FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Former Kennedy Award winner, Connor Neal, made his first collegiate start last week.
Neal and the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons came up short against California, PA in Fairmont State’s first game in 658 days.
Neal started under center, and completed the first pass of his college career. He also threw the first touchdown pass of his career, too, doing so on a beautiful deep ball to Shawn Harris, which pulled the Fighting Falcons back to within six points.
“It was crazy. It was good to get the first one out of the way. Now we just keep moving on from there, hopefully a couple more,” Neal said when asked his thoughts of his first start and touchdown pass. “From the defensive look we got, I just knew we had a one-on-one with Shawn, he’s one of our better jump ball receivers, so I gave him a chance and he made a great play.”
Neal completed nine of his 19 pass attempts for 103 yards and the Harris touchdown on Thursday. He was also sacked five times.
Neal admitted the pace and speed of college football was much quicker than the competition he went up against at Fairmont Senior. However, now that he’s gotten his first start out of the way there’s finally a base of game knowledge for Neal and his team to work off of.
“Our biggest thing is just keeping our timing down, making sure we’re getting the ball out, getting in our right spots, and making plays still,”
Neal was one of many players who suited up for the Fighting Falcons on Thursday with no prior college football experience. Neal redshirted his freshman year in 2019, and of course, no Division-II college football was played last fall.
Asked what’s the thing that jumped out the most when looking at the tape, Neal said: “There’s definitely a lot of things I need to improve on. Just seeing the defense a little better, seeing the speed of the game, seeing rotations and things like that.”
It’s another tough test for Neal and Fairmont State coming up this week, as they travel to the state capital to take on the University of Charleston, which has not yet played this season.