Defense key in UWA win over Shaw

Published 9:23 am Monday, September 15, 2014

The West Alabama defense sacked a pair of Shaw quarterbacks a school-record nine times as the Tigers defeated the Bears 30-6 to hand first-year coach Brett Gilliland his initial victory at Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

The win improved UWA to 2-0 with a trip to FCS opponent Jacksonville State looming next week. Shaw dropped to 0-2.

With sack yardage counting against rushing totals, Shaw ended up with minus 26 yards rushing, just six yards short of the school record for fewest rushing yards allowed. The 1983 team limited Miles College to minus 32.

“Our defensive front had a field day and I’m sure glad they did,” Gilliland said. “I know their quarterbacks have to be hurting. Our guys were really flying around out there.”

The Tiger defense recorded a total of 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the game for 82 yards in losses. Jared Washington finished with three sacks and five tackles behind the line of scrimmage, but it wasn’t enough to keep the senior from Lanett, Ala., happy.

“We need to start scoring on defense, we need to work on that,” Washington said. “They were trying to double team me some, but I was able to get into the A gap and sometimes I just bull rushed them.”

“We saw some things in the video this week with their protection where we thought we could get some pressure,” defensive line coach Roberto Pinilla said. “It’s usually tough to get sacks from your inside guys on the defensive front because are usually getting double teamed, but our guys did a great job tonight.”

West Alabama led 10-0 after a lackluster first half from the Tiger offense. Kyle Caldwell scored on a 16 yard run with 1:38 left in the first quarter and Mark Grant hit a 27-yard field goal with 4:03 left before intermission.

Caldwell finished with 114 yards rushing and 133 yards passing to pace a Tiger offense that put up 20 points and 242 total yards in the second half to finish with 407 total yards. The senior from Dadeville, Ala., was 8-of-17 and was intercepted once.

“We have to finish drives and get the ball in the endzone,” Gilliland said. “We want all our drive to end in kicks, but tonight too many of them ended in kicks worth three points.”

Grant made field goals from 27, 22 and 23 yards and missed from 33. The miss was just the second in the sophomore’s career.

West Alabama stretched its lead to 17-0 when Jabari Baker scored on a 2-yard run with 7:16 left in the third quarter. The run capped a seven-play, 45-yard drive.

“The defense had our backs tonight,” Caldwell said. “We struggled early as an offense, but we picked up the tempo in the second half and had some big plays. We knew with the defense they were playing if we could make one person miss we could get some big plays.”

Shaw avoided the shutout when Trey Folston connected with Kowaski Kitchens on a 6-yard scoring pass with 4:22 to play. The Bears try for a two-point conversion failed.

Freshman running back Rashaad Lee scored his first collegiate touchdown from 1-yard out with 1:32 left in the game to cap West Alabama scoring.

Javae Swindle finished with 74 yards rushing on 15 carries, followed by Baker with 55 yards on 18 trips. Chad Toocheck had three receptions for 35 yards to lead Tiger receivers.

Washington’s five tackles, all behind the line of scrimmage led the Tiger defense. Javonte Martin had four stops and an interception. Fred Barnes picked up four tackles as well.

Folston completed 18-of-28 for 222 yards for Shaw. Kitchens caught four balls for 76 yards and the TD. Four Shaw players recorded six tackles each.