UWA faces Texas-sized test at Midwestern State

Published 10:59 am Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coming off a dominating 49-30 victory over then No. 1 Valdosta State, the expectation may be that the West Alabama football team could be walking into a trap when it travels to Wichita Falls, Texas, Saturday to face Midwestern State.

The thing is, trap games don’t happen against good football teams, and No. 24 Midwestern State (4-1) is a very good football team.

The Mustangs have No. 8 West Alabama’s attention after coming to Tiger Stadium last fall and galloping back to Texas with a convincing 42-27 victory, gaining 348 of their 414 total yards on the ground. West Alabama (5-1) comes into this Saturday’s game as the eighth-best rush defense in Division II football, allowing just 83.3 yards per game.

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“Midwestern State is going to be a tremendous place to play against a tremendous opponent,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “They came to our place last year and basically took our manhood from us.

“There are a few programs at every level of college football that have a legitimate chance to win a national championship,” Hall said, “and Midwestern State has been in that conversation for the last several years.”

West Alabama led 24-14 at halftime of last year’s game before Midwestern State dominated the second half, outscoring the Tigers 28-3 over the third and fourth quarters.

“They are a very physical football program that is great at home,” Hall said. “They have won 22 consecutive games at Memorial Stadium and have one of the best running backs in the country in Keidrick Jackson. He really hurt us last year.”

Jackson rushed for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries for the Mustangs at Tiger Stadium last season. He is currently 12th in Division II and leads the Lone Star Conference at 126.8 yards per game.

“Defensively, they are an eight-man front that really wants to stop the run,” Hall said. “They will put their cornerbacks on islands one-on-one with your receivers. We have to be able to make big plays offensively.”

Big plays haven’t been a problem for UWA this season. The Tigers have 18 plays from scrimmage of 30 yards or more, and seven different players have caught touchdown passes, including a Gulf South Conference leading eight for receiver Seth Roberts.

The Tigers are the top rushing offense, scoring offense and total offense in the GSC. UWA is third in the nation in scoring (49.5 ppg) and fourth in the land in total offense (569.0 ypg). Running back Kedrick Rhodes leads the GSC in total rushing yards (569) and yards per game (94.8).

West Alabama is homecoming guests of the Mustangs for the 8 p.m. kickoff. MSU has never lost to a GSC football team in five meetings and is 9-2 on Homecoming under current head coach Bill Maskill.

“We have to play our “A” game if we expect to go in there and break their home win streak,” Hall said. “They will play us like their hair is on fire. I can promise you that.”

There is no television for the game, but Tiger fans can follow the action on ESPN 104.9 locally and www.espn1049.com globally with James Hardy and Hunter Gibson on the call.