Pass-happy West Lib plays Concord Saturday

Oct. 8—ATHENS — One of the nation's best collegiate passing offenses will face off with a stingy defense on Saturday as the Concord Mountain Lions host West Liberty on homecoming day in Athens.

Concord (1-3) gains an average of 362.5 yards per game through the air, currently third best in NCAA Division II. West Liberty (3-2) allows 206.2 passing yards on average this year and has crafted two shutout wins while collecting seven interceptions.

The Hilltoppers, going for their third straight win, present "a challenge," said Concord head coach Dave Walker. "They've gotten better each week."

Concord has not won its homecoming game since 2015, but those games were before Walker took over the CU football reins. He hopes the pomp and home-crowd spirit in Athens will make a difference for his team.

"This is my first homecoming at Concord University, but I hear it's a pretty big deal," the coach said. "I know the players are excited; I can tell. ... It may provide an extra incentive. We'll take anything we can get."

Concord wideout Tywan Pearce amassed 288 receiving yards and three touchdowns last weekend at Fairmont, the best yardage total in any NCAA college football game this season — and the most in a Division II game in four years.

Jack Mangel, Concord's quarterback, is second in Division II in passing yards per game. He's completed 63% of his pass attempts this season.

One of his top targets, sophomore Jarod Bowie, left the Fairmont game early with an injury. As of Wednesday, Bowie's status to play at homecoming was "questionable," Walker said.

Mangel will share the field Saturday with another Jack, West Liberty signal-caller Jack Allison. The current Hilltopper spent two years on the West Virginia Mountaineers squad.

Since transferring to WLU, Allison has passed for eight touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 1,047 yards.

This week, Pearce was named co-offensive player of the week in the Mountain East Conference and West Liberty's Trevor Hoosier was tabbed as the league's top defensive player. This season, Hoosier has 25 tackles, eight of them for a loss, plus two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble.

Concord netted 493 yards of offense last Saturday, but lost 31-27 at Fairmont State.

"It's frustrating, but you've got to keep going," Walker said.

"It's a process. You've just gotta keep working. ... I'm firm in our belief that we're headed in the right direction."

He said part of his job for his team is to "keep them grounded. Don't worry about the past."

"We're going to do what we do," the coach said. "We play within our scheme. Both teams will come in here well prepared, and aware of each other's strengths."

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on June O. Shott Field at Callaghan Stadium. Inductees into the CU athletics hall of fame will be recognized, and the homecoming court will be announced at halftime.