CLARION, Pa. - The West Liberty University football team grinded out a win in its season opener tonight at Clarion University. The Hilltopper defense forced three turnovers to propel them to a 21-14 win over the Golden Eagles.
On the second drive for the Hilltopper defense, Dixon rocked the scrambling Clarion quarterback on a third and nine to force a fumble on Clarion's own 18 yard line. David Gilcreast chased down the loose ball to set the West Liberty offense up on the three yard line.
Wimbish Jr. put the first points on the board one play later with a three-yard rush at the six and a half minute mark..
The Golden Eagles were able to even the score with an 8-play, 63-yard drive four minutes later.
On a third and nine near midfield the Hilltopper drive looked as if it was heading towards a fourth down, but Diven eluded Clarion defenders and found a wide open Rashawn Harvey for a 48-yard touchdown.
Thirty seconds before the half, Stephens swiped an interception deep in Clarion's own end and returned it for six points to put the Hilltoppers up 21-7 heading into the locker room.
Clarion controlled the second half and fought its way back into the game with a touchdown at the six minute mark in the third quarter. The Golden Eagles ran the ball six straight times to punch it in on their third drive of the half.
Defenses battled it out the rest of the way with the Hilltoppers standing strong to keep the lead.
Shon Stephens was back at it in the secondary in what was arguably a game-deciding situation. Clarion intercepted the Hilltoppers with 40 seconds left in the third and then continued the drive deep into its own end at the start of the final frame. Stephens made his second interception of the game in the endzone on a 2nd-and-2 from the two yard line to put the ball back in West Liberty's possession.
West Liberty opens the home and conference schedule next week when Alderson Broaddus visits West Family Stadium. It will be another Thursday night special with a 6 pm kickoff from the hilltop.