WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The West Liberty University football team will be trying to cool off a red-hot Fairmont State squad in Saturday afternoon’s annual Homecoming Game.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at West Family Stadium.
Coach Roger Waialae’s Hilltoppers (3-3, 3-2) are looking for a bounce-back game after having a two-game winning streak snapped in a 20-16 loss at Concord last week. The Falcons (3-3, 3-2) have rebounded impressively after a slow start and come rolling into town off their third straight win, a 44-10 blasting of Alderson Broaddus a week ago.
It’s an important game in terms of the Mountain East Conference standings as WLU and the Falcons are part of a five-team logjam with 3-2 league records – just one game behind front-running Notre Dame, Frostburg State and Charleston, all of whom are 4-1 in MEC action midway through the season.
The injury bug took a bite out of the Hilltoppers at Concord last weekend as senior QB Jack Allison suffered a late-game injury and is out indefinitely. Red-shirt freshman Jamie Diven, who has played well when healthy this season, is next man up.
“Jack got hurt late in the fourth quarter last week,” Waialae said. “He didn’t say anything and finished the game but after we had him checked out, he's going to be out for some time so Jamie will get the start on Saturday. Jamie’s won games for us and proven he can play at a high level so we’re totally comfortable with him.”
It’s a classic match-up of the irresistible force and the immovable object. The West Liberty defense has held four of its six opponents below 250 yards of total offense – including all three of their wins. Fairmont State averaged just 11 points and 216 yards a game in three straight season-opening losses but have been racking up 35 points and 462 yards a game during the current 3-game win streak.
“Fairmont has big-play capability at the skill positions and their offensive line is really good,” Waialae said. “They’re active and aggressive on both sides of the ball and their defensive front seven has been particularly impressive. A lot of their interceptions have come off deflections at the line of scrimmage.
“We’re going to have to win in the trenches in order to win on the scoreboard this week. I know that’s the case every week at every level of football but I think it’s especially true for this game.”
Homecoming festivities on the Hilltopper campus kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday with a coffee and donuts breakfast, sponsored by the WLU Alumni Foundation, inside the Alumni Tent followed by guided tours of the university campus. Tailgating with all the usual food trucks, live music and family-friendly activities also begins at 9 a.m. in the lots adjacent to West Family Stadium.
The annual Homecoming Parade is set for 10:30 a.m. with students and alumni tailgating before and during the game. Halftime ceremonies will be highlighted by the introduction of the alumni's 2020 and 2021 Wall of Honor inductees – Carol Spadafore Frum, Barb Laifer, Dr. A.J. Monseau, Bill Beatty, Dr. David Jane Gilmour, Dr. Gerald Crabtree and Dr. Todd Bullard – along with the announcement of West Liberty's 2021 Homecoming King and Queen.
Students wrap up their Homecoming day with the annual Homecoming Dance in the ASRC from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Alumni have the option of two Homecoming Post Parties from 5-7 p.m., hosted by the Alpha Tavern and the West Sports Bar at Stratford Springs. Homecoming Weekend concludes on Sunday with an 11 a.m. Homecoming Brunch at the Alpha Tavern.
The WLU Homecoming Game is sponsored by Undo's and The Alpha Tavern while the WLU Homecoming Weekend is sponsored by Barnes & Noble College.