PEMBROKE, N.C. - The West Liberty University football team closed out the 2011 season Saturday with a 31-10 loss to a regionally-ranked North Carolina-Pembroke squad.
The Braves (8-3), ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division II Super Region 2, were able to take a 17-0 lead in the third quarter after the Hilltoppers (1-10) had come away empty-handed in their first two trips into the UNC-Pembroke red zone.
Jeff Hoak finally put West Liberty on the scoreboard with a 42-yard field goal - his longest of the season - to cut the lead to 17-3 at the 2:22 mark of the third quarter.
The Braves missed a long field goal attempt on the ensuing possession and the Hilltoppers drove back down into UNC-Pembroke territory only to see the drive short-circuited by Justin Bullard, who intercepted a WLU pass at his own 34 and ran it all the way back to the West Liberty 42.
That set up a 26-yard scoring pass from Luke Charles to Michael Isbell to give the Braves a three-touchdown lead, 24-3, with just 7:37 left to play.
The Hilltoppers offense couldn't move the sticks and the hosts' Darcus Elliott put the game on ice when he blocked the punt by West Liberty's Griffin Yocum and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Hilltoppers answered with an 11-play, 76-yard scoring march - capped by Brandon Davis's 9-yard TD scamper - but it was too little, too late.
West Liberty rushed for 88 yards on 34 carries and added 235 more through the air with quarterback L.D. Crow completing 24 of 44 passes with 2 interceptions.
Sophomore WR Brandon Schroeder provided a bright spot for West Liberty, going over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a game-high 9 catches for 94 yards. True freshman Alex Adams impressed in his first career start with 16 carries for 52 yards.
UNC-Pembroke TB Travis Daniels, the nation's fifth-leading rusher, racked up 159 yards on 28 carries as the hosts rushed for 237 yards on 46 attempts. Charles completed 11 of 21 passes for 185 yards with 2 TDs and an interception.