Delta State turns four UWA turnovers into 45-24 win

Published 9:27 am Monday, October 27, 2014

Eddie McCadney ran for three touchdowns and Delta State capitalized on four West Alabama turnovers as the Statesmen ruined UWA’s Homecoming with a 45-24 Gulf South Conference victory Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

Delta State improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the GSC with the win. West Alabama dropped to 4-4 and 1-3 in the league with its second straight home defeat.

“I have to get us ready to play better. We gave them the ball three times inside the five-yard line and you won’t beat a good team doing that,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “That’s 21 points and that’s big in this game. We have to play smarter with the football.

“I didn’t have us prepared to play. I have to figure out why and get it fixed. If there is blame its on the head coach,” Gilliland said. “We will get it right and figure out who wants to fight along with us. Tiger fans deserve better than what they saw tonight.”

Delta State had three one-play scoring drives following West Alabama turnovers. West Alabama lost fumbles at its own 2 and 3-yard lines in the second quarter that turned into Statesmen points and then Trey Shaw returned an interception to the UWA 2-yard line to set up a fourth-quarter score.

“We shot ourselves in the foot and put ourselves in bad situations,” UWA quarterback Kyle Caldwell said. “All of those turnovers were my fault. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. I just have to put that on my back.

“On the first fumble I didn’t put it in there all the way for Javae (Swindle) and on the second one he stripped it from behind,” Caldwell said. “On the interception I threw if off my back foot. It was a stupid decision.”

McCadney’s touchdown runs came from 40, three and two yards. The sophomore finished as the game’s leading rusher with 93 yards on 20 carries. Ladarrell Hunt chipped in 68 yards on nine carries for DSU.

Normally a pass happy offense, Delta State ran for 205 yards and passed for just 158, 220 yards below their passing yards per game average.

West Alabama, who came into the game as the top rushing team in the GSC, was limited to just 81 yards on the ground while throwing for 235.

“I take my hat off to Delta State. They are a well-coached football team with some great athletes,” said safety Javonte Martin, whose acrobatic interception set up a UWA touchdown in the first half. “They did a lot of great things off the play action. They are a good football team and they deserved to win tonight.”

After trading field goals on each team’s initial possession, Delta State jumped to a 10-3 lead when Tyler Sullivan connected with Ricky Hunt on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 2:01 left in the first quarter.

West Alabama tied the game at 10-10 on a 6-yard scoring pass from Kyle Caldwell to Tyshaan Alston. The touchdown was set up by the Martin interception.

“I figured from the velocity of the ball it was a tipped ball and when it hit my stomach I didn’t know it was there,” Martin said. “I felt it slipping down so I squeezed it with my legs and it kept sliding, so I said ‘let me tuck and roll’ and it moved back toward my stomach.”

McCadney’s two first-half touchdowns sent Delta State into the half with a comfortable 31-10 lead. The Statesmen had an 86-yard interception return by Jereco Beckwith on UWA’s final play of the half nullified by a holding penalty.

Caldwell was 19-for-30 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He moved into second place on the UWA career passing yards list with 6,857 yards, needing 178 next week to own that career record.

Sullivan was 19-for-30 for 158 yards, two TDs and two interceptions for Delta State. The leading passer in the GSC had scoring passes to Hunt and James Johnson.

Daryl Collins got the Tigers on the scoreboard in the second half with an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:17 left in the third period, cutting the Delta State lead to 38-17. Caldwell and Collins hooked up on a 6-yard TD pass with 1:35 left to play for the final margin.

“I saw that it was going to roll dead inside our 10 yard line and I knew I had to make a decision, so I decided to pick it up,” Collins said of his return. “When I saw the first crease I just hit it and I knew I was gone. Everybody did their job well on that play.”

West Alabama has a short week, hosting Valdosta State Thursday on ESPN3 at 6 p.m. Delta State returns home to host North Alabama.