CARROLLTON, Ga. – The Gulf South Conference slate started on the right foot on Saturday, as the eighth-ranked West Georgia Wolves used a fourth-quarter comeback at University Stadium to beat Florida Tech 30-21 on Ra-Lin Field.
In what was a close game for much of the afternoon, the Wolves outscored Florida Tech 23-7 in the second half and kept the Panthers off the scoreboard in the final quarter to move to 4-0 on the year and knock FIT from the ranks of the unbeaten. The Wolves amassed 374 yards of total offense on the afternoon, while Florida Tech finished with 332.
Willie Candler threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns on the day, with Malik Henry being his top target. Henry hauled in five catches for 74 yards and two scores, adding 51 yards on punt returns as well. On the ground, Christian Royalston led with 58 yards while Candler rushed for 37.
Defensively, Montrell Pardue and Korie Rogers each had nine tackles to lead the way. Ashton Jackson had the lone takeaway for UWG, intercepting a pass in the end zone to seal the deal with less than a minute left.
Both teams mirrored each other on the stat sheet in the first quarter, playing to a 7-7 tie after 15 minutes. Each team’s touchdown came from long passes as Florida Tech opened the scoring with a 31-yard pass from Trent Chmelik to Romell Guerrier. West Georgia then responded with a solid drive, capped off by a 33-yard pass from Willie Candler to Malik Henry.
Midway through the second quarter, Chmelik found Guerrier for the second time, putting FIT back up by a score. The Wolves had a chance to tie it up as time expired, but Candler’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete.
Just as he did last week against ASU, LaPerion Perry opened the second half with some fireworks as he took the opening kick 96 yards to the house to the tie things up at 14-14.
Florida Tech then responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with
The UWG special teams unit then made a pair of plays that led to points as Christian Ramirez used the leg to pin the Panthers back at their own three. After the defense forced a three-and-out, Malik Henry took the punt 35 yards to set it up at the 11. The Wolves couldn’t find the end zone, but Omar Cervantes connected on a 21-yard field goal to make it a 21-17 FIT lead.
After another three-and-out by the Wolves defense, Candler found Henry for the second time of the day, this one a 10-strike that gave the Wolves their first lead of the game at 24-21 at the 13:54 mark of the final quarter.
West Georgia would add to the lead when Emoni Williams took Candler’s shovel pass around the left side for the four-yard score. The failed PAT accounted for the nine-point difference.
It’s back to the road next week for West Georgia as the Wolves make the short trip to Rome to take on the Shorter Hawks. Kickoff from Barron Stadium next Saturday is slated for 1 p.m.