UWA dominates Clark to open season
LIVINGSTON – Javae Swindle ran for 108 yards, linebacker Tevin Thomas recorded nine tackles and the Tiger defense limited Clark Atlanta to nine total yards in the third quarter as No. 13 West Alabama had little trouble with the Panthers, winning 42-6 Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers take a 1-0 record to play at FCS member McNeese State Saturday in Lake Charles, La. Clark Atlanta is 0-1 and plays Miles College at home next week.
“We did what we needed to do and handled our business. Great teams beat teams they are supposed to beat,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “I tell you what though, that Clark Atlanta team is a lot better football team than a year ago. Coach (Kevin) Weston has done a heck of a job in a short amount of time.”
West Alabama jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game and never looked back. Seth Roberts and Markeyus Johnson opened the scoring for the Tigers, with Roberts gathering in a 7-yard pass from Kyle Caldwell on the opening drive and Johnson scampering 36 yards for a touchdown the second time UWA had the football.
“Offensively, we came out scored the first two times we had the ball,” Hall said. “The second touchdown came on a one-play drive and then the defense scored, so we kind of got out of our rhythm, but we got it back.”
Linebacker DeQuan Shockley scooped up a Panther fumble and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to give West Alabama a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers would take a 28-0 lead into the half thanks to a 15-yard scoring pass from Gary Johnston to Chad Toocheck with 32 seconds left in the second period.
The West Alabama defense limited the Panthers to just 77 total yards in the first half and to just 153 for the game, an average of only 2.5 yards per play. The Tigers recorded 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a net loss of 57 yards.
“We adjusted to what they were doing in the first quarter because Coach (Robert) Henry prepared us for everything,” Thomas said. “He is one of the best coaches I have ever had and I have to take my hat off to the defensive line. They played great.”
West Alabama erased any question about a second-half letdown, taking the second-half kickoff and driving 57 yards on nine plays, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Swindle. Caldwell and Roberts connected for the second time late in the third quarter, this time on a 41-yard scoring pass to put UWA ahead 42-0.
“We really trust our running backs and offensive line. We have a lot of seniors and they handle their business,” Caldwell said. “We are going to have to throw to win some games though. Their defense dropped eight a lot and it’s hard to throw when they do that.”
The Tigers ran for 281 yards and passed for 208.
Clark Atlanta managed to get points on the board midway through the final period, driving 75 yards on 14 plays against the West Alabama defensive reserves. Montavio Taylor capped the drive with a 1-yard run. UWA defensive tackle Juantez Hartsfield blocked the extra point.
Johnson had 94 all-purpose yards for West Alabama, 52 rushing and 42 receiving. Roberts, Johnson and Malik Lofton had three receptions each for the Tigers. Redshirt freshman kicker Mark Grant converted all six of his extra point attempts in his first collegiate game.
“I was pleased with our kicking game and our defense played tremendously. All in all, it was a really good effort,” Hall said. “We have a few things we have to correct. We had 12 men on the field one time and that should never happen even though it’s the first game.”
Caldwell completed 12-of-19 for 148 yards, while Johnston was 4-of-5 for 60 yards. Neither quarterback was intercepted or sacked.
Brandon Lilly followed Thomas’ nine stops with eight tackles, while Martaze Jackson recorded seven tackles and Qyen Griffin five.
Bradley Battle gained 50 yards on 19 carries to lead Clark Atlanta. Quarterback Earl Trenton completed 3-of-5 passes for 29 yards and was sacked three times. Rashad Bryant was credited with 13 tackles to lead the Panther defense. Bre’na Williams and Larelle Muldrow had nine tackles each.