Times West Virginian
URBANA, Ohio —
Things went bad for visiting Fairmont State University less than two minutes into its Mountain East Conference battle with Urbana University here Saturday afternoon at Urbana Stadium, and they never got better.
Blue Knights’ linebacker Lamar Ross scooped up an FSU fumble on the third play of the game and raced 21 yards untouched to the end zone to give his team an early 7-0 lead en route to a 41-5 romp over the Falcons on a cold and windy day in central Ohio.
The victory, Urbana’s fifth in a row, improved the Blue Knights to 6-2 overall and to 6-1 in the MEC.
Fairmont State, on the other hand, dropped its third straight contest to fall to 2-5 overall and to 1-5 in the league. It was also the Falcons’ ninth straight road loss. FSU’s last road victory came against West Virginia State back in 2011.
“Give credit to Urbana,” said FSU senior nose guard Anthony Domico, who forced a fumble and had a pair of tackles in the loss. “They played a great game today.
“The ball definitely didn’t bounce our way, and Urbana capitalized on our mistakes. We also had some trouble with bad field position all day.”
Fairmont’s defense, which continually had its back against the wall Saturday thanks to another dismal performance by the Falcon offense, limited standout Urbana senior quarterback D.J. Mendenhall, the conference’s leading passer, to just 12 completions in the game. However, five of those completions went for touchdowns. He finished 12-of-28 passing for 224 yards and five scores – two of which came in the second quarter as the Blue Knights opened a 20-3 halftime lead over the Falcons.
The 224 passing yards by Mendenhall was his second-lowest output of the season. He threw for just 176 in a 12-9 victory over Glenville State.
In the third quarter, Mendenhall connected on 4-of-9 passes for 103 yards and three scores. He engineered a pair of one-play touchdown drives against FSU thanks to scoring passes of 30 yards to Alvin Busbee Jr. and 39 yards to Kelly Carter. He exited the game for good after the third quarter with his team holding a commanding 41-3 lead.
“Coming into the game we knew he was going to be a challenge to stop,” said FSU cornerback Jacob Jean-Charles. “He found some guys open and completed the ball to them. I’m not saying we played terrible today, but it could’ve been better.”
Field position played a major role in the game’s outcome. In the first half, Urbana had the football eight times and started four of its drives either at the 50 or in Fairmont State territory.
The Falcons, on the other hand, started just one of their first-half drives in Urbana territory after Emanuel Ivey recovered a fumble at the Blue Knights’ 40. However, a quick four-and-out by the FSU offense ended that threat.
The Falcons’ lone points in the game came on a 45-yard field goal by Johnny Dearstine late in the second quarter and on Ivey’s blocked punt in the end zone early in the fourth which gave FSU a safety. The five points is the lowest point total of the season for Fairmont State.
Urbana outgained Fairmont 301-223 in total offense. The Falcons had 18 possessions in the contest, 10 of which ended with three- or four-and-out series. Twice late in the game Fairmont had the football deep in Blue Knights’ territory and came away empty. First, the Falcons failed to convert on a first-and-goal from the one, and later they came away with nothing after having the football first-and-10 from the Urbana 12.
Daniel Monroe led FSU on the ground with a season-high 83 yards on 26 carries. Quarterback Cooper Hibbs completed 17-of-37 passes for 150 yards. Fabien Guerra caught six of those passes for 42 yards, while Nick Alvaro had five catches for 39 yards, and Sharmarte Banks added four grabs for 39 yards.
FSU’s defense held Urbana to just 77 total rushing yards, but it was Mendenhall’s timely connections for touchdowns which made the big difference in the outcome. Four different receivers for the Blue Knights caught TD passes in the victory.
Fairmont State will have a short week to regroup. The Falcons host West Virginia Wesleyan on Halloween Thursday at 7 p.m. at Duvall-Rosier Field.
“We’ve got to regroup and do what we always do which is practice hard and get ready for our next opponent,” said Jean-Charles. “We can’t dwell on this or let it set us back. We have to come together as a team and go out Thursday night and play football.”