BUCKHANNON – It wasn't pretty, but West Virginia Wesleyan head football coach Del Smith will never apologize for an ugly victory.
In game with special team nightmares with Halloween approaching and offenses that had sputtered early on, Wesleyan survived to win a 27-25 contest over the University of Charleston Golden Eagles today in a Mountain East Conference contest at Cebe Ross Field.
In one of the most bizarre openings to a college football game, the first three scores of the game were all safeties.
Charleston earned the first safety on a blocked punt with Wesleyan getting the next two -- one on a bad long snap on a punt and one on a blocked punt.
Wesleyan' s Nate Simmons had the punt block for Wesleyan.
The gave the football game a baseball score as the Bobcats owned a 4-2 lead.
Wesleyan finally managed to get their offense going late in the second quarter.
Starting at their own 15, it took the Bobcats 14 plays and five minutes to find pay dirt as Michael Anderson scored on a one-yard run with 38 second remaining in the half.
Tyler Fischer's (pictured) point-after kick was good as Wesleyan took an 11-2 lead at the break.
Wesleyan limited Charleston to just five yards passing in the first half.
On their first series of the second half, Ryan Deal found Ian Waddell near midfield for a completion and Waddell out ran the Charleston defense for a 71-yard pass-and-catch score with just two minutes ticked off the third-quarter clock.
Fischer's kick was good as the Bobcats took an 18-2 lead.
Charleston came right back with a score on their next possession, but their two-point conversion failed as they closed the gap to 18-8.
Charleston tried an on-side kick on the ensuing kick-off, but the ball bounced to Wesleyan's Robert Armstrong and he raced down the left sideline for a 45-yard return for the score with 9:03 left in the third quarter.
The point-after-kick failed, but Wesleyan led by a 24-8 score.
Charleston scored a touchdown on a 42-yard pass play from Brant Grisel to Joey Augustin and made good on their two-point conversion to close the gap to 24-16 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles scored again on the first play of the fourth quarter on a Marvin Elam one-yard run, but their two-point conversion pass was broken up by the Wesleyan secondary.
That made it a 24-22 game in favor of Wesleyan.
Charleston took their first lead of the game on a 28-yard field goal by Brett Benes with 10:02 remaining in the game.
Wesleyan moved the ball down to the Charleston 23-yard line on their next drive, but faced a fourth down and six situation.
Smith called on Fischer for a 40-yard field goal, and the Bobcat kicker split the uprights to return the lead back to Wesleyan at 27-25 with 7:04 left to play.
Charleston advanced the ball all the way to the Wesleyan 16-yard line on their next posession, but Kevin Pharaon stuffed Elam on a one-yard loss on a fourth-and-one play.
Wesleyan went three-and-out on their next drive and punted the ball away as Charleston took over at their own 37-yard line with 1:52 remaining.
Charleston's offense managed one first down, but Wesleyan's Derrick Butler picked off a Grisel pass at midfield with 40 seconds remaining to secure the win for the Bobcats.
Wesleyan outgained Charleston by a 338-334 margin.
Anderson led the Wesleyan ground attack with 63 yards on 21 carries and one score.
Deal completed 14 of his 32 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown.
Waddell caught four passes for 95 yards and a score.
Simmons and Pharaon led the defense with nine tackles each.
Wesleyan improved to 3-6 overall and 3-5 in the MEC.
They will hit the road next Saturday as they visit UVa.-Wise in a conference clash.
The game will kick-off at noon.