West Alabama hangs on to beat West Georgia
By By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
Oct. 20, 2002
LIVINGSTON, Ala. Usually two teams don't learn the same lesson in the same game, but here on Saturday afternoon West Georgia and West Alabama both learned "It's not over til it's over."
West Alabama jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the third quarter before West Georgia came storming back to take a lead in the fourth. The Tigers then made a comeback as quarterback Brett Gilliland hit Gerald Gales on 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:36 left to give West Alabama a dramatic 35-32 win.
West Georgia was able to drive down the field after the touchdown pass but missed a 44-yard field goal with three seconds left. With the win, West Alabama moves to 4-3 and 2-3 in Gulf South Conference play. The Braves of West Georgia drop to 3-4 and 1-4 on the year.
The Tigers jumped out to a lead in the first quarter. Gilliland hit Presley Gilmore on a five-yard pass to point UWA on the board. The PAT by Ben Thoma made the score 7-0 with 8:35 left in the first.
West Alabama added to the lead in the second quarter. Gilliland found Gales on a 35-yard completion to move the ball deep into West Georgia territory and Gilmore finished off the possession with a 13-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-0.
The Braves threatened in the final minutes after recovering a fumble on the UWA 45, but the drive stalled and Clay Robertson missed a 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
UWA struck early in the second half to extend the lead. Gales broke free behind great blocking for a 63-yard punt return touchdown. The PAT gave UWA a 21-0 lead. The return was also the ninth longest in school history.
The Braves came back with a huge third quarter, however. West Georgia recovered a fumble at the UWA 23 and after a personal foul call, Lucas McMichen found Joey Steadman on a nine-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 21-7 with 6:43 left in the third.
West Georgia kicked an on-side kick on the kickoff and recovered it at its own 46. Minutes later Brandon Glover powered in from a yard out to make the score 21-14.
Glover also scored on another one-yard run to cap off a 10-play 77-yard drive with 13:20 left in the game. The PAT was missed and UWA held on to a 21-20 lead.
The Tigers came back with an impressive 14-play 80-yard drive to extend the lead. Derick Spellers scored on a 32-yard run to give West Alabama a 28-20 lead.
The eight-point lead didn't last long as Detronn Harris took the ensuing kickoff and went 99 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed to make the score 28-26.
A 37-yard punt return by Marquis Floyd set up another West Georgia touchdown. The Braves took possession at the UWA 28 after the return and scored on the next play as Glover broke free on a 28-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion again failed and West Georgia held a 32-28 lead.
The Tigers came back on their next possession and drove all the way down to the UWG seven-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
West Georgia was unable to move the ball against the UWA defense and was forced to punt. A 26-yard punt gave the Tigers good field position and they took advantage of it. Gales caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Gilliland on West Alabama's second play to give UWA a 35-32 lead with 1:36 to play.
Gales finished the game with 13 catches for 148 yards while Gilliland was 35-for-47 and passed for 375 yards, which was seventh most in school history.
Robertson's field goal at the end of the game went wide left and the Tigers held on for the win.
The Tigers will travel to play powerful Valdosta State next weekend at 12 p.m.