Excitement surrounds the Urbana University football program this week as the Blue Knights gear up for a Thursday night showdown at West Liberty. The sixth all-time matchup between the two schools has been tabbed the Mountain East Conference ‘Game of the Week.’ Kickoff is set for 7:10 p.m. at West Family Stadium.
Coverage of the game will be carried by 16 MEC Network stations and live HD video will be available through the MetroNews Digital Channel at wvmetronews.com. Travis Jones is scheduled to call the play-by-play action alongside analyst Rasheed Marshall.
UU (1-2, 1-2 MEC) enters the contest looking to rebound after a 23-7 setback on its home turf to nationally-ranked Concord last Saturday. The Blue Knights should still have their confidence though, as UU faced a similar scenario in Week 2. UU bounced back on the road to conquer West Virginia State, 30-23, following an ugly home loss to open the season.
Quarterback Cale Burdyshaw and company will look to resuscitate the Blue Knight offense against the Hilltoppers. Through three games, UU is averaging 261.7 yards on offense, including 202.7 yards through the air and 59.0 on the ground.
But in the only road game so far, the Blue Knights topped those averages with 379 yards on offense (290 passing, 89 rushing). UU’s 30 points scored at WVSU were also a season high.
Despite the low offensive output, sophomore sensation Trevon Saunders is still averaging 106 receiving yards per game.
Burdyshaw needs to find a way to get Saunders the ball, as the speedster wideout has hauled in five catches of 30-plus yards this season. After starting off the opening drive with three catches last week, Saunders was quieted the rest of the way with just two grabs.
The UU running backs are still looking to break out this season after averaging just over two yards per rush so far. Look for veterans Ben Sasu, Deonta Rudasill and Cedric Presley to split carries.
On defense, the linebacker unit leads the way with the likes of D’Gary Wallace, Kevin Chapple and Bo Keener. Wallace (15.7) and Keener (11.3) lead the conference in tackles, while Chapple (8.3) ranks sixth. Chapple ranks second in the MEC and leads UU in tackles for loss with eight total.
Wallace has accumulated 45 tackles for loss over his career, and enters Week 4 tied for fourth place on UU’s all-time list. He needs two more to claim sole possession of third place.
The defense scored UU’s only touchdown last week after DE Curtis Galloway scooped up a fumble and returned it 54 yards. In addition, cornerback Chuck Wynn grabbed UU’s first interception last week.
On special teams, the kick return game has been a strength for the Blue Knights. Kelly Carter is a threat every time he touches the ball, averaging 31.5 yards per return.
SCOUTING WEST LIBERTY
West Liberty has lost two straight after upsetting then-ranked No. 9 Concord in the season opener, 29-28. WLU played in last week’s MEC featured game, falling 36-30 at Fairmont State. Running back Jeremiah Ortiz carried 28 times for a career-high 217 yards, highlighted by a 63-yard scoring sprint. The Hilltoppers fell victim to seven turnovers and played without starting QB Dakota Conwell.
West Liberty averages 28.7 points and 443.3 yards on offense per game. Defensively, the Hilltoppers have allowed 434.7 yards per contest.