BUCKHANNON – To get beat in the final minute of a game, you can chalk it up to just one of things that happen.
You lose in the final minute for a second straight week and you might think you are lady luck just isn’t on your side
For it to happen a third straight week, you can’t help but wonder why your team is so snake-bitten.
First-year West Virginia Wesleyan head coach Tony Testa must wonder what has to happen for his team to get over this string of late second losses as it happened again Saturday when they welcomed West Liberty into Cebe Ross Field on Senior Day.
In a crazy finish to the game, West Liberty nine points to the final 1:14 of the game to escape with a 23-20 victory.
The game was tied at 14-14 midway through the fourth quarter with a frantic finish on top.
Wesleyan was set to the punt the ball away with just under nine minutes left in the contest, but a botched snap gave the ball to West Liberty at the ball at the Wesleyan 27-yard line.
West Liberty fumbled the ball away to Wesleyan just three plays later at the Bobcat 25-yard line.
Facing a third-and-one situation at their own 30, Wesleyan gambled, and it paid off as Jarrett Northrop found Derek Drapen open on the Hilltopper sideline and a after a 59-yard catch and run by Drapen he was in the end zone with 6:44 left.
The point-after however was missed leaving Wesleyan up by a 20-14 score.
West Liberty fumbled the ball away again after Hilltopper quarterback Zach Phillips was sacked as Wesleyan’s Aman Speed Jr. recovered the ball at the Bobcat 39-yard line.
With 3:52 left in the game, Wesleyan appeared in good shape but Kord Jenkins turned the ball back over to West Liberty as a 13-yard run.
Starting at midfield, West Liberty scored in eight plays when Phillips found Isaiah Robinson open in the end zone for a 22-yard scoring strike with 1:14 left.
Wesleyan caught a huge break though when Owen Rozanc’s kick failed, leaving the game tied at 20-20.
Wesleyan went for the win instead of trying to get the game into overtime and it backfired on them as on the second play of their next drive, Northrop was picked off by B. Morrison at the Wesleyan 37-yard line.
Facing a fourth-and-12 situation, Wesleyan was flagged with a questionable pass interference that gave West Liberty the ball at the 10-yard line.
Following an incompletion, D. J. Frisby ran it five yards to move the ball to the Bobcat five-yard with six seconds remaining.
West Liberty took a time out to stop the clock followed by Wesleyan calling time out to freeze Rozanc on his 22-yard field goal kick, but Rozanc sent it through the uprights giving West Liberty a 23-20 advantage.
Wesleyan was able to get a final pass off on their possession but it netted a minus two-yard loss after a few laterals.
The game started out well enough for Wesleyan as Drapen hauled in a 13-yard scoring pass from Northrop with 9:55 left in the opening quarter.
West Liberty answered on their next drive as Robinson caught a 55-yard pass from Phillips for the score with 7:44 remaining in the first.
The 7-7 score stood at the half.
Wesleyan’s John Merica intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards for the score to give the Bobcats a 14-7 lead with 9:21 left in the third quarter.
West Liberty’s Ty Holmes caught a 16-yard pass from Phillips for a score late in the third quarter to deadlock the game at 14-14 setting up the wild fourth-quarter finish.
Wesleyan managed just 240 yards in the game, getting 250 through the air but minus 10 yards on the ground as Northrop was sacked nine times for 60 yards.
Jenkins led the Wesleyan ground game with 37 yards on seven tries.
Northrop completed 21 of his 42 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Drapen caught four balls for 92 yards and two scores.
West Liberty improved to 4-5 overall and 3-5 in the MEC.
Wesleyan dropped to 1-9 overall and 1-8 in the MEC.
The Bobcats will wrap up their regular season Saturday when they visit Fairmont State for a Thursday night kick-off at 7 p.m.
West Liberty 7 0 7 9 – 23
West Virginia Wesleyan 7 0 7 6 – 20
West Virginia Wesleyan – Derek Drapen, 13-yard pass from Jarrett Northrop (Michael Sussman kick).
West Liberty – Isaiah Robinson, 55-yard pass from Zach Phillips (Owen Rozanc kick).
West Virginia Wesleyan – John Merica, 20-yard interception (Susman kick).
West Liberty – Ty Holmes, 16-yard pass from Zach Phillips (Rozanc kick).
West Virginia Wesleyan – 59-yard pass from Northrop (kick failed).
West Liberty – Isaiah Robinson, 20-yard pass from Phillips (kick failed).
West Liberty – Rozanc kick, 22-yard field goal.
First downs – West Liberty: 21 (6 rushing, 13 passing, 2 penalty); West Virginia Wesleyan: 14 (4 rushing, 9 passing, 1 penalty).
Rushing yards – West Liberty 33-76; West Virginia Wesleyan 28-(-10).
Passing yards – West Liberty 272; West Virginia Wesleyan 250.
Total yards – West Liberty 348; West Virginia Wesleyan 240.
Passes – West Liberty 25-44-2; West Virginia Wesleyan 21-42-2.
Penalties – West Liberty 1-15; West Virginia Wesleyan 5-45.
Punts – West Liberty 6-41.8; West Virginia Wesleyan 7-35.7.
Fumbles – West Liberty 4; West Virginia Wesleyan 6.
Fumbles lost – West Liberty 4; West Virginia Wesleyan 2.
Time of possession — West Liberty 30:28; West Virginia Wesleyan 29:32.
West Liberty – Quincy Wimbish 13-37; Zach Phillips 8-23; D.J. Frisby 9-10; Aaron Farmer 3-6. Totals 33-120.
West Virginia Wesleyan – Kord Jenkins 7-37; Shaq Freeman-Parks 4-5; Lawrence Brown 3-4; team 1-(-18); Jarrett Northrop 13-(-38). Totals 28-(-10).
West Liberty – Phillips 25-44 for 272 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions.
West Virginia Wesleyan – Northrop 21-for-42 for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions.
West Liberty – Isaiah Robinson 7-153 (2 touchdowns); Ty Holmes 6-58 (1 touchdown); Wimbish 4-25; Thomas Cole 5-24; Ridge Durbin 1-6; Wisdom Jenkins 1-4; Nate Phillips 1-2. Totals 25-272 (3 touchdowns).
West Virginia Wesleyan – Derek Drapen 4-92 (2 touchdowns); Kenny Lewis Jr. 3-59; Devin Taylor 6-41; Jekins 2-28; C. J. Washington 1-13; Brown 2-10; Evin Hurt 2-10; Dana Young 1-6. Totals 21-250 (2 touchdowns).