UWA rolls up 637 total yards in winBy Staff Reports Published 10:06am Friday, September 20, 2013
With Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie in attendance, two of West Alabama’s most diminutive players put together huge games as UWA rolled up 637 total yards on the way to a 45-3 victory over Florida Tech at Pirate Stadium.
The victory improves No. 14 West Alabama to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the GSC. Florida Tech is 1-2 and 0-1. The Tigers host Concordia at Tiger Stadium in Demopolis on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
“We are executing on a high level on offense. We ran it well, threw it well and played fast,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “We played relentless, never unraveled and played with a lot of character. We are pretty talented on both sides of the ball as well. I like that the best.”
Junior quarterback Kyle Caldwell (5-7, 165) completed 19-of-26 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Javae Swindle (5-4, 162) ran for 170 yards and two scores on just 10 carries.
“It’s pretty crazy to know that Doug Flutie was here,” Caldwell said. “Players like him helped give opportunities for guys like me, guys who have been told they weren’t tall enough to play quarterback their whole lives.”
Flutie lives in the Melbourne area and is a booster for the fledgling Panther football program.
Swindle opened the scoring for West Alabama, going 76 yards on the second play of the game. Mark Grant kicked the first of his six extra points to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead just 27 seconds into the game.
Kedrick Rhodes scored on an 11-yard run with 3:00 left in the first quarter to put West Alabama up 14-0. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard run by Swindle. The sophomore from Jemison High School gained 126 yards on just four carries in the first quarter.
“Our offensive line did a great job, got to their aiming points and starting opening up some big holes,” Swindle said. “Still, I won’t be satisfied until I can put up numbers like this against Valdosta State or Delta State.”
Florida Tech’s deepest penetration in the first half came to an abrupt halt when Mario Gainer stuffed Panther quarterback Sean Ashley for no game on fourth and 1 at the UWA 25 yard line.
“Coach (Robert) Henry always tells us to rise to the occasion and make a big play. Luckily, I was able to do that,” Gainer said. “We were able to get a lot of pressure and penetration with our base stunts.”
Caldwell and Seth Roberts hooked up for the next two West Alabama touchdowns on scoring passes of 16 and 30 yards. Roberts finished with six catches for 116 yards and now has five TD receptions in three games.
Florida Tech’s points came on the final play of the first half when Brion Ashley connected on a 29-yard field goal set up a bizarre turn of events. With West Alabama on the Panther 3-yard line, Tyler Rosenblatt intercepted Gary Johnston in the end zone and retuned it 32 yards.
Ashley connected on a 47-yard pass and run to the UWA 21, but a roughing the passer penalty put the ball on the Tiger 11 with no time on the clock to set up Ashley’s field goal.
West Alabama was forced to settle for a field goal on its first drive of the second half, a 38-yarder by Grant to take 31-3 lead at the 12:36 mark of the third quarter. The Tigers stretched the lead to 38-3 with a 98-yard drive, which Swindle capped with a 2-yard run with 1:28 left in the third quarter.
Johnston scored the Tigers final points on a 3-yard run with 13:46 left, capping a five-play, 64 yard drive.
Kedrick Rhodes followed Swindle with 93 yards on 19 carries, while Chad Toocheck had four receptions for 54 yards.
Demetrus McNeal recorded seven tackles for the Tigers, followed by Mario Gainer and Frank Richardson with six each. The Tigers broke up eight passes, with Malcolm Butler getting two of those.
Trevor Sand ran for 27 yards on nine carries to lead the Panthers, who were limited to just 90 yards rushing on 30 carries. Ashley completed 8-for-19 passes for 130 yards for FIT.