Plenty to play for in Texas for UWA

Published 3:24 pm Friday, November 2, 2012

Call it Tiger pride, or label it an opportunity for a little redemption in the eyes of its Gulf South Conference brethren. Either way, this University of West Alabama football team believes it has something to prove Saturday at Abilene Christian, even after clinching a share of the GSC title last week.

“From where we sit in the regional rankings this is a huge game,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “It’s also a big game because we believe we misrepresented ourselves and our conference in the Midwestern (State) game.”

Despite being 7-2 and ranked second in the NCAA Division Super 2 Region, West Alabama is still stinging from a 42-27 loss to Midwestern State on Oct. 4. Midwestern State plays in the same Lone Star Conference as Saturday’s opponent Abilene Christian, who is 5-4.

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The Tigers, ranked 13th nationally, have allowed just 20 points in three games (6.7 pg) since the loss to Midwestern State, while averaging 53 points in the same three outings. Hall says it none of that matters on Saturday.

“We want some redemption for the way we played in the second half of that Midwestern game,” Hall said. “We want some redemption for the Gulf South Conference for the way we finished that game.”

Saturday’s game is the eighth in the 10-game GSC-LSC First and Ten Challenge that has been ongoing for the entirety of the 2012 season. Lone Star Conference teams have won five of the eight.

To assist in settling the score for itself and the GSC, the West Alabama defense has to find a way to stifle ACU senior quarterback Mitchell Gale, who has passed for 11,417 yards and 94 touchdowns in his Wildcat career.

The matchup between Gale and UWA defenders is where things get interesting. The Tigers are the top pass defense in the nation, allowing just 104.4 yards per game and only three TD passes all season. UWA has picked off 17 passes as well this season, led by cornerback Malcolm Butler and strong safety Otha Foster with five each.

“They have a quarterback who is a tremendous football player and they have built an offense around him,” Hall said. “He can really whip it and they have some great receivers and he understands their system.

“Our defense loves to play,” Hall said. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing an option team like Shorter or a team like Abilene or Valdosta State who throws it, they just love to play.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for noon at Shotwell Stadium on the Abilene Christian campus.