UWA comes up short in battle of Top 20 teams

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, October 4, 2012

Midwestern State gashed West Alabama for 348 yards and six rushing touchdowns on the way to a 42-27 victory over the Tigers in a matchup of NCAA Division II Top 20 teams Thursday at Tiger Stadium.

Midwestern State improved to 4-1 with the win. West Alabama dropped to 4-2.

Tailback Keidrick Jackson ran for 193 yards and three scores on 21 carries, while Mustang quarterback Brandon Kelsey added 117 yards and three more TDs against a UWA defense that came into the game allowing just 114 yards on the ground.

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“That’s a good football team we played tonight that had a good plan,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “Keidrick Jackson is a big time football player. He broke tackles and ran it hard. I tip my hat to him.

“We need to learn from this and then put it behind us,” Hall said. “We can still focus on winning the Gulf South Conference and work toward being a top two seed in the NCAA Playoffs.”

UWA opened the scoring on a 1-yard run by Danny Hobbs, capping an 11-play, 65-yard drive on the Tigers first possession. Hobbs finished with 109 yard rushing on 24 carries in his first start since a knee injury sidelined Tiger star runner Matt Willis.

Kelsey scored from 17 yards with 1:04 left in the first period to even the score at 7-7, but Gary Johnston hooked up with Marcus Brown on a 65-yard catch and run on the final play of the first quarter to put UWA up 14-7.

Kelsey scored again from 1-yard out to cap a nine-play, 83-yard drive with 4:06 to play in the first half to even the score at 14. Johnston connected with Tyler O’Neal on a 4-yard jump pass with 19 seconds left in the half, putting the Tigers up 21-14.

Keith Gibson forced a Chauncey Harris fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Shontral Ford recovered at the Midwestern 18, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Ryne Smith to give West Alabama a 24-14 lead at the half.

The second half belonged to the Mustangs from Wichita Falls, Texas. West Alabama’s only score came on a 33-yard field goal by Smith, extending his consecutive made streak to 22.

Jackson scored on a 9-yard run on the Mustangs first possession of the second half. The score was set up by a 54-yard punt return by Neiko Caldwell.

Pat Gardner recovered a Johnston fumble just past midfield on UWA’s next drive, setting up a 1-yard Jackson run to give the Mustangs a 28-24 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

“I thought the momentum swung at that point and we never answered the bell,” Hall said. “We just couldn’t manage to get the ball in the end zone in the second half.”

Jackson scored his third touchdown, a 45-yard run on fourth-and-one to stretch the Mustangs lead to 35-27 with 8:00 left to play. After being hemmed up in the backfield, Jackson several tackles on the way to the end zone. Kelsey got in from the one with 59 seconds left to finish the scoring.

Johnston completed 7-of-14 for 106 and the two touchdowns, while Kyle Caldwell was 6-of-7 for 70 yards for the Tigers. Brown caught three passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Otha Foster and Deon Lacey were credited with seven tackles each for West Alabama. Taiyon Jackson had 11 tackles to lead Midwestern State.