"Honestly, West Virginia State came out with a lot of emotion,'' said Kirkland, "and I think we did too, but we didn't really execute real well. I thought after that, we settled down and did a nice job. Really, through quarters two and three, we did some great things on both sides of the ball.''
The Jackets, said first-year coach Jon Anderson, started well.
"I thought our kids responded to what we asked them to do early on,'' said Anderson. "We asked them to match [UC's] physical play on both sides of the football. We asked them to come out swinging, play with confidence, and I was proud of the way our kids did that in the first half.''
But Coleman's interception seemed to make a difference.
"Hassan Coleman is a senior DB who's been pretty clutch for us in the last few years,'' said Kirkland. "He made a big play and kind of jump-started the offense a little bit.''
Said Anderson, "We need to find ways as a team to be more resilient during momentum swings, and we always talk about weathering the storm and being able to play through that. We have at times, and at other times we have not. As we mature as a football team, the guys will have confidence, the guys will be able to do that better. And as a coach, I need to do a better job of putting them in those situations during practice and talk about them during the week.''
State scored on Josh Reuber's 38-yard field goal with 4:32 left in the third quarter and on reserve quarterback D'Von Dorsey's 9-yard TD run with 1:24 left in the game.
In addition to Leak's 221 passing yards, the Golden Eagles picked up 193 on the ground, led by Knox's 57 on six carries, C.J. Stallworth's 56 on 14 and Leighton Settle's 46 on 12.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.