West Liberty Football Suffers First Loss to #17 Notre Dame

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - The West Liberty University football team traveled to #17 Notre Dame College today and suffered its first loss of the season, 34-17.

Rudy Garcia passed for 225 yards and a touchdown, but a trio of interceptions along with a dominating Falcon run defense tripped up WLU. Garcia was also the leading carrier for the Black and Gold, totaling 42 of the team's 51 yards on the ground.

The Hilltoppers were nearing midfield on their first drive of the game and a lost fumble went into the hands of Notre Dame. The Falcons picked up the fumble and went all the way to the house to take the early lead.

West Liberty bounced back and evened the score with a 14-play, 75-yard drive the following possession. Garcia capped off the drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown.

The Falcons scored two quick touchdowns near the 10-minute mark in the second quarter. First they completed a 14-play, 75-yard drive and then on the second play of the ensuing WLU drive Notre Dame snagged a 29-yard pick six.

With six and a half minutes to play in the first half, the 'Toppers took advantage of a botched punt attempt by Notre Dame on its own five-yard line. Garcia found Khadeem Richards for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it a one-score game on the first play after the failed punt.

Each team punted a pair of times before the half and WLU went to the break down a touchdown.

West Liberty could only muster three points in the second half over six drives. Notre Dame forced three punts and two interceptions in the second half to keep hold of the lead.

Justin Kaplan sank a 27-yard field goal for the Hilltoppers lone second half score with just over a minute to play in the third frame.

The Falcons added a field goal and a touchdown in the third quarter and then another field goal with under two minutes to play to bolster their lead.

Zach Dixon and Trent Crawford each had 11 tackles for the 'Topper defense. Shon Stephens made another interception as time wound down in the first half to bring his season total to seven in three games.

West Liberty returns home next week to take on West Virginia Wesleyan. Kickoff is set for 1 pm from West Family Stadium. The 41st annual WLU Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place prior to the game along with a recognition of the 2022 class at halftime.

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