CARROLLTON, Ga. - Playoff hopes were on the line Saturday in Livingston, Alabama, as the West Georgia Wolves took on the West Alabama Tigers. The Wolves came out strong and held on for a 33-17 road victory over the Tigers.
Both teams came into the game with a 4-3 record on the season, knowing that another loss would spell the end of any playoff hopes for the 2019 season. The Wolves left Tiger Stadium with a 5-3 record overall and a 3-2 record against Gulf South Conference competition. The UWG defense held the Tigers to just 31 yards rushing on the day.
The Wolves came out firing to open the game, as senior quarterback Willie Candler connected with senior receiver John Hurst on the first play of the game for a 45-yard gain. West Georgia plowed down the field on the arm of Candler, as the senior was 3-for-3 on the drive, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Laperion Perry to give the Wolves an early 6-0 lead.
After an exchange of punts, the Wolves' Omar Cervantes punted to the Tigers, and the punt was muffed. West Georgia recovered at the UWA25, giving the ball back to Candler in scoring position. The Wolves took six plays to go 25 yards, ending with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Candler to Perry, giving the Wolves a 13-0 lead with 2:03 left in the opening quarter.
West Alabama responded with a long drive, going 83 yards on eight plays, finishing with a touchdown pass to cut into the UWG advantage at 13-7. The Wolves came right back, handing the ball to big Eric Swinney for several big gains. The drive stalled at the West Alabama 31, but Cervantes stepped up with a 49-yard field goal to put the Wolves up 16-7.
On the ensuing drive, Nasier Currie-Sudler picked off his third pass of the season, giving Candler and the offense the ball at midfield. The Wolves drove to the UWA 10 yard line before the drive stalled, but Cervantes stepped in again, nailing a 28-yard field goal for a 19-7 West Georgia lead with 3:26 left in the first half from Livingston.
The Tigers marched right back down the field, but the UWG defense stiffened at their own 22-yard line and Mike Miller knocked away a pass on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense just before halftime.
The Wolves outgained West Alabama 243-161 in the opening half, passing for 142 yards and running for 101 yards. Candler was 12-for 23 with one touchdown pass in the half to lead the offense. Swinney led the running game with five carries for 51 yards and Perry had two touchdown receptions. Hurst four receptions for 66 yards in the half, becoming the 16th receiver in school history with 1,000 career receiving yards in the process.
Coming out of the break at halftime, West Alabama put together an 8-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal from Tre Jackson, cutting the UWG lead to 19-10. The Wolves came right back, as Candler drove the Wolves down the field. The senior delivered with a huge run on fourth down and long, getting the first down, but went down with an injury on the play.
Redshirt freshman Garrett Bass came in and handed the ball off three times, just enough for Chauncey Williams to rushing for 21 yards and a touchdown to give the Wolves a 26-10 lead. West Alabama responded with a drive and a touchdown, cutting into the Wolves' lead at 26-17.
After a trade of possessions, Bass directed a beautiful drive, connecting with Quan Harrison for a 33-yard pass just before the end of the third quarter to give the Wolves a 33-17 advantage. The drive covered 75 yards and took seven plays and Omar Cervantes' extra point gave West Georgia the 16-point advantage.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, the Wolves and Tigers exchanged possessions back-and-forth, with both teams holding on fourth down in the final minutes of the contest.
West Georgia put up 491 yards of offense on the day with 271 yards through the air and 220 yards on the ground. Candler finished the day going 12-for-23 for 142 yards and a touchdown. Bass was 11-of-19 for 129 yards and a touchdown to close out the game. On the ground, Eric Swinney led the way with nine carries for 80 yards, but freshmen Rajaez Moseley added 13 carries for 53 yards and Chauncey Williams had 12 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. QUan Harrison led all UWG receivers with five receptions for 106 yards and a score.
The Wolves will be back at home next weekend, taking on the Mississippi College Choctaws on Hall of Fame Saturday at University Stadium. Kickoff for that one is set for 2 p.m.