FAIRMONT — Austin Hensley and West Virginia State worked a little more road magic Saturday, scoring with 15 seconds remaining to capture a 42-38 Mountain East Conference comeback victory over Fairmont State at Duvall-Rosier Field.
Hensley found former Hurricane teammate Zach Pate with a 13-yard touchdown pass for the winning points, capping an 87-yard drive for the Yellow Jackets (5-1, 5-0 MEC), who trailed 38-35 after Fairmont’s Tyree Randolph returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter.
The wild game featured four lead changes in the final 4 minutes, 12 seconds, and the Jackets rallied from a deficit that twice reached 17 points in the first half. It marked the first victory for West Virginia State against the Falcons since 2015, and gave Hensley another late TD toss for a road win. In the season opener, he found Isiah Scott with an 11-yard scoring pass with 3:57 left to earn a 20-17 triumph at Frostburg State.
West Virginia State remained a game behind Notre Dame (6-0, 6-0) for the MEC lead. Fairmont State (1-5, 1-5), which began the season nationally ranked in NCAA Division II, dropped its fourth straight, and suffered its fourth loss of the season by a touchdown or less.
Hensley threw for six touchdowns on Saturday, completing 28 of 38 attempts for 414 yards. He was sacked just once and threw an interception. Hensley found five different receivers with scoring passes — two to A.J. Barrette (25 and 5 yards) and one each to Pate, Scott (7 yards), Tyrone Lyte (59 yards) and Dant’e Jones (27 yards).
State took its first lead of the game at 28-24 on Hensley’s 5-yard TD pass to Barrette with 8:35 left in the third quarter, but the Falcons answered with an 11-yard scoring pass from Takwan Crews-Naylor to Javon Hayes with 4:12 remaining to go up 31-28.
Hensley then led the Jackets downfield again, culminating on a 25-yard TD toss to Barrette with 1:48 to go, putting State ahead 35-31. Then came Randolph’s kickoff return for a score that handed the lead back to Fairmont at 38-35.
On what proved to be the winning drive, Hensley was at his best, going 5 of 6 passing for 75 yards. He moved the Yellow Jackets 87 yards in seven plays and State never faced a third down on the possession. Dylan Lucas, a former Buffalo standout, added a 10-yard run to the winning march and led State on the ground with 63 yards on 15 attempts.
Barrette (nine catches, 161 yards) and Lyte (five catches, 112 yards) each went over the 100-yard mark in receiving for the Jackets. Linebacker Dustin Crouser, a former George Washington star, led the State defense with 13 total tackles, 10 of them solo stops.
For hard-luck Fairmont, Crews-Naylor hit on 12 of 18 passes for 189 yards and three TDs and Hayes ended with seven catches for 122 yards and two scores. Two Falcons ball-carriers eclipsed the 100-yard barrier — Randolph (24 carries, 124 yards) and Khalik Hamlin (15 carries, 106 yards, one TD). Randolph also had a 52-yard TD catch.