BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcat football team was oh-so-close to their first victory of the season today when they squared off against the Glenville State Pioneers at Cebe Ross Field.
Wesleyan held a 14-3 advantage at half and led 28-24 after a blocked punt was returned for a touchdown with five minutes left the in fourth quarter, but the Bobcats ultimately lost a 31-28 decision.
It was a game that featured six lead changes.
Glenville State took an early 3-0 lead when Chandler Carrera kicked a 19-yard field goal with 3:58 ticked off the second-quarter clock.
Wesleyan managed to get on the scoreboard with a nifty 57-yard run by Michael Anderson down the right sideline with 5:06 left in the second quarter.
Tyler Fischer's kick was good as Wesleyan took a 7-3 lead.
Fischer was true on his extra-point attempt as Wesleyan took a 14-3 lead into the half.
Glenville State scored twice in the third quarter to recapture the lead.
Dante Absher scored on an eight-yard pass from Dante Roberts with 9:26 to go in the quarter and then Roberts had a one-yard quarterback sneak at the buzzer signaling the end of the period.
Carrera was good on both extra-point kicks as Glenville State took a 21-17 lead heading into the final quarter.
Tavaris Anderson fell on a muffed punt for Wesleyan just 90 seconds into the fourth quarter as Wesleyan took over at the Glenville 30-yard line.
Just two plays later, Deal found Marcus Smith in the right corner of the end zone for a 20-yard scoring pass.
Fischer's kick was good was Wesleyan claimed the lead back at 21-17 with two minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
Glenville State used an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 3:50 off the clock and ended with a two-yard pass to Absher from Roberts.
That gave Glenville State a 24-21 advantage with 8:40 remaining.
The West Virginia Wesleyan special teams came up with a big play with 5:20 left in the game.
With Glenville State forced to punt on a fourth-and-two and their own 27, Wesleyan's Jerel English burst through the line and blocked the punt. Nate Simmons scooped up the loose ball and scampered into the end zone to give the Bobcats a 28-24 lead as Fischer was good on his extra-point try.
Glenville State though had a short field to work with as they returned the Wesleyan kick-off to the 50-yard line.
The Pioneers found the end zone in just six plays as Thomas Boles capped the drive with a five-yard run with 3:56 left in the game.
On Wesleyan's final drive of the game, they pushed the ball all the way down to the Glenville State 30-yard line but they turned the ball over on a fumble after a pass reception.
Despite the closeness of the game, Glenville State had an 11-minute advantage in time of possession and ran 87 offensive plays to Wesleyan's 58.
Wesleyan amassed 341 yards of offense while Glenville State compiled 499.
Michael Anderson led the Bobcat offense with 157 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.
Deal ended his day completing 15 of his 29 passes for 197 and two scores.
Deal's favorite target was Waddell who caught five passes for 76 yards and one touchdown.
The loss drops the Bobcats to 0-2 on the season and 0-2 in the Mountain East Conference.
Wesleyan will return to action on the road next Saturday as they visit West Virginia State.
The MEC contest will start at 1 p.m.
(Photo courtesy of Brian Bergstrom/The Record Delta)