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Williams to Worsham puts UWA past Reddies

LIVINGSTON — A last-second touchdown pass to Gerald Worsham capped off an exciting Homecoming affair at Tiger Stadium Saturday night as the Tigers won 40-38 over the visiting Henderson State Reddies. UWA improves to 5-2 (3-1 Gulf South Conference) with the win while HSU drops to 4-3 (3-2 GSC).

It appeared as if the Tigers would suffer another late defeat as Benny Anderson blocked a Brock Sharp punt and returned it 51 yards into the end zone to put the visitors up 38-34 with just two minutes remaining on the clock.

Wes Mounger returned the ensuing kickoff to the 30 yard line to set up the Tigers final thrilling drive as Deon Williams led an inspiring effort as he completed six of nine passes in the game’s final moments. The drive seemed to be stalling after Williams was sacked to bring up a second and 23 from the Tiger 30, but following an incompletion, Williams hooked up with junior Jake Burks just at the down marker on third down to breathe new life into the drive.

Two more passes moved the Red and White deep into HSU territory and following an eight-yard pass to Don Smith, the Reddies called a timeout in an effort to regroup. The attempt almost proved successful as the HSU defense forced Williams out of the pocket, but fortunately the senior was able to pick up enough yardage for the first down to stop the clock. The Tigers hurried back to the line, and Williams spiked the ball with just one second remaining.

Williams then found a leaping Worsham in the back part of the end zone, and the Birmingham, Ala. native fell to the turf, securing the ball for the game-clinching score.

Sharp stuck the first points on the board with a 29 yard field goal. HSU answered with back-to-back scores to take a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. The first Reddies’ score came on a 7 yard pass from Nick Hardesty to George Lewis with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter. Ricky Davis gave HSU its 11 point lead as he scooped a Tiger fumble and carried it 51 yards for the score.

The Tigers retaliated with two consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter. Williams rushed from 14 yards out to pull the Red and White within four points. Williams TD run was setup by a 60 yard kickoff return by Mounger. Williams then found Kendrick May in the end zone for a 29 yard TD pass.

After Eric Torres evened the score at 17-all on a 40 yard field goal, Williams found Worsham for a 66 yard touchdown pass – placing the Tigers back in front. The score stands as the longest scoring play from scrimmage for UWA this season.

The Reddies answered with a 2-yard run by Elliot Herbert to once again knot the game – this time at 24-all. The scoring drive covered 62 yards on 7 plays. Williams once again found Worsham for a long pass play – this time from 51 yards away to put the Tigers up 31-24.

Continuing the back-and-forth theme of the evening, the Reddies once again responded just two minutes into the fourth quarter as Elliot Hebert rushed into the end zone from a yard on fourth down to knot the score at 31-31 with 13:08 remaining in the game. The Tigers threatened to extend the lead back out to a seven-point margin, but the HSU defense held its ground deep in their own territory to limit UWA to a 22-yard kick from Sharp to give the hosts a 34-31 advantage to set up the late dramatics.

Williams finished the night 20-32 through the air for 388 yards and the four scores, while he also added 45 yards on the ground. Worsham – the reigning GSC Offensive Player of the Week – caught eight balls for 169 yards and his three TDs.

Defensively, the Tigers were led by Gabe Poe who had an impressive night with a career-high 13 total tackles, and the junior from Pheba, Miss. also recorded a sack.

The Tigers outgained the guests by just three yards in the winning effort as HSU racked up 481 yards compared to UWA’s 484.

West Alabama returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 23 as UWA hosts Arkansas Tech. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.