In a season-ending battle of neighboring rivals in the Mountain East Conference, the University of Charleston Golden Eagles put together a 38-13 victory over the West Virginia State University Yellow Jackets in front of an energized crowd on Lakin-Ray Field Saturday afternoon in Institute.
The Golden Eagles (8-2) combined the running talents of senior Tyreik McCallister and the steady arm of junior quarterback Guy Myers to secure the win in the last regular-season game of a successful 2021 gridiron campaign.
“Games like this are emotional with the seniors and we tried to do a little too much in the first half but we got back to what we do, which is good team defense and getting after the quarterback. And that’s what we did in the second half,” said Golden Eagles head coach Pat Kirkland. “Defensively, we switched some things up on the front line in the second half and those guys like Christian Van Horn and the rest of those senior defensive guys were a big part of our success.”
The game’s first half was a matter of long time-consuming drives as Charleston’s opening drive started at its own 29-yard line lasting 6:40 and culminating in a 30-yard Tim McCutchen field goal. State answered with an even longer drive lasting the rest of the quarter, finished off by quarterback Donovan Riddick’s 4-yard TD rush to set the score at 6-3.
McCutchen hit his second of three field goals on the day in the next quarter, this time from 45 yards out tying the score at 6-6.
The Yellow Jackets (6-4) followed with another long drive after recovering an attempted onside kick. Dant’e Jones bulled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard score to put his team up 13-6. The Golden Eagles tied it up at 13-13 with a 5-yard McAllister run with 5:37 until the break.
State came into the game having won five of its last six games, with only a one-point loss at home against University of North Carolina Pembroke in that stretch run. Having lost to the Golden Eagles in their last three meetings, the Jackets were trying to avenge a 39-10 loss in April of the league’s virus-shortened spring season.
“You have to give UC credit. Their offense and defense are really good and you have to play at a high level,” said State coach John Pennington. “We made a couple of adjustments at halftime and we did well the first two drives but just couldn’t get moving down the field offensively.
“We did finish off our fourth consecutive winning season which hasn’t been done here in 70 or so years.”
The Yellow Jackets followed up their exciting last minute 33-28 win over West Liberty last week with a very capable offensive effort in the first half but could not gain field position or match the Golden Eagles offensively in the second half.
UC’s McCallister began heating up in the third quarter as he finished the day with 143 yards on 29 carries.
“They did some adjustments that we weren’t use to and we had to figure out what would work best for us and after that it helped us come out on top,” said McCallister, who went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season.
For the Yellow Jackets, Jones finished with 80 yards on 14 carries while Riddick added 192 passing yards on 19 of 26 completions.
The Golden Eagles’ Myers completed 13 of 17 passes for 186 yards.