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Hilltoppers overcome Braves in season finale

By Curtis Brooks
Sports Editor

November 29, 2012

Photo by Jonathan Bym
Junior Te'vell Williams keeps his balance after breaking a Newberry defender's tackle earlier in the season. Williams hauled in seven catches for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns on Nov. 10 in the Braves' season finale at West Liberty.

In the football team's final contest of the 2012 campaign, they traveled to Wheeling, W. Va., to take on the West Liberty Hilltoppers, from the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, on Nov. 10 at Russek Field.

After leading a majority of the game, the Black and Gold surrendered the final 13 points and a series of second half miscues that cost the visitors the game, as they fell 23-22 to the Hilltoppers in the season finale.

Junior wide out Te'vell Williams led the visitors in a losing effort as he added three more school receiving records to his resume.

Williams finished the game with seven receptions, a new school record 162 receiving yards and a pair of touchdown receptions.

The Hilltoppers kicked off the scoring as their junior place kicker converted a chip shot from 20 yards out to give the host an early 3-0 lead that was maintained throughout the entire first quarter.

The Braves wouldn't respond until the opening seconds of the second quarter when junior signal caller Luke Charles connected with Williams from 23 yards out to give the visitors a 7-3 lead.

In the ensuing drive, West Liberty was pinned deep in their own territory, senior quarterback L.D. Crow fumbled the ball and recovered the ball in the end zone resulting in a safety giving the Black and Gold a six point lead.

In the Braves next offensive possession, they traveled 19 yards in nine plays before freshman kicker Connor Haskins drilled a career-long 48-yard field goal to give his side a 12-3 lead on the road.

The host closed the gap a minute before the halftime break when junior cornerback Justin Black intercepted Charles while the Braves were in scoring position.

Black returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 12-10 at halftime.

After a set of back-and-forth punts to start the second half, the Braves were the first to put points on the board.

Haskins knocked in his second field goal of the game when he converted on a 37-yard try to give the Braves a 15-10 lead.

The visitors' defense quickly responded by forcing a three-and-out and giving their offense the ball with six minutes remaining in the third stanza.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, the duo of Charles and Williams struck for the second time on an 85-yard touchdown bomb.

The 85-yard play by Williams broke the school record for the longest scoring reception.

With a 12-point lead, the Black and Gold allowed mistakes to doom the final score.

The Braves' defense forced a punt after a five-play possession by the Hilltoppers.

Sophomore cornerback L.J. Stroman lost a fumble on the four-yard line on the punt return, setting up an easy touchdown plunge for West Liberty halfback Isiah Moody on the next play, cutting the Braves lead back to single digits going into the final quarter.

The host squad was able to manufacture the game-winning scoring drive in the middle of the fourth stanza with the aid of two Braves' penalties that gave the Hilltoppers good field position.

Crow found sophomore tight end Jesse Rose from four-yards out following a short six play drive to take a decisive 23-22 lead; the host couldn't convert on a two-point conversion attempt following the touchdown.

In the Braves final possession, junior safety Marco Ricchetti intercepted Charles for the second time on the day.

Moody led the Hilltoppers to victory as he rushed for 129 yards on 30 attempts and a third-quarter touchdown run.

In a losing effort, the Black and Gold defense surrendered only 216 yards on the day led by sophomore Cadarreus Mason and junior Rayvon Stanback.

Mason tallied nine tackles, eight solo stops, from his linebacker position while Stanback recorded five tackles and a sack and a half for the Black and Gold.

Senior safety Sean Rush and Stroman registered five tackles each from the secondary.

The Hilltoppers avenged last season's blowout loss to the Braves, when the Black and Gold defeated them 31-10 at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.

With the loss, the Braves were eliminated from playoff contention and finished the campaign with a 6-4 record.

Broken records

After breaking school records for career receptions, career touchdown receptions and career receiving yards earlier in the season, Williams continues to alter the UNCP record books.

Against West Liberty, the junior standout added four more school records to his historic season.

Williams' 162 receiving yards, original record was 153 yards, against the Hilltoppers was a program-best for receiving yards in a single game.

The Omaha native's 85-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter set the school record for longest touchdown reception by any Black and Gold receiver.

Williams also broke the single season record for receiving yards and touchdown receptions against West Liberty as he brought his season totals to 754 and 10, respectively.

The junior also snagged 53 receptions on the season, four short of a school record, despite missing the Braves' Oct. 20 contest against Carson-Newman.

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