CARROLLTON, Ga. - The third week of the season brings a new challenge to the 10th-ranked West Georgia Wolves, as head coach David Dean takes his squad on the road for the first time in 2018. The Wolves will travel south to Albany, Georgia on Saturday evening, to take on the Albany State Golden Rams in the final Non-conference battle of the season. 

Game Vitals
UWG at Albany State - September 15, 7 PM - Albany Coliseum 
Will Call & Ticket Booth Open: 5:30 PM
Gates Open: 6:00 PM
General Admission: $15.00
Parking: $5.00
Youth: Free with Paying Adult

West Georgia faced a South Atlantic Conference opponent for the second-straight week, winning handily by a 42-14 count at University Stadium. The Wolves racked up 496 yards of total offense behind a 300-yard passing game from junior quarterback Willie Candler. Albany State played Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Tuskegee at a neutral site last week and struggled offensively, falling 20-0 to the Golden Tigers. 

The West Georgia Wolves moved into the American Football Coaches Association top-10 in this week’s poll, marking the first time since 2016 that the Wolves have been that high in the rankings. The Wolves sit just outside of the top-10 in the poll this week as well, as head coach David Dean and his squad are 13th in that ranking. West Georgia opened the year ranked 19th in the AFCA Top-25 preseason rankings, while standing 21st in the preseason poll. 

The UWG defense has been a major factor in the strong start to the 2018 season, as the Wolves have the seventh-best scoring defense in the nation, giving up just 8.5 points per game on the year. West Georgia has allowed two touchdowns and a field goal through the first two games, holding their opponents to just 73 yards per game on the ground. Safety Chris Blackston led the way for the defense against Limestone, collecting seven tackles and recovering a fumble. The junior from Adairsville is the team leader with 12 tackles on the year. 

Before the first snap of the 2018 season, opposing defensive coordinators knew that Devontae Jackson could take over a game at any given time. The reigning Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year then rushed for 95 yards against a defense that consistently put eight in the box in the opener against Catawba. Then he went for 100 yards against Limestone, but he wasn’t the biggest story of that game, as Willie Candler stepped into the limelight with the first 300-yard passing day of his career, and he threw for three touchdowns as well, giving the Wolves a true double-threat offense.

The Gulf South Conference schedule begins this weekend, with all teams but 10th-ranked West Georgia playing against league opponents. The Wolves will play on the road for the first time this season, taking on Albany State out of the SIAC. 

The first GSC matchup for North Greenville will have to wait until next week, as Hurricane Florence bears down on the state of South Carolina. Mississippi College will not make that trip this week, as that contest has been cancelled. 

The marquee matchup of the week is likely in Livingston,  Alabama, as the Valdosta State Blazers and the 8th-ranked West Alabama Tigers meet for an early season battle. The Tigers lost just once in conference play last year, and both teams are 2-0 entering Week 3 of the season. 

Florida Tech plays host to a Delta State team that is in search of their first win of 2018. fiT is 2-0 on the year, while DSU is 0-2.  West Florida, fresh off of a loss at Midwestern State, will be back at home to take on the Shorter Hawks this weekend. 

Turnovers have been a big part of the Wolves’ success thus far on the year. West Geogia has created five turnovers, including two interceptions and three fumble recoveries. The defense has been hard-hitting through the first two games of the season, forcing the ball free four times with three recoveries. Montrell Pardue has been involved with the most turnovers thus far, forcing a fumble and he has one interception, which came in the Catawba game.

West Georgia’s defense has been in the backfield on a regular basis thus far in the 2018 season, collecting 14 tackles for a loss through the first two games of 2018. The interesting part about the tackles for a loss is that 14 different players have at least 0.5 tackles for a loss thus far on the year. Four different players lead that group, with the Wolves’ 2017 All-GSC defensive end Chad Price leading the way with 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Junior quarterback Willie Candler threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns against Limestone, and has now connected with 13 different receivers on the year. The 300-yard game was the first for a West Georgia quarterback since Dallas Dickey on December 5, 2015 against Tuskegee in the NCAA Division II South Region Final, when Dickey threw for 398 yards in the UWG victory.

Senior receiver Emoni Williams has been the top receiver through the first two games for the West Georgia Wolves. Against Limestone, Williams had five receptions for 89 yards, which gives him the lead for the year among UWG receivers. Against the Saints, Thomas Lester also had a big day, hauling in four passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

One or two milestones are just around the corner for senior running back Devontae Jackson. He currently has 491 career carries, needing just nine rushes to become the fifth back in school history with 500 carries in a career. He also has 2,915 career rushing yards after 101 yards against Limestone. He moved into second-place in all-time rushing yards and needs 492 yards to become the all-time leader. Jackson is also 258 yards away from breaking the West Georgia record for all-purpose yards.

The Wolves are among the best in NCAA Division II in nine categories this season thus far. Scoring defense is the top number, as the Wolves are seventh in that category. The UWG defense is also 13th in red zone defense and 14th in the nation on third down. The other top category for the Wolves is rushing defense, where UWG is allowing 73.5 yards per game, good for 16th in the nation.

West Georgia is currently 26th nationally in net punting, averaging 38.55 yards per punt on the year thus far. Senior punter Christian Ramirez is scond in the GSC in punting yardage, averaging 44.9 yards per punt. He has pinned UWG opponents inside the 20 on six of his 11 punts this season. 

The West Georgia defense created three turnovers in the Catawba game, with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Sophomore safety Austin Barron had one of the two picks, hauling in the first interception of his career at UWG. The return after the interception brought the West Georgia crowd to their feet, as Barron’s 22-yard return gave the West Georgia offense field position deep in Catawba territory.

Senior receiver K.J. Parmer electrified the UWG faithful in the season opener with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. The score was part of a 21-point fourth quarter for the Wolves, and put UWG on top by a 27-3 count with 11:52 left in the game. It was the second of Parmer’s career in the red and black, as he had a 72-yard return for a touchdown against Shorter in 2016.