‘D’ Prevails in Black and Gold Game

Waialae pleased with WLU football

WEST LIBERTY — The West Liberty University football team wrapped up spring drills with the Gold (defense) hanging on for a 47-34 win against the Black (offense) Thursday night in an entertaining Black and Gold controlled scrimmage at West Family Stadium.

“I liked the way the offense responded in the second half after struggling to adjust to the stunts and blitzes in the early going,” veteran head coach Roger Waialae said. “We started to see guys making plays on both sides of the football and that’s what you’re looking for as a coaching staff.

“Competition makes everyone better and we saw that.”

Brenton Colabella, returning for his junior season, completed 18 of 24 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown in a solid performance but the other two quarterbacks also had their moments.

Rangy redshirt freshman Jake Kalama completed 6 of 12 passes for 92 yards and a TD while running for 13 yards and another score on two carries. Lenoir-Rhyne transfer Aaron Farmer completed 6 of 10 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore WR Mike McLean was the leading receiver with four catches for 127 yards and touchdown grabs of 23 and 30 yards while junior WR Osman Kargbo had five catches for 102 yards, including a 65-yard scoring strike from Colabella. Junior H-Backs Ian Kelly and Trevor Hardesty combined for 10 catches and 79 yards.

Traditionally a spread offense team, the Hilltoppers also took the wraps off a run-oriented tight formation featuring four tight ends/H-backs.

“We’re a little more physical football team than we’ve been in recent years,” Waialae said, “and this gives teams a different look. We need to develop a little more of a passing game out of those sets but we were able to get some big runs out of it.”

Senior TBs Braxton Gamble and Jeremiah Ortiz led the rushing attack. Gamble rumbled for 122 yards on 14 carries while Ortiz pinballed his way through traffic for 69 yards on 15 rushes.

There was no shortage of highlights on the defensive side of the ball as the Gold team controlled the first several series, bolting out to a 34-6 lead in the modified scoring system which awarded points for three-and-outs, punts and turnovers before the offense got its feet on the ground.

Zach Connor was the leading tackler from his linebacker spot with nine stops and one tackle-for-loss and DE Mohammed Sankoh was a playmaking machine with four tackles-for-loss and three QB sacks.

Tyrell Richmond and Nate Solomon each had an interception and a pass break-up while Ben Berkovitz added a pair of sacks and Zach Heasley weighed in with a sack and a tackle-for-loss.

The Hilltoppers return to campus in early August to begin preseason drills with the season opener set for Aug. 31 when Urbana comes to West Family Stadium for a Thursday night game.