UWA set to travel to #7 Delta State

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2005

LIVINGSTON, AL- Coming off of their first shutout since 2000 and riding a 2-0 start for the first time since 2002, the University of West Alabama Tiger football team prepares to go on the road for the first time this Saturday with a trip to perennial GSC power Delta State. The contest will mark the conference opener for both squads.

The Tigers are coming off of a 37-0 triumph over Lambuth on Thursday night in Tiger Stadium. The UWA defense was the story, holding the Eagles to just 163 yards of total offense, while forcing five turnovers and netting four sacks.

DSU is off to a 1-1 start, including a win over preseason number-two and defending NCAA Division II Finalist Pittsburg State 44-31 to open the season. The Statesmen traveled to Texas State, a ranked 1-AA squad, on Saturday and dropped a close 32-25 decision.

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“It is very exciting when it is time to start GSC play,” said UWA Head Coach Sam McCorkle. “We are starting against as good a team as there is in our league. When you play the number-seven team in the country early in the season, your young players have to grow up in a hurry.”

The Tiger offense is averaging 290 yards per game (126.5 rushing and 163.5 passing) led by quarterback James Reiter, who is 6-of-11 in passing for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Freshman Phillip Merryman has also seen action under center, and has completed 4-of-6 passes for 66 yards and one touchdown.

Chris Coach continues to lead the UWA receivers with 141 yards on three catches, including one touchdown. After being held without a catch in the opener, Andre Epps, last season’s leading receiver, caught three passes versus Lambuth for 44 yards and a score. Jerin Wright leads the Tiger ground attack with 79 yards on 23 carries, including a pair of touchdowns.

Delta State’s high-flying offense is scoring 34.5 points per game, and averaging 317.5 yards per game (86.5 rushing and 231 passing). Preseason All-GSC quarterback Scott Eyster is off to a good start for the Statesmen, completing 38-of-63 passes for 462 yards to go along with four touchdowns against a mere one interception.

Radale Pearson leads the DSU rushing attack with 106 yards on 33 carries, while Eyster is currently second on the team with 30 yards rushing and one touchdown. Chad Ridley leads all DSU receivers with 12 catches for 139 yards, while Robert Davis has emerged as the big-play threat with three touchdowns on just nine catches (166 yards).

The Tiger defense has played big in the first two games, limiting opponents to just six points per game (best in the GSC) and 225.5 yards per game, including a modest 76.5 yards per contest on the ground. UWA’s defense has also proven to be an opportunistic bunch, forcing eight opponent turnovers (four fumbles recovered and four interceptions), led by Demarcus Thornton’s two interceptions to go along with 10 total tackles.

Lewis Thompson leads all UWA defenders with 17 total tackles, including 10 solos and three for a loss. West Alabama has also netted 11 quarterback sacks, led by Darious Sheffield’s 2.5 (17 yards). Jason Riles has also played well for the Tigers and has 1.5 sacks (13 yards) to go along with 10 total tackles.

The Delta State defense is allowing 31.5 points per game and 416.5 yards of total offense per game (169 rushing and 247.5 passing). Jamarcus Wiggins leads DSU and is tied for the GSC lead with 23 total tackles, including 14 solos and one for a loss. Monterio James has turned in a team-best three interceptions to go along with nine total tackles.

“Coach Rhoades does a great job, and with their performances thus far this season, there is no doubt that we are playing one of the best teams in the country,” closed McCorkle. “It is very tough to play a good team that is coming off of a loss, so we know we have our work cut out for us.”

The Tigers and Statesmen are set to kickoff at 6:00 p.m., at Travis E. Parker Field in Cleveland, Miss. All of the exciting action can be heard on WZNJ FM-106.5 (Demopolis).