INSTITUTE – History was made here today as the West Virginia Wesleyan football program defeated West Virginia State by a 35-14 score to give first-year head coach Del Smith his first victory at the collegiate level.
After playing Shepherd on the road well in week one and having a near miss against Glenville State last week at home, the Bobcats had few issues in disposing of the Yellow Jackets at Dickerson Stadium in a Mountain East Conference contest.
"Getting that win is more of a relief than anything," coach Smith said after the game. "It's exciting to see the team in the locker room getting to celebrate. I felt we were really close last week and we let that game get away from us. That one hurt even worse because it was so close. We challenged the team as a staff to put all three phases together and to play a better second half of football and I was really pleased with their effort."
Heading into the season, it was expected that senior running back Michael Anderson would be one of team leaders this fall for coach Smith.
Anderson hasn't disappointed as he scored four of the five of the Bobcat touchdowns today in the victory. Anderson, who leads the MEC in rushing, added to his total as he ran for 156 yards on 29 carries and three scores. He also caught three passes for 41 yards and a score for 196 all-purpose yards.
"Michael's performance today was just gutty," coach Smith said. "Those were hard yards. Not a lot of big plays but he moved the chains when we needed him to."
It looked like West Virginia State was going to score first when Austin Hensley connected on a 51-yard pass to Akil Washington, but Wesleyan's Tavaris Anderson forced Washington to fumble with Bobcat Anthony Hill jumping on the loose ball
The Bobcats were off and running after that.
Michael Anderson capped off Wesleyan's second drive with a three-yard scamper off the right side to give the Bobcats a 6-0 lead.
Tyler Fischer was good on the extra-point kick to treat Wesleyan to a 7-0 lead with 6:57 showing on the first-quarter clock.
Wesleyan's defense held West Virginia State on a fourth-and-two situation at the Bobcat 28.
It took the offense 11 plays to move the ball 72 yards as Michael Anderson finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Fischer's kick was wide left as Wesleyan took a 13-0 lead.
West Virginia State scored to make it 13-7, but Wesleyan answered right back with an eight-play, 58-yard drive.
The 'Cats went for two and Deal found Marcus Smith open in the right corner as the 'Cats extended their lead to 21-7 with 2:31 left in the second quarter.
Following a 53-yard kick-off return by Tavaris Anderson, Wesleyan found the end zone in just three plays to start the second half.
Michael Anderson was stymied for no gain and a three-yard gain on first and second down, but on third-and-seven, he shot through the Yellow Jacket defense for a 41-yard scoring run and the rout was on for the Bobcats.
Fischer's kick was good as Wesleyan went up by a 28-7 score.
Wesleyan put the final nail in the coffin right before the end of the third quarter. Deal hooked up with Michael Anderson for a 21-yard scoring strike that gave Wesleyan a 34-7 lead with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Fischer's kick was good as the Bobcats went up by a 35-7 score.
The Yellow Jackets added a final score with 12:15 left on the fourth-quarter clock.
Wesleyan racked up 364 yards of offense getting 194 on the ground and 170 through the air.
Deal completed 11 of his 16 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Jabari Weems intercepted two passes, one in the West Virginia State end zone. Weems now has three interceptions in the last two games.
"Jabari going into the season really wasn't a starter," coach Smith remarked. "The easy thing to do would be to give up and say I don't want to do this, but he has kept working and battling and has worked himself back into the fold and is making some huge plays for us."
Wesleyan (1-2) will return to action when they host Concord in a MEC battle at Cebe Ross Field.
Concord dropped a home contest to Urbana today by a 21-15 score.
The Mountain Lions will enter the game with a 1-2 record.
"This is a week-to-week league and there isn't a bad team in the Mountain East Conference," concluded coach Smith. "We will not be taking anyone lightly."
Kick-off for the Concord game is slated for 1 p.m.