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Talented Bears mow down UWA Tigers

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Nov. 10, 2002
LIVINGSTON, Ala. Saturday afternoon's Gulf South Conference game here at Tiger Stadium matched the nation's No. 2 against the No. 4 passing offenses in Division II.
That's where the similarities pretty much end. Directing the offense for the Central Arkansas Bears was former University of Arkansas quarterback Zak Clark. Clark won eight of his 12 starts for the Razorbacks and was the starter for last January's Cotton Bowl.
On Saturday, Clark was busy carving up an over-matched West Alabama defense. Clark had a rather pedestrian day hitting on 20-of-26 passes for 213 yrds, about 105 less than his season average.
Still, the Bears were smiling because they had 47 points on the board compared to West Alabama's 7. The lopsided win moves Central Arkansas to 7-3 on the season and 5-3 in the GSC.
For West Alabama, it was the team's second straight lackluster game after playing the league's top team in Valdosta State so well in a 43-31 loss.
The fact that the Bears had a SEC quarterback at the controls, along with left tackle who suited up for Southern California, proved that talent can make a big difference.
The Tigers finished with 273 yards passing, just 43 behind its No. 4 ranked average. But UWA suffered five turnovers including two interceptions and three lost fumbles.
None may have been more damaging than a lost fumble off a kickoff return after the Tigers were already down 14-0.
The Bears' Cortney Richardson recovered Kyle Henderson's fumble at the UWA 16. It took five plays for UCA to get back in the endzone with the score coming on a 4-yard TD run by Shaun Mitchell. The TD would be the second of four rushing scores on the day for Mitchell.
Garrett Morgan's kick made it 21-0 on the final play of the first quarter.
West Alabama came back with its only scoring drive of the game. The Tigers marched 91 yards in nine plays. Brett Gilliland fired a 30-yard TD pass to Henderson for the score. Ben Thoma's kick made it 21-7 with 11:35 left in the second quarter.
Clark brought the Bears right back to the endzone. UCA covered 65 yards in five plays getting the touchdown on a 42-yard pass from Clark to former East Mississippi receiver John Miller of Macon. Morgan's kick upped the Bears lead to 28-7 with 9:28 left in the half.
Pippin said he was still optimistic at the half that his team could rally.
But there would no comeback today. Clark and the Bears put it away with a third quarter touchdown. His 28-yard pass to Landon Trusty set up a 9-yard TD run by Mitchell, his third of the day. Morgan's kick made it 35-7 with 7:12 left in the third quarter.
Central added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Altrikii Brown scored on a 2-yard run to cap an 8-play, 59-yard march with 14:13 left in the game.
Mitchell then got his fourth touchdown with 2:57 left on a 1-yard run to cap a 9-play, 67-yard march. Both PAT kicks in the fourth quarter were no good to make the final 47-7.
The Bears got their first touchdown on a great diving catch of 15 yards by Steven Nolan on a pass by Clark. Morgan's kick made it 7-0 with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
A short UWA punt had the Bears only having to travel 41 yards for the second touchdown which came on a 11-yard reverse run by Mitchell. Morgan's kick made it 14-0 with 3:02 left in the opening quarter.
Gales had 64 yards receiving while Northeast Lauderdale product Centel Truman had 21 yards off three catches.
The Bears finished with 492 yards in total offense including 218 rushing. Mitchell had a game high 145 yards off 26 carries.
West Alabama, now 4-6 overall and 2-6 in the GSC, will close out its season next week when North Alabama visits.