West Virginia State getting closer but...
It's been the same old song for West Virginia State coach Earl Monroe and he is getting tired of the melody.
Monroe watched as his Yellow Jackets played toe-to-toe with defending West Virginia Conference champion Concord on Saturday only to see another close loss, this time a 23-16 setback.
"The kids played hard, but gosh, we keep making the same mistakes over and over,'' lamented Monroe, whose team fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the league. "It's a lack of concentration and it's getting frustrating. We had opportunities to win the game and you've got to take advantage and seal the deal.''
State drove to the Concord 28-yard line with 49 seconds left, but a personal foul penalty on the Yellow Jackets moved the ball back to the 43 and the threat died. Last year, State suffered four losses by a touchdown or less en route to a 1-9 mark.
"Too many times we've let teams off the hook,'' said Monroe, whose team snapped a six-game losing streak earlier this season.
"That's why every play is so important. You've got to pay attention to detail. We should have won that football game [against Concord]. Now, you are being congratulated for being close, but nobody wants to hear that. They're going to remember wins and losses. There's only two columns.''
Monroe said unlike most teams in the conference he doesn't have the luxury of sitting down a player after a series of mistakes.
"The problem is we just don't have the depth to just sit those folks down,'' he said. "We try to get them out of there and make them realize that they've got to concentrate every play. We just don't have that depth to get that rotation.
"We're just trying to teach them. That's what hurts so bad. Not that we're getting outplayed, it's even tougher when you're close and you look at the film and you're one step away. That's on me as the head coach and D coordinator. That's our job to make sure the guys are learning it.''
Monroe said effort hasn't been a problem.
"I think sometimes effort made up for some of the mistakes,'' he said. "Now, we've go to increase that effort and eliminate those big mistakes at key times and try to get some wins put together.''
The University of Charleston let one slip through its fingers Saturday, falling to perennial conference power Shepherd 16-10.
The Golden Eagles led 10-0 late in the first half and were driving before the Rams returned an interception for a touchdown with 31 seconds left before halftime. Also in the opening half, UC had to settle for a field goal after a first-and-goal.
"We didn't get it done and had numerous opportunities, especially in the first half and didn't take advantage of it,'' said UC coach Pat Kirkland, whose team saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end and dropped to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the WVC.
"When you play a good football team, you're not giving yourself a chance. I think we can be a good football team. I feel good about our program. I want to be 4-0 right now, but we gave great effort. We just didn't execute in key situations and that's something we have to get better at.''
UC starting quarterback Maurice Leak returned last week from a high ankle sprain, but completed just 13 of 33 passes. Kirkland said Leak, who only participated in 35 of UC's 65 plays against the Rams, is still day-to-day.
Golden Eagles All-America running back Jordan Roberts, who needs 102 yards to set the school record for career rushing yards, is nearing 100 percent after a bout with flu-like symptoms.
The big game of the week in the WVC features Concord at Shepherd at noon Saturday. The matchup pits the last two league champions - the Mountain Lions last year and the Rams two seasons ago. ...Shepherd received 11 votes in Monday's American Football Coaches Association top 25 poll. ...State has lost 20 straight on the road. The Yellow Jackets' last victory away from home was a 24-21 win over UC on Sept. 20, 2008. ...West Virginia Wesleyan ended its five-game losing streak last week with a 41-14 win over Seton Hill.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.