An opportunistic Concord football team played take away and keep away in cruising to a 21-3 victory against West Liberty Saturday afternoon at Callaghan Stadium.
The Mountain Lions (6-4, 5-2) forced the Hilltoppers (5-5, 4-4) into five turnovers and held the ball for more than 40 minutes to pick up their fourth win in the last five games.
Concord set the tone early by taking the opening kickoff and grinding nearly 10 minutes off the clock on a frustrating 18-play, 69-yard scoring drive.The Mountain Lions converted two fourth downs - one on a Hilltopper personal foul that wiped out a Concord punt - and also cashed in three third downs to take a 7-0 lead. The final third down conversion came on a third-and-goal from the West Liberty 13 when quarterback Evin Dusold hit wide receiver Tyler Smith on a crossing route over the middle for the score.
The Hilltoppers tried to answer but Dylan Lagarde was intercepted by Mike Carey at the Concord 25 and the Mountain Lion defensive back returned the interception to midfield.
The West Liberty defense stiffened but the WLU offense couldn't move the sticks and a short punt gave the ball back to the hosts in Hilltopper territory as the second quarter got under way.
Concord drove inside the West Liberty 10 and appeared to have been stopped when Dusold fumbled the snap on fourth-and-one from the WLU 8 but an offsides penalty against the Hilltoppers gave the ball back to the Mountain Lions and fullback Ben Nestor scored from four yards out on the next play.
Lagarde was intercepted again on the ensuing possession, setting up a 40-yard field goal by Andy Ellington that sent Concord off the field with a 16-0 halftime lead.
Senior quarterback L.D. Crow ran the West Liberty offense in the second half but the visitors continued to struggle against the Mountain Lions' nationally-ranked defense. West Liberty finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter when tailback Isiah Moody broke into the clear on a draw and ripped off a 27-yard run that carried deep into Concord territory. A holding penalty pushed the Hilltoppers out of the red zone but Jeff Hoak salvaged the possession by booming a 48-yard field goal through the pipes with 10:50 left to play. West Liberty couldn't come any closer as the Mountain Lions closed out the scoring with a safety and a long field goal to drop the Hilltoppers back to the .500 mark.
Moody led all runners with 73 yards on 14 carries as West Liberty rushed for 108 yards on 22 carries while holding Concord to just 80 rushing yards on 39 attempts.
The difference came through the air as Crow and Lagarde combined to complete just 13-of-29 passes for 85 yards with four interceptions while Dusold completed 19-of-37 tosses for 174 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
West Liberty wraps up the 2012 season at home on Saturday when the Hilltoppers host UNC-Pembroke in a 1 p.m. game at Russek Field.