Tigers fight, claw, but come up short against Samford

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

The University of West Alabama Tigers put up a fight on Saturday in Samford, but came up short in a 34-20 loss in Birmingham.

Tigers head coach Sam McCorkle feels his team played well and hopes they will learn from the loss as they prepare to host Tuskegee on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

“I felt like our team played extremely hard,” McCorkle said.

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“We had great effort and great desire, and I have no doubt that they were focused and wanted to win.

I think from a year ago, we were much better in special teams.

I also felt like we were much more aggressive on defense.

But the biggest thing that we have to learn is not to play close or to look good, but we have to go out there and win.

Good teams find a way to win, and hopefully we will learn from our first game and use it as a building block and start taking the necessary steps we have to, to win.”

At the 12:59 mark in the 4th quarter, the Tigers’ Tonya Butler kicked a 22-yard filed goal to bring UWA within six points.

“We had a drive where our offensive line played very well and we were really whipping Samford up front with guys like Jon Cooper, Carlos Montgomery, Lee Turner, Erik Lee, Eddie McCrory, and Zach Giddens,” McCorkle said.

“I think those guys knocked Samford off the ball and I think our big running backs were on the verge of running their defense down.

And after we kicked the field goal, I didn’t think they could stop us and we had a great chance to win, but you have to give Samford credit because they put together a long drive, ate up the clock, and they scored.

It was very disappointing because our players played so hard and they put their whole hearts into the game.”

Many players for the Tigers had a vital role in the team effort, and coach McCorkle believes his team played with a desire to turn things around this season.

“Marcus Ross rushed for 92 yards, the most rushing we have had in a game since 2002,” McCorkle said.

“Will Harter had 49 yards and Jerin Wright blocked very well.

Defensively, Donte Oden and Zeb Ellison had really big hits and played extremely well, and of course Kelvin Vann scored on a fumble recovery, and I felt like our defensive line, in Alvin Garrett, Ben Neal, Tim Kelley, and Carlos Wharton, hung in there very well with their offensive live.

Our defensive line had been a concern because of lack of depth, but they were a bright spot in the game.

Also, Tonya Butler kicked two field goals and two extra points.”

The Tigers drop to 0-1 with the loss, but now have to prepare for their first home game and conference game on Saturday against Tuskegee.

“Our focus is going to be that we have to get up after this loss and we have to learn things from it,” McCorkle said.

“We have to improve in our passing game.

I think Tuskegee has great speed and we have to do some things to simulate that so the guys can get used to the speed of the game.

And then we have to go to work at doing the things we do, and do them a little bit better.”