West Alabama looks to regroup after loss

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

Contributed report

LIVINGSTON, AL- The University of West Alabama Tiger football team (2-5, 0-5 GSC) is working to regroup for this Saturday when they meet up with number-three Valdosta State (6-1, 4-1 GSC). The team is coming off of a tough 41-0 loss last weekend at West Georgia. The Blazers, meanwhile, are coming off of a stellar 52-12 win over Henderson State at home on Saturday, moving them into a five-way tie for the conference lead.

“Everyone knows that Valdosta State is the defending National Champions,” said UWA Head Coach Sam McCorkle. “They have one of the finest young coaches in America in Chris Hatcher, and he, in turn, has an excellent staff. We are looking forward to the challenge of playing such a high-caliber team.”

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UWA is looking to get its offense back on track after compiling only 112 yards of total offense last weekend, well below its season average of 295.1 yards per game. The team was held under 100 yards rushing for only the second time all season, but it was the first time they have finished with negative rushing yards in a game in 2005.

The Tiger ground attack will be fighting for yards again this weekend, going against a Blazer defense which is only giving up 114.1 rushing yards per game, including 3.5 yards per carry.

Jerin Wright continues to lead the rushing attack for UWA, carrying the ball 100 times for 376 yards, including three touchdowns. Quarterback James Reiter follows with 78 rushes for 350 yards and five touchdowns.

Reiter will look to take advantage of a vulnerable Blazers’ pass-defense that is giving up 250.4 yards per game through the air. On the season, Reiter has completed 43-of-99 passes for 808 yards, including four touchdowns. The receiving duo of Chris Coach and Andre Epps continue to lead the way for the Tigers. Coach has hauled in a team-high 16 of those completions for a team-best 323 yards, while finding the end zone twice. Epps is second with 13 catches for 188 yards and two scores.

The Tiger defense will look to stiffen up as they face a potent Blazer offense that is gaining 390.1 total yards per outing. The Tigers, on the season, are allowing 362.4 yards per game.

The defense will be looking to put consistent pressure on quarterback Barrett Wilkes, who has completed 69.2 percent of his pass attempts on the season (162-of-234), while throwing for 1,529 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also rushed for a team-high three touchdowns on the year. Derek Tharpe leads a strong receiving corps for VSU with 29 catches and 383 yards, including one touchdown.

Nine receivers have caught 10 or more passes on the season, including three with more than 20. William Milton and Zach Parker are the other two with 20-plus catches for the Blazers. Milton has 25 catches for 166 and one touchdown, while Parker has hauled in 23 passes for 251 yards and three scores. Sherard Reynolds leads the team with five touchdown grabs on the season.

Vincent Brown leads the rushing attack for VSU with 42 carries and 271 yards. Milton has also rushed 37 times on the year for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Tigers are led by Lewis Thompson’s 56 total tackles (33 solo and 23 assists), including 4.5 tackles for a loss. Demarcus Thornton and Kidane McBride are next with 43 total tackles apiece. Thornton is also second on the team with three interceptions, trailing only Richard Bevill, who has four. McBride is also tied with four others for the team lead with two sacks.

Jason McNeill’s 35 total tackles (23 solo and 12 assists) lead the way for the Blazers’ strong defensive unit. William Montford and Tim Thompson follow with 31 and 30 total tackles respectively. Thompson also leads VSU with four sacks on the year.

“We must study what Valdosta does in all three phases of the game,” closed McCorkle. “However, the biggest thing for us this week is to work on West Alabama, and get better at every position and everything we do. We have a young team that is continuing to improve, and our belief in them has not wavered.”

The Tigers and Blazers are set to square off in Tiger Stadium, with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m. All of the exciting action can be heard on WZNJ FM-106.5 (Demopolis). Live stats will also be available at athletics.uwa.edu.