Urbana University will make its final road trip of the season to West Virginia State in a conference game against the Yellow Jackets. Saturday’s kickoff at Laken Field is set for noon in Institute, West Virginia, with a live video stream available at UUBlueKnights.com.
After a 3-2 start to the season, UU enters the Week 10 contest at 3-6 overall amid a four-game skid. The Blue Knights most recently fell at home to Glenville State last week, 34-14, a game in which UU had a go-ahead touchdown negated in the fourth quarter and trailed by only five points with eight minutes left in regulation.
Turnovers have been deadly with UU at minus-eight in turnover margin in the last three games.
The Blue Knights will try to ignite the ground game with running backs Maurice Warren Jr. and Ja’Vahri Portis. UU has totaled 358 rushing yards over the previous five games (71.6) after totaling 715 yards on the ground through the first four contests (178.8). Meanwhile, senior wideout Trevon Saunders tied the school’s career record (30) for reception touchdowns last week, and his next TD grab will set the new standard.
On defense, sophomore linebacker Duray Hall leads the MEC in tackles and is the only league player averaging double-digit stops with 10.1 tackles per game. UU continued to create opportunities last week with two interceptions by redshirt freshman safety Jeremiah Fuller, but the Blue Knights failed to capitalize on both takeaways.
Probably the most consistent performer for UU has been punter Brandon Purk.
Purk, a Mechanicsburg High School graduate, pinned four of five punts inside the 20 last week, running his season total to 26 of his 50 kicks landing inside the opponent’s 20. The junior is averaging a career-high 41.2 yards per punt and ranks 30th in the nation in net punting.
West Virginia State saw its four-game winning streak snapped last week despite a 24-7 lead at halftime over Fairmont State. The 34 points given up last week against the Falcons (34-27) was the most by WVSU in four weeks. Under first year head coach John Pennington, the Jackets are the MEC’s second-ranked offense. Senior quarterback/wide receiver duo Matt Kinnick (19 TD, 6 INT, 260.8 yds/gm) and Quinton Gray (88.8 yds/gm, 10 TD) lead the way for the Yellow Jackets, who are averaging 37 points per game.
Saturday will be the fifth meeting between UU and WVSU with every victory going to the away team in the all-time series (2-2). WVSU won last year’s weather-delayed game 37-24 at UU Stadium. In 2015, UU won 30-23 at Laken Field for head coach Tyler Haines’ first career coaching victory when Saunders pulled down a last-second TD catch for the win.