WEST LIBERTY, W. Va. – Urbana University (1-3, 1-3 MEC) gained nearly 500 yards on offense Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough as the Blue Knights came up short at West Liberty (2-2, 2-1 MEC), 28-12, in front of 761 fans at West Family Stadium.
UU junior QB Cale Burdyshaw completed a career-high 27 passes to nine different receivers for 214 yards and a touchdown. However, he threw two interceptions which proved to be very costly in West Liberty territory.
With 11:23 left in the game, Burdyshaw found tight end Larry Southall on fourth and five from inside the WLU 10, and Southall leaped into the end zone to put UU on the board.
But, West Liberty answered with a quick strike one minute later and put the game out of reach, 28-6.
Junior Eric Pelfrey took over for Burdyshaw at QB midway through the fourth and promptly went 7-of-13 for 112 yards. Pelfrey used his athleticism to make plays out of the pocket, and found gold when he connected with WR Trevon Saunders for a 69-yard TD with 2:21 left.
It was too little, too late though, as West Liberty ran out the clock.
Graduate student Ben Sasu rushed for a season-high 105 yards on 19 touches, including a long dash of 38 yards. Sasu is the first UU rusher to top 100 yards since Burdyshaw tallied 104 rushing yards in the 2014 season opener.
The UU wideouts had an outstanding performance, led by Saunders’ 84 yards on four catches. Saunders finished with 128 all-purpose yards, setting up UU’s first TD with a 36-yard punt return to the WLU 13.
Senior Karim Jones Jr. had a team-high seven grabs for 68 yards.
The Blue Knights more than doubled their offensive output from last week, piling up a season-high 493 yards, but the inability to execute at the end of long drives ultimately sealed UU’s fate in Week 4.
UU engineered five drives of 55 yards or more, with no results.
For the second straight week, the Blue Knight offense methodically moved down the field on its opening drive. UU went 61 yards on 12 plays, but had nothing to show for it after a poor snap and hold ruined a 33-yard FG attempt.
Burdyshaw threw his first interception on UU’s second drive (eight plays, 63 yards), while Sasu lost a fumble on the team’s opening drive in the second half (11 plays, 53 yards). The trend continued into the fourth quarter as a 16-play drive for over six minutes, and a 12-play series for nearly five minutes each ended with a turnover on downs.
UU went just 4-of-17 on third down, but did convert 50 percent of its fourth down attempts (4-of-8).
West Liberty went up 14-0 in the second quarter on two long pass plays to WR Daree’ Goodwin, who tore apart the UU secondary. Goodwin finished with three TDs and 125 yards on five catches. UU has now been out-scored, 52-0, in the second quarter this season.
The Blue Knight defense continued to play tough against the run, limiting West Liberty RB Jeremiah Ortiz to just 60 yards on 15 carries.
Senior LB Bo Keener paced UU defensively with seven total tackles. Junior LB Kevin Chapple registered six tackles and two for a loss. Sophomore DE Clayton Bullard (six tackles) picked up a half sack, along with Chapple.
Late in the first half, senior CB Chuck Wynn ended a WLU scoring threat by intercepting WLU quarterback Dakota Conwell in the end zone. Wynn now has an interception in two straight games.
Conwell was productive though, tossing four TDs on only 11 completions for 212 yards.
UU will look to get back on track at home next week with an additional few days of preparation. The Blue Knights will host Fairmont State on Saturday, Oct. 3 for homecoming. Kickoff is set for noon.