ohio) flexed its nationally-ranked muscles here Saturday, forcing West Liberty into five turnovers and getting a monster game from quarterback Chris Brimm in a 51-10 Mountain East Conference win at West Family Stadium.

Brimm completed 21-of-35 passes for 449 yards and 5 TDs – three of them covering 70 yards or more – and the No. 8-ranked Falcons (3-0, 2-0) led wire to wire in cruising to their 25th victory in their last 26 MEC games.

Big plays and turnovers were the story of the day for a Notre Dame team that entered the contest leading the nation in turnovers forced and turnover margin. The Falcons picked off three Hilltopper (1-2, 1-1) passes and recovered two fumbles. Two of the interceptions and both fumbles snuffed out West Liberty drives inside the Notre Dame 25.

“It’s pretty simple,” head coach Roger Waialae said. “We have to take care of the football and our playmakers have to make plays. We played in spurts. We gave ourselves multiple opportunities but didn’t do anything with them. You can’t play in spurts and beat a really good football team.”

Brimm and senior WR Devanaire Conliffe got the visitors off to a flying start with an 84-yard touchdown pass on their first possession but West Liberty took the ensuing kickoff and marched deep into Notre Dame territory. The Falcon secondary slammed the door with Antoine Holloway intercepting a Jamie Diven pass in the end zone to end the threat.

Three snaps later, Trevor Hoosier stripped the ball away from Brimm and recovered at the Falcon 23, setting up a 31-yard Owen Rozanc field goal that cut the lead to 6-3 at 3:54 of the opening quarter.

But on first-and-10 from the Notre Dame 30, Brimm found Conliffe over the middle and the speedy wideout spun back to the right sideline and outraced the secondary for a 70-yard touchdown and a 13-3 Falcon lead.

“We have to have a better response when we’re challenged,” Waialae said. “Number Two (Conliffe) made two big plays and some of our guys put their heads down like ‘here we go again.’ We have to get away from that. Really good football teams have really good players who are going to make really good plays – but so do we. It’s my job to get them to believe in that, to believe in themselves.”

The floodgates opened in the second quarter as the visitors tacked on three more touchdowns to open up a 34-3 lead at the break.

West Liberty forced another Falcon fumble on the first snap of the third quarter and a 27-yard Tyler Moler scamper set up a 16-yard TD pass from Diven to Robinson, who made a circus catch in the back of the end zone as a penalty flag flew for defensive pass interference.

That trimmed the deficit to 34-10 but it was too little, too late for the hosts. Brimm tacked on scoring tosses of 29 yards to Conliffe and a 78-yarder to Jeremy Hamilton before Tanner Harding booted a 19-yard field goal to conclude the scoring with less than three minutes to play.

Conliffe finished with 4 catches for 194 yards and 3 TDs while Hamilton added 123 yards on 4 receptions. Tyris Dickerson and Idris Lawrence combined for 165 rushing yards and two scores out of the tailback position as the Falcons rolled up 687 yards of total offense.

Diven, making his second consecutive start, completed 16-of-31 passes for 154 yards and a TD while Moler posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game with 104 yards on 19 carries. Robinson had exactly 100 receiving yards on 8 catches to go along with 132 yards on 5 kickoff returns.

GAME NOTES

• Dozens of alumni from West Liberty’s back-to-back NAIA national semifinal teams of the early 1970s were on hand to honor the memory of their Hall of Fame head coach in festivities surrounding the Coach Bob Roe Memorial Game

• A moment of silence was observed prior to the game in memory of Coach Roe and the former players and football personnel from that era (1965-73) who are no longer with us

•The returning football alumni were recognized by the crowd between the first and second quarters. They closed out their weekend on Saturday night with a get-together at the West Sports Bar

X Since notching back-to-back home wins against Concord and Glenville State midway through the 2019 season, West Liberty has lost five straight games at West Family Stadium

X The Hilltoppers have posted a 5-2 record on the road during that span

X West Liberty travels to Buckhannon, W.Va. next week to take on West Virginia Wesleyan. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Cebe Ross Field.

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