After posting a dominant 45-0 win over Glenville State last week, the University of Charleston’s football team looks to continue its good start to the 2021 season with a home matchup against undefeated UNC Pembroke at noon Saturday.
Last week’s win was a long time coming after a hiatus of around 500 days for the Golden Eagles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UC head coach Pat Kirkland talked about how his team performed after the long layoff.
“I knew we’d play with energy and a lot of passion,” he said. “I was pleased with the execution. Just getting out there was just thrilling and almost therapeutic for these guys and myself, just being able to coach after that long of a break.”
In their first game of this six-game spring season, the Golden Eagles (1-0) accumulated 424 total yards and held the Pioneers to just 67. Kirkland said he hopes his team can build off the win going into this weekend’s matchup against UNC Pembroke (2-0).
“Offensively we played well, I still want to see us get better in the run game and execute a little bit more,” he said. “We also had a few dropped passes that could have been big plays for us. Overall I was excited about the way the players handled the situation.”
Mistakes such as dropped passes could be costly against Pembroke. In their two wins this season, against Glenville State and West Virginia State, the Braves gained 759 total yards while allowing 360.
In Pembroke’s 30-7 win over Glenville State, quarterback Josh Jones was 26 of 32 passing for 350 yards and four touchdowns. Then, in a 48-21 win over WVSU, he was 23 of 29 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Kirkland talked about the threat that the Braves pose on both sides of the ball.
“When I look at this team, Pembroke, they’re so old, they have so many seniors and juniors playing for them,” Kirkland said. They’re [talented] top to bottom. Defensively they don’t really have a weak spot, and offensively, they make you defend the whole formation.”
Pembroke, a newcomer in the Mountain East Conference, has history with Kirkland and the Golden Eagles. In Kirkland’s first two seasons as head coach (2011-2012), he led UC against Pembroke. The teams split the two-game series, with Pembroke defeating UC 52-14 in 2011 and UC beating Pembroke 42-30 in 2012. Saturday will be the first time the teams face off since the 2012 matchup.
WVSU at Glenville State
Elsewhere in the MEC, West Virginia State (1-1) is set to play a road matchup against Glenville State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off the aforementioned 48-21 loss to UNC Pembroke and are looking to bounce back this weekend. UC coach John Pennington talked about Pembroke’s talent level when reflecting on the loss.
“They played a great game, they’re a really good football team,” Pennington said. “They had guys at every position that were good players.”
He said that regardless of the loss, his team did a good job handling adversity as the Yellow Jackets faced constant schedule changes due to COVID-19.
“We had three different opponents to prepare for in 48 hours,” he said. “It was a mental roller coaster, not just for the players, but [also] the coaching staff.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s game against the Pioneers (0-2), Pennington is preparing his team for its first road game of the season.
“I’m anxious to get to go on the road and [see] how our leaders handle the road trip,” Pennington said. “We [want to] go up there and respond to a loss and keep doing the things that have made us successful so far.”