CARROLLTON, Ga. – Fifth-ranked West Georgia dominated every facet of the game Saturday at University Stadium, as the Wolves defeated North Greenville 31-7 in Gulf South Conference football action.
West Georgia scored 31 unanswered points in the first three quarters of the contest, including one defensive touchdown and rattled off 24 first-half points in their dismantling of North Greenville, who was previously unbeaten in league play.
The offensive numbers for the Wolves were impressive for the second straight week, going for 507 yards of total offense and marking the third time this season that West Georgia has had 500 yards of offense in a game. Head coach David Dean used a balanced attack of 283 yards on the ground and 224 through the air to move to 6-0 on the year and 3-0 in GSC play.
The UWG defense held the Crusaders to just 171 yards of total offense with 119 of those coming on the ground. NGU did not eclipse the 100 yard mark of total offense until the fourth quarter.
The two teams traded possessions to open the game, with North Greenville punter Bobby Foos pinning the Wolves at their own two. That didn't seem to faze Willie Candler and the UWG offense, as the Wolves went 98 yards in 11 plays for game’s opening touchdown, scoring on a nine-yard run by Candler. The West Georgia signal-caller was the story of the drive, going 3-for-5 for 26 yards and rushing three times for 55 yards.
After the two squads traded punts, the Wolves started another drive with a short field after a penalty from North Greenville gave West Georgia the ball at the NGU 15. The Wolves moved to the four yard line, but the drive stalled there, as UWG added to the lead with a 21-yard field goal from Omar Cervantes, giving West Georgia a 10-0 lead with 10:24 left in the second quarter.
On North Greenville’s next drive, the UWG defense got in on the scoring as Barron Burns intercepted Will Hunter’s pass and returned it 47 yards for the first defensive touchdown of the 2018 season, stretching the lead to 17-0 just over midway through the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, All-GSC special teams man Tevin Isom pinned the Crusaders deep, bringing down the NGU return man at the 11. North Greenville then marched to midfield before the drive stalled out, forcing a punt. Two plays into the Wolves' drive after that punt, freshman running back Christian Royalston continued the onslaught, this time showing off his speed with a 71-yard touchdown romp to give the Wolves a 24-0 lead heading into the locker room at the half.
Coming out of the halftime break, West Georgia forced an NGU punt on the Crusaders’ first drive of the third quarter, and the Wolves then marched 81 yards in 12 plays while eating up over seven minutes of game time. That scoring drive culminated in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Candler to Brandon Walton.
The Crusaders scored their first and only touchdown of the game on their own 11-yard pass from Will Hunter to Christian Bruce to cut it to the final margin of 31-7 with 6:54 to play in the game.
Candler was 20-for-30 in the game with 211 passing yards and the one touchdown, but also was the leading rusher with 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Christian Royalston had 74 yards rushing on three carries with a touchdown. The Crusaders keyed on Devontae Jackson for the duration of the game, but the senior still rushed 18 times for 65 yards.
Twelve different players caught a pass on the afternoon, led by senior Emoni Williams with five catches. Senior Malik Henry led the Wolves in receiving yards with 40 on two receptions.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Anthony Fotu led the Wolves with five tackles. The defensive front led the way, as junior defensive end Chad Price had four and made the opposing quarterback’s day a rough one with a pair of sacks.
A Deeper Look
This is the third game with 500 or more yards for West Georgia, but the Wolves came close in one other contest, racking up 496 yards at Albany State ... Barron Burns kept a streak going for the Wolves with his touchdown. West Georgia has now had a non-offensive touchdown in five-straight games ... Willie Candler's streak of four-straight games with three touchdown passes was snapped, as the Wolves scored on two rushing touchdowns, an interception, and one passing score ...
West Georgia takes a trip to Pensacola, Florida for a rematch of last year’s second-round playoff matchup with West Florida. Kickoff for that contest at Blue Wahoos Stadium is set for 7 p.m. EST.