The prospect of postseason play should add to UC's motivation today, said State coach Earl Monroe.
"They're playing well, and I think they still have a chance to go to the playoffs, so they still have a lot to play for,'' he said.
Teams are chosen for the postseason not only on their won-lost records but their strength of schedule. The Golden Eagles own two nonconference victories - over Shaw University of Raleigh, N.C., and UNC-Pembroke - that bolster their case, Kirkland said.
"We had a few good ones,'' he said. "We beat a Shaw team that had a couple big wins and almost a couple more big wins early in the year. And at the time when we beat UNC-Pembroke, they were in the top 25 in the country. That was a big win for us. We're in the top few in our region in what they call the OWP, which is your opponents' winning percentage.''
West Virginia State has lost five straight and ranks last in the conference in scoring at 17.8 points a game and last in points allowed at 40.4.
"We've moved the ball fairly consistently the last few weeks,'' said Monroe, "but we've had problems in the red zone. For whatever reason, we can't get the ball in the end zone. We have turnovers or costly penalties or something like that. That's been plaguing us quite a bit the last few weeks. The guys are still practicing hard and playing hard. We met at 7 a.m. [Tuesday] on defense and met at 7 a.m. [Wednesday] on offense. We're still fighting every week to try to win.''
The Super Region 1 playoff is one of four six-team playoffs in Division II's 24-team postseason championship.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.