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Glenville State hits road to face UNC Pembroke

GLENVILLE — When it comes to college football and the first game of the year, things rarely go as planned.

That was definitely the case when Glenville State head coach Mike Kellar’s squad survived Concord, 17-10, a week ago Thursday inside Morris Stadium.

Now, the G-men (1-0, 1-0) will make their first road trip of the campaign when they head for a 6 p.m. clash today with UNC Pembroke (1-1, 1-0) at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.

“That’s the biggest thing is just dealing with the logistics and the road trip and getting them on the road,” noted Kellar, who watched Timothy Heltzel hit 14 of 25 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown in relief of injured starter DeAndre Clayton. “It’s an overnight game. A lot goes into this.

“They are a veteran team, really big offensive line and their transfer from Marshall (Joseph Early) is a legit running back in this league. Their quarterback, I think, is a fifth-year senior. He’s just a good football player and that’s probably the biggest thing we got to deal with, a senior quarterback who isn’t going to get rattled and puts his team in a position to win.”

The Braves had their Sept. 4 opener at Winston-Salem State canceled and then took a forfeit win last Saturday against W.Va. Wesleyan before picking up Findlay for a road tilt, which resulted in a 34-28 overtime setback.

Pembroke, which was picked fourth in the Mountain East Conference preseason poll compared to GSC being tabbed eighth, was led by Jones in the defeat. He completed 27 of 48 passes for 368 yards with three touchdowns against one interception. Early didn’t see the field and Jones actually led the team with 31 rushing yards. Trey Dixon (7-91-2) and C.J. Davis (6-70-1) were his top targets.

Expected Pioneer starting tailback Alfred Menjor hurt his knee in practice the week of the Concord game and wasn’t available. Mark Shepherd, Nyle Ervin and Bernard Dankyi combined to rush 24 times for 70 yards versus the Mountain Lions.

Shepherd scored the Pioneers’ first six-pointer of the year and the hosts led 10-3 entering the fourth after a 28-yard Josh Jones field goal in the third quarter. GSC got the game-winning touchdown not quite midway through the fourth when Heltzel hit Tre Gulley on a 25-yard TD strike. Javon Butler led the G-men with 11 grabs or 147 yards.

“Javon is a good football player, a guy not having him this past spring was tough on us,” Kellar admitted. “That’s the first game he’s played since the 2019 season. They couldn’t cover him. They had two or three pass interferences where they basically tackled him.

“We’re going to need him to continue to play a big part of this offense. We do have some multiple weapons. A quarterback’s best friend is a good run game when you’re on the road in a hostile environment. They are very clever with what they do with their coverage schemes.”

Jonathan St. Jacque not only registered a quartet of sacks against Concord, but he also forced a pair of fumbles. Isaiah Macklin also had a forced fumble in the win. Shaun Sterling, who joined Brandon Penn with an interception, led the defense with 11 total tackles. Seth Arnold had nine stops and Jaylen Jones eight.

“Last fall we decided to move him to linebacker and he played linebacker for us this spring, and over the summer I met with the defensive staff and I said I think he’s a defensive end,” Kellar noted of St. Jacque. “The game is simple for him where he can use his speed and run down things from behind, and he’s really good at rushing the passer. I think he wanted to stay at linebacker and we convinced him it’s best for the team and I think he realizes it’s best for the team and him. He had a great ball game.”

Coach Kellar, who also got a sack apiece from Ellis Lilly and Max Boyd last week, knows the offense can’t afford to get into third-and-long situations tonight.

“If we get to throw the ball when we want to and we get the run game going, I think we’ll be in good shape,” said the coach, who added of Rick Trickett’s offensive line “I don’t know if he’s every happy (with their play). He’s definitely never satisfied. We got two or three key guys that haven’t played for us up front yet.

“We’ve been a little bit of a mash unit up front moving some guys around. I was proud of the way the kids played and I think Concord had 10 or 11 starters back on defense. The biggest thing is can we take care of that football and play the way we need to play.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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