CARROLLTON, Ga. – A second half shutout and an offensive clinic fueled the 25th-ranked UWG football team cruised to a 42-13 victory over arch rival Valdosta State in The Battle for the Peach Basket on Saturday afternoon at Ra-Lin Field.
Devontae Jackson had a career game with 170 yards on 21 carries, finding the end zone three times on the day. Jackson averaged 8.1 yards per carry and had a long of 47. Jackson becomes the first 100-yard rusher of the season for West Georgia.
Jackson wasn’t the only UWG player to have a big day as the Wolves combined for 550 yards of total offense including 259 on the ground. Quarterback Willie Candler was 16-of-24 on the day with 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The defense showed out, not allowing an offensive touchdown on the day, and keeping the Blazers off the scoreboard in the second half. UWG held the Blazers to 6-for-17 on third down conversions. Malcolm Penny led the defensive effort with nine total tackles on the day including three solo stops.
West Georgia forced a punt on VSU’s opening drive and then took the ball and drove 91 yards in nine plays for the touchdown as Candler found Shaq Roland right under the goal post from two yards out for the early 7-0 lead after a successful Trey Wiggins extra point.
After the Wolves forced a three-and-out, the Blazers punted and three plays later, lightning struck in the form of Devontae Jackson as the junior running back went 47 yards for the touchdown to make it a 14-0 game at the 5:58 mark of the first quarter.
Valdosta State took the ensuing drive and drove down the field to get on the board with a 37-yard Andrew Gray field goal.
UWG would be forced to punt on the next drive, but VSU would block the attempt and return it for their first touchdown of the game, making it 14-10, UWG with 12:39 remaining in the half.
DeNiko Carter gave the Wolves a big spark to swing momentum back in UWG’s favor as he took a short pass from Candler, made a move and then scampered in for the 32-yard score to make it a 21-10 game at the 9:06 mark of the second quarter.
The Blazers would add another field goal late in the half, making it 21-13.
West Georgia took the first drive of the second half 74 yards in 10 plays and capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run by Tyler Queen to stretch the lead to 28-13 early in the second half.
The UWG offense got the ball back after the Wolves’ defense got a stop on fourth and short and then drove 73 yards in four plays to add another score as Devontae Jackson ran in his second of the day, this one from 11 yards out to stretch the lead to 22 points.
Jackson added his third touchdown of the game at the 10:40 mark of the fourth quarter, running it in from two yards out to make it a 42-13 game.
The win improves the Wolves to 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in Gulf South Conference play. VSU falls to 1-3 on the year and 1-2 in the GSC.
UWG takes back to the road next week with a big showdown with the Tigers of West Alabama. Kickoff for that game is set for 5 p.m. EST.