GLENVILLE -- Glenville State was the team to beat in the West Virginia Conference about a decade ago, but since Paul Shaffner has taken over the reins of the program the Pioneers haven't had a definitive win.
The second-year head coach and his talented but recently troubled squad pulled off the biggest school victory in recent years Saturday afternoon, shocking 12th-ranked Shepherd 28-21 at Morris Stadium.
The GSC homecoming victory was in doubt until the closing moments when a fortuitous deflection gave the Pioneers their victory margin. Glenville wide receiver Lance Linden, who as a senior had never tasted victory against Shepherd (6-1), was in the right spot when a pass from Jack Mental ricocheted off of Cedric Bryant's shoulderpads and into his arms for a 20-yard TD. Just 1:19 remained at that point, and when the final gun sounded a wild celebration ensued.
"That was crazy," said Linden. "It was a big surprise and I just had to take a couple steps forward."
What's even more amazing is that a week ago Glenville was hammered by WVU-Tech, 62-0.
The Pioneers certainly played hard Saturday if not always efficiently. They led 14-0 at the intermission and 21-0 after a Shepherd turnover early in the third period. Shepherd, though, with a perfect record and national ranking at stake, fought back to knot the score up at 21-21 with just 9:31 to play.
Glenville could have taken the edge with six minutes to go, but a 38-yard field goal attempt by Chris Owens was blocked. However, the Rams coughed the football up and when the Pioneers got it back they eventually benefited from a roughing the punter call, saving their winning drive from overtime.
"What a great, great game," said Shaffner. "You can't ask for anything better than this one. That was a tremendous effort by a team that was coming out of the rough and there in the second half we could have caved but the team hung tough and played together."
Coming into the season, Shaffner had declared he'd rather be lucky than good this year but also stated, "when you work hard enough the lucky bounces will seem to come your way."
The game was extremely physical as indicated by the numerous 15-yard penalties for late hits. The two squads combined to commit 23 penalties for 227 yards.
"You have to give Glenville credit," said Shepherd coach Monte Cater. "We had some chances there in the second half, but we lost some of our poise and didn't get it done when we had to.
"But I'm proud of the kids for competing hard, which they did. As bad a first half as we had, we still had a chance to win the game."
n WVU TECH 35, West Liberty 34: In West Liberty, Eric Smith threw the game winning touchdown pass to Michael Terrell with 16 seconds left to lead WVU Tech to a victory over West Liberty.
WVU Tech now is in a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Shepherd and Glenville State. Meanwhile, West Liberty, West Virginia State and Fairmont State are tied for fourth place.
n W. VIRGINIA ST. 51, Concord 28: In Athens, Kerrick Cooper passed for 258 yards and five touchdowns to lead West Virginia State to a victory over Concord.
Cooper had touchdown passes of 20, 20, 16 and 51 yards, including a 3-yard pass to open the scoring for State (4-3, 2-2 West Virginia Conference). He completed 18-of-35 passes.
Josh Aliveto completed 27-of-59 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Concord (1-6, 0-4). Both TD passes were to Kory Wright, one for 25 yards and the other 11 yards with 3:40 left in the game to end the scoring at 51-28. Wright had 105 yards on 10 carries. State lead the entire game.