UWA scores 13 touchdowns in rout of Central State
West Alabama rewrote the Tiger and Gulf South Conference football record books while sending its seniors out on a positive note by crushing Central State, 91-28, Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers end the regular season with an 8-3 record and a share of the Gulf South Conference championship, marking he first time in school history the Tigers have won back-to-back conference titles. Central State ends its season 2-9.
West Alabama will find out its NCAA Division II Playoff fate Sunday at 4 p.m., hoping to play in the postseason for the third consecutive year.
“We beat a team 91-28 tonight that beat two teams that are in serious consideration for a playoff spot. We have lost just one region game in two years,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “The six best teams in the region should get into the playoffs and anybody who knows Division II football should know we are one of those six teams.”
The 91 points scored by the Tigers destroys the UWA and GSC record for points in game. The previous UWA record was 80 against Centenary in 1968 and the previous conference record was 86 by Southern Arkansas against Henderson State in 2000.
West Alabama scored 13 touchdowns in the game, breaking the GSC record set by Southern Arkansas against Henderson State in 2000. The Tigers scored them in every way possible, six rushing, five passing, on an interception return and another on a punt return.
Leading 42-28 at the half, West Alabama outscored the Marauders 49-0 in the second half. The Tiger defense recorded nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, recovered two fumbles, had an interception and broke up 11 CSU passes.
“Coach (Robert) Henry did a great job at the half helping our guys get their emotions in check. We had some seniors playing emotion and not playing very soundly on defense in the first half,” Hall said. “On offense we were blowing and going all game long.
“I just hope this season isn’t over,” Hall said. “These kids deserve a chance to keep playing.”
Kyle Caldwell passed for five touchdowns and ran for another, while Javae Swindle broke his own UWA single game rushing record by ringing up 280 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
Swindle has set the previous record with 228 yards at North Alabama two weeks ago and now has 1,296 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, easily leading the GSC.
“I felt great and our offense played well, although we still have some growing to do,” Swindle said. “We were trying to prove a point tonight that we deserve to be in he playoffs.”
Caldwell was 13-of-17 for 210 yards and was not intercepted. The five TD tosses gives the junior from Dadeville 52 for his career.
“We played fast and we played hard offensively,” Caldwell said. “The offensive line was tremendous al night long. We did a lot of things very well tonight.”
Seth Roberts and Chad Toocheck both caught two touchdown passes, giving them both 12 for the season. Gary Johnston ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Ty Morgan caught a 13-yard touchdown pass, Malcolm Butler returned an interception 33 yards for a score and Malik Lofton returned a punt 80 yards for a TD to round out West Alabama scoring. Mark Grant nailed all 13 extra point tries.
“We came out with a different attitude in the second half after losing containment some in the first half,” Butler said of the UWA defense. “They showed us they wanted our heads so we had to respond.
“I missed one that I jumped at the McNeese State game,” Butler said of his pick six. “It was senior night, so tonight I just said what the heck and went and got it.”
With 688 total yards, West Alabama broke the school single season total offense record with 5,930 in just 11 games. The 2009 team held the previous record. Other school records to fall were touchdown passes in a season with 33 and rushing touchdowns in a season with 36. West Alabama also set the GSC record for yards gained per play in a season with 7.7 after 11 games.
Tevin Thomas had seven tackles to lead UWA defenders, followed by Demetruce McNeal and Mario Gainer with six each. Jeffrey Washington had six stops for Central State.
Robert Evans completed 18-of-41 passes for 270 yards and three Central State touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Christopher Murray and Steven Heard had six receptions each for the Marauders. Isiah Grooms ran for 78 yards on 13 carries.