WEST LIBERTY — It was a great homecoming for a former Ohio Valley High School quarterback on Saturday, but not a very happy homecoming for West Liberty.
Javon Davis, who stalled Steubenville Big Red with a quarterback to a 2017 Ohio Division IV state championship in 2017, was stuck at halftime at 21 and threw two of his career-best five touchdown passes after the halftime celebrations and the Wheeling University defense notched one Shutout in a 42-21 double by the Hilltoppers (4-4, 3-4) in front of a huge crowd at the sun-drenched West Family Stadium in the Mountain East Conference.
Davis began his college career at IUP before moving closer to home over the summer.
“It’s surreal. It was a great atmosphere here today.” Davis, who passed 313 yards for 16 of 24, said. “This was a great place to hit my career high but the most important thing is we won the game.”
Davis connected with Lowell Patron from 27 yards to start the second-half feast. St. Clairsville grad Matt Greenwood was perfect on the fourth of his half-dozen PAT kicks and it was 28-21 Cardinals with 3:30 in the third quarter.
With the Hilltoppers facing a third and eighth near midfield, Rudy Garcia’s pass down the middle was intercepted by Jayvon Johnson, who rumbled 48 yards down Paydirt as the lead climbed to 35-21 and just 33 ticks down the line third quarter o’clock were left .
In the third game of the fourth quarter, Johnson again stepped in front of an antenna from Garcia, returning it to the Hilltoppers’ 42.
It only took four games to reach the end zone when Davis impaled Chris Canaday on a 13-yard slant for six. Greenwood crowned the goal with 12 minutes remaining.
“At half-time we just had to keep going towards them” Davis said about the increase in the second half. “We did that offensively and our defense strengthened and made plays.”
Wheeling head coach Zac Bruney praised both Davis and Johnson for their ability to make plays.
“He played his best game in what is probably his biggest game. I know it meant a lot to him.” Bruney said about Davis. “”He knew a lot of the guys from that area that he was up against and he’s worked extremely hard to get better and he’s only gotten better as the season progressed. He plays really, really well.
“Jayvon made it big after taking a bit of a beating.” Bruney continued. “He was huge. They ran the ball behind a huge offensive line with (Quincy) Wimbush, but we made some adjustments and jumped a few routes at halftime. Jayvon is a senior and we have a couple of them now. I think our top management prevailed in the second half.”
Bruney said he couldn’t be happier for his team.
“I’m proud of our boys. It was, as always, a dogfight between these two rivals.” added Bruney. “We played more games than they did in the second half. I told our guys at half-time to be more consistent and we were in all three stages in the second half.”
In the first half, Davis teamed with Canaday on a 17-yard TD to open the goal and then found him for 57 after a 30-yard field goal from Justin Kaplan. Davis also connected with former Wheeling Park product Stevie Mitchell from 29 yards. Mitchell passed a West Liberty defender in the end zone for a highlight reel catch.
The Cardinals scored a 27-yard pass from Garcia to Chris Charles; a 5-yard scamper from Wimbush and a 27-yard three-pointer from Kaplan.
Wheeling Treks Concord on Saturday for a midday start. The Cardinals, Mountain Lions and Notre Dame College are all 5-2 in conference play. Meanwhile, West Liberty gass the bus for an 8-hour trip to UNC-Pembroke (4-4, 4-3) for a 2pm contest.
Wheeling 42, West Liberty 21
Rolls 14 7 14 7 – 42
West Liberty 11 10 0 0 – 21
W Patron 17 Pass by Jav. Davis (Greenwood kick)
WL Chaplain 30 FG
W-Canaday 57 pass by Jav. Davis (Greenwood kick)
WL-Charles 27 Pass by Garcia (Turner Run)
WL Chaplain 27 FG
W-Mitchell 29 pass by Jav. Davis (Greenwood kick)
WL-Wimbush 5 Run (Kaplan Kick)
W Patron 27 Pass by Jav. Davis (Greenwood kick)
W-Jay. Davis 48 INT Return (Greenwood Kick)
W-Canaday 13 pass by Jav. Davis (Greenwood kick)
RUSHING: Wheeling 25-112 (Alli 10-61, Young 6-46, White 2-14, Davis 3-8, Palmer 2-(-15). West Liberty 46-155-td (Wimbush 26-11-td, Barmer 4:26, Richards 1:18, Divas 4:4, Garcia 11-(-4)
OVERHAUL: Wheeling 16-24-313-5tds (all by Davis). West Liberty 17-36-213-td-3ints (Garcia 15-27-174-td-3ints, Divas 2-9-39)
GET: Wheeling 16-313-5tds (Canaday 5-114-2tds, Keenan 4-22, Patron 3-59-2tds, Alli 1-59, Griffin 1-32, Mitchell 1-29, Davis 1-(-2) West Liberty 17-213-td (Charles 7-85-td, Griffin 3-50, Wimbush 2-23, Bober 2-23, Harvey 2-19, Glover 1-12)
FIRST DOWNS: Wheeling 15. West Liberty 24
FUMBLE: Wheeling 1-0. West Liberty 4-0
PENALTIES: Wheeling 7-57. Western Freedom 6-44
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