All the Roughriders needed was some Love
WHEELING — Indoor football is supposed to be all about putting points on the board and people in the seats.
Somebody forgot to inform the West Virginia Roughriders of the former.
With nose guard Harold Love, a Bethune Cookman alum, leading the way, the Roughriders (3-0) pitched a shutout in the first half Monday night, en route to a 51-30, non-conference victory over visiting Carolina (0-1) before a decent crowd inside WesBanco Arena.
Love, who spent more time in the Wildcats’ backfield than their quarterback and running back, recorded 4.5 of the Roughriders’ six quarterback sacks. He also was in on numerous tackles and teamed with former Bridgeport standout Cole Smelley on a fourth-quarter safety. Linebacker Brian Price returned an interception for six points, and defensive end Larry Ford rambled 12 yards to paydirt with a fumble recovery.
“Honestly, I got a dude like Larry (Ford) beside of me, and we’ve got a great defensive scheme,” Love said. “That allows me to go every play, so it’s just the scheme.”
When informed of his unofficial sack total, Love said, ‘Woo. That ain’t bad. I had fun tonight.”
Smelley had the remaining 1.5 quarterback sacks, as the Roughriders limited the Wildcats to 36 yards of offense in the first half, while building a 28-0 lead.
“We wanted to go for a shutout,” Love said. “Defensively, I think we are a little disappointed because they scored 30 points. That’s the most we’ve given up this season, so we’ve got a lot of work to do before Friday.”
Head coach Mook Zimmerman agreed with Love’s analysis.
“(Harold) Love is a fantastic player,” Zimmerman said. “We had a goose egg at halftime, and I told the guys I’d like to finish that way. But, it’s tough to do that in this league. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
With starting quarterback Jarrett Brown sidelined with an undisclosed day-to-day injury, newly signed Jeremy Johnson (from Auburn) took over on the Roughriders’ second series of the game. He finished with three touchdown passes and one rushing. He went 10 of 14 for 74 yards.
“Johnson played well. That was a highlight for us on offense,” Zimmerman said.
Noel Devine put the hosts on top with a 10-yard scamper around right end just less than two minutes into the contest. Strong-legged Anthony Prevost booted the first of his seven PATs, as West Virginia led 7-0 after one quarter. Devine caught a 7-yard scoring strike in the third quarter.
The Roughriders sandwiched a pair of Johnson TD passes — 15 yards to Larry Beavers Jr. and seven yards to former Madonna standout Connor Arlia — around Price’s pick-six, as the margin ballooned to 28-0 at the half.
Zimmerman wasn’t pleased with his team’s play in the second half and the amount of penalties it committed.
“I think we let off the gas a little, and I’m not happy with that,” he said. “I’m not pleased at all.”
However, like any good coach, he’ll take the win and look on to the next game.
“I’m excited that we’re 3-0. We’ll take wins any way we can get them” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, we’re very excited to be 3-0, but I tell the guys I don’t want to be 13-0. I want to be 1-0 13 times.”
Carolina, which competes in the Elite Indoor Football League, finished with 141 yards of total offense. West Virginia had 175.
¯ Former Steubenville standout JeR’yl Christian has joined the Roughriders after playing for Amarillo for the last four years. He carried the ball three times for 27 yards, including a 25-yard jaunt.
¯ Bellaire and Penn State legend Lance Mehl served as the honorary official during the pre-game coin toss.
¯ Martins Ferry native Matt Van Fossen sang the national anthem and performed at halftime. The Wheeling Police Department Color Guard presented the colors.
¯ Carolina replaced the Youngstown Federals, who had player issues, according to reports.
¯ West Virginia plays Friday inside L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon against the West Michigan Ironmen. The next home game is April 26 against the New England Bobcats.