CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After sailing through its neighboring rival West Virginia State 31-9 on Saturday, Charleston finds itself in a three-team jumbled mess of a second-place tie in the Mountain East Conference, one game behind undefeated Shepherd.The Golden Eagles (4-3 overall, 4-1 MEC), Urbana (5-2, 5-1) and Concord (5-2, 4-1) all need some help but are still clinging to conference title hopes.That muddled second-place picture will become a little clearer this week when Charleston hosts the Mountain Lions in a pivotal matchup with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. at UC Stadium.Having already dropped a 28-9 decision to Shepherd, the Eagles can nary afford another loss. The Mountain Lions' season could very well rest on Saturday's game considering Concord's one league blemish came in a 22-10 defeat to fellow second-place team Urbana on Oct. 12.
Urbana, meanwhile, fell to Shepherd in a close 28-21 game on Sept. 21 but has since reeled off four conference wins in a row.If all hold serve, it would set up a very interesting final Saturday as Charleston will travel to Urbana and Shepherd will travel to Concord.The Mountain Lions (172.6 rushing yards per game) and the Golden Eagles (169.7 per game) bring with them the No. 2 and No. 3 ground attacks in the league, and Concord racked up over 400 yards on the ground in a 49-21 win Saturday over West Virginia Wesleyan.Meanwhile, Shepherd (7-0, 6-0) is off this week.nn
UC quarterback Maurice Leak was named the conference's offensive player of the week on Monday.Leak threw for a career-best four touchdown passes and went 20 for 28 for 221 yards in the Golden Eagles' win over State.Shepherd linebacker De'Ontre Johnson was named the defensive player of the week and the Rams' C.J. Davis was honored as the special teams player of the week after the Rams' 57-17 dismantling of Notre Dame.Johnson made 11 tackles, including eight of the solo variety, while Davis had 249 return yards and a touchdown, including four punt returns for 136 yards and two kickoff returns for 113.Shepherd limited Notre Dame to just 61 rushing yards and hasn't allowed more than 100 in a game all season.nn
As inevitable as a sorting out of the top of the league is, so is a matchup between the bottom two teams in the league that will guarantee either West Virginia State (0-7, 0-6) or Virginia-Wise (0-7, 0-5) its first win of the season. The two will face off in Wise, Va., at 1 p.m. Saturday with a chance for both teams to crawl out of the Mountain East cellar.So far this season, the Yellow Jackets have been outscored 239-56 in their six league games while the Cavaliers have been outscored 225-81 in five conference tilts.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.