Western football pulled off yet another come from behind victory this season, as they turned a 17-6 halftime deficit into a 25-17 statement road victory.
Western came into this matchup boasting one of the top rushing attacks in the conference, gaining just over 237 yards per game on the ground, while only allowing 132 rushing yards per game.
After a couple weeks of strong offensive performances by the Griffons, they came out of the gate relatively sluggish in the first half, only gaining 44 yards on the ground for the entire first half. The defense was also struggling to get many stops, allowing the Lopers offense to move the ball up and down the field en route to the 17-6 halftime lead.
After halftime, however, Western flipped the script and turned up the intensity, changing the course of the entire game.
As has been a theme for them throughout this season, Western stayed tough and battled back from adversity to claw their way back into the ballgame. The defense tightened up and put the clamps on the Lopers offense, surrendering only 84 rushing yards in the second half compared to 192 in the first half.
Senior James Huskey led the team with eleven total tackles, including eight solo tackles and one tackle for loss, while senior Jabbar Miles added an additional ten tackles of his own. Juniors Vayante Copeland and Anthony Williams each snagged an interception, with Wilson also adding seven tackles. Western also forced and recovered a fumble.
“Today validated once again that, when we are executing in all aspects of the game, we can play with any team in the MIAA,” freshman Kobe Cummings said. “It is just about coming out in the first half ready to execute and compete from the first whistle to the last.”
Offensively, Western was able to get their ground game going, with freshman James Bailey Jr. rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, and senior Dom Marino adding another 65 on the ground.
“This win was actually one of the best team wins I’ve ever been apart of. The offense could have not scored without the defense getting the last couple of stops, so we were relying on the defense,” Bailey said. “After the stop, the defense was relying on us to get the score. It was amazing. We were really united yesterday. It was a great feeling and shows we have a lot of fight in us.”
Marino also had the passing game rolling in this one, completing 13 of 23 attempts for 172 yards and a touchdown through the air. Senior Keylan Mack snagged seven passes for a season-high 91 yards.
“Can’t say enough about how proud I am to be a part of our team. I’ve never seen such a collective unit of unselfishness in my life,” Marino said. “That’s what gives us a shot, man. We know that we have each other.
This is Western’s sixth win of the season, guaranteeing the first winning season for the program since 2015.
Western (6-4) will aim for their seventh win of the season in their regular season finale this Saturday as they host Lindenwood University (3-7) on Senior Day. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 pm.