Athens hasn’t been a kind place for Fairmont State’s football team to visit in recent years.

Tonight at 6 p.m., the Falcons hope to change that fact and send their four seniors out with a victory when they battle Concord University on the road at Callaghan Stadium in the season finale for both schools.

Unlike today’s games between Charleston and Glenville and Seton Hill and West Liberty where the West Virginia Conference title and possible playoff berths are at stake, the Falcons and Mountain Lions are battling mostly for pride.

FSU comes into the contest 4-5 overall, 2-5 and in seventh place in the nine-team WVC standings. Concord, on the other hand, is 0-10 overall, 0-7 in league play and currently last in the conference.

But don’t expect tonight’s game to be a cakewalk for the Falcons, who have gone 0-3 in their last three trips to Athens and haven’t won there since claiming their last league title in 2000.

“Going to Concord presents its own challenges for us,” said FSU second-year head coach Mike Lopez. “If you look at the scores the last three times we’ve been down there they’ve been very tight games and we’ve come out on the short end of all three of those contests.

“Believe me, we remember those games and we know how much it hurts leaving there and riding home four hours after losing. The good thing, though, is that this is a new year and a new opportunity for us. We feel good about our team. We’re still a little banged up in several areas, but we’re as healthy as we’ve been in a while and we know the challenge we’re facing down there Saturday night.”

The home team has won the last seven games in this series. The Falcons lost 14-13 in 2002, 23-19 in 2004 and 13-10 in overtime in 2006.

Because of that, none of FSU’s four seniors — David Hill, John Rahl, Matt Vujaklya or Leo Thomas — know what it’s like to win in Athens.

“Those four are a special group of people who have really helped us to build the foundation which we feel is very, very sturdy, solid and strong here,” said Lopez. “These kids are Fairmont and to go out and get a win the last time we’re all together is very important to this group and our other guys know that.”

Last season FSU won a defensive struggle with the 1-10 Mountain Lions, 17-0 in Fairmont. This fall victory has eluded Concord, but Lopez knows full well that the Mountain Lions would like nothing better than to end their season with a win over the Falcons.

“Concord has not won a game and our team certainly understands that they’re going to do anything they can possibly do to win,” said Lopez. “Defensively, we’ve got to play better than we have been. Offensively, we’ve got to keep being productive and on special teams we’re very close to having a good year in that area and those guys certainly want to finish strong.

“It’s challenging for us to win on the road and it’s challenging for us to win at Concord. The bottom line for us is this is the last time we’re strapping it on for the year so let’s make sure we go out there and play well for four quarters.”

Concord has played a tougher schedule than FSU this fall. The combined record of the Mountain Lions’ opponents is 59-38 (.608) compared to a 50-48 (.510) mark for the Falcons’ opposition.

CU, however, has struggled this fall. The Mountain Lions have been shut out in their last two outings and have scored just 115 points in 10 games so far this year.

Concord’s offense is led by quarterback Thomas Frazier, who has completed 95-of-200 passes for 769 yards and just five touchdowns. He’s been intercepted 11 times. His favorite target is receiver Thomas Mayo, who has 40 catches for 325 yards and three scores. On the ground CU is led by Brian Kennedy, who has 500 yards and one TD on 109 carries.

Fairmont State’s offense, on the other hand, has been productive in its last two outings. The Falcons have combined for 69 points in their last two games led by multi-talented receiver Perry Baker, who has caught three passes for 84 yards and one touchdown and run for 244 yards and two scores on just 12 carries in those two contests. Baker leads FSU and is currently tied for ninth in the WVC in scoring with 11 touchdowns.

Fairmont State leads the all-time series between the two schools, 42-28-2.

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