CARROLLTON, Ga. – With 24 seconds left in the game, junior cornerback Jakyron Young intercepted Florida Tech senior quarterback Mark Cato, then weaved 42 yards to paydirt, putting West Georgia up 20-13 and sealing the Wolves’ eighth victory of the year at Panther Stadium in Melbourne, Fla.
Defense was the name of the game on the afternoon, as the Wolves allowed just 172 yards in a superb performance, but the capper was Young’s pick-6. That marks the second-straight game for West Georgia with an interception returned for a touchdown, as Zed Brown had one last week against Shorter.
The game started on a negative note for the West Georgia Wolves, as FIT returned the opening kickoff into West Georgia territory, then a facemask penalty gave the Panthers the ball at the UWG25 to start the first drive of the game. Mark Cato and the Florida Tech offense took the ball all 25 yards, scoring on a nine-yard touchdown pass to Demetrious Frazier for a 6-0 lead with 13:41 left in the first quarter.
That’s how it stayed for the remainder of the first half, as both defenses allowed the opposing offense to just 77 total yards in the period. West Georgia sophomore quarterback Willie Candler was 10-for-15 in the half for 51 yards. The biggest change for the two offenses was in the battle of the top-two running backs in the Gulf South Conference. FIT’s Antwaun Haynes, coming into the game averaging 103 yards per game, had 18 yards on eight carries in the opening half. West Georgia’s Devontae Jackson, averaging 90 yards per game, had 19 yards on nine carries.
In the second half, the Wolves marched down the field on the first drive of the third quarter, but were forced to settle for a Trey Wiggins field goal. The freshman made the score 6-3 in favor of Florida Tech, capping a 14-play, 72-yard drive that took up 5:32 to open the third quarter.
The score would again remain the same until the 13:23 mark of the fourth quarter, when Cato completed a 76-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Brian Spurgeon, giving Florida Tech a 13-3 lead, and with the offensive woes of the Wolves thus far, things looked bleak.
But Candler and the UWG offense went into overdrive at that point, blasting down the field for 60 yards in eight plays, taking up only 1:36 on the clock. Candler capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run, making it 13-10 with 11:47 left in the game.
The two teams traded the ball back-and-forth, and the Wolves took over for one last chance to tie or take the lead with 2:46 left in the contest. Candler marched West Georgia down to the Florida Tech seven yard line, but the drive stalled there, and Trey Wiggins hit a 23-yard field goal to tie the contest at 13-13.
On the ensuing possession, Cato was incomplete on the first two passes of the drive, but on third down, Young jumped the route and picked the ball clean at the 42, then raced down the sideline. Cato cut off the run and Young doubled back to the middle of the field, slipped between two offensive lineman and high-stepped into the end zone for the winning score.
The 172 yards allowed by the Wolves on the day was the second-lowest of the year for head coach David Dean’s team. The lowest was against Mississippi College, where UWG allowed just 93. Saturday’s total against FIT included holding GSC rushing leader Antwaun Haynes to 32 rushing yards on the day.
Jackson ended the game with 24 carries for 94 yards. Candler was 25-for-40 in the game for 207 yards, completing 12 passes to Shaq Roland for 122 yards.
West Georgia moves to 8-2 on the season and 5-2 in Gulf South Conference play. Florida Tech falls to 5-5 on the year and 3-4 against league competition. The Wolves will conclude the regular season next Saturday at 2 p.m. at home, taking on West Florida on Senior Day.