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Caldwell leads UWA past Mississippi College

Kyle Caldwell passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as West Alabama defeated Mississippi College, 41-28, in Gulf South Conference action Saturday at Robinson-Hale Stadium.

Caldwell finished the game 22-for-27 for 221 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran nine times for 55 yards, including a 16-yard scoring run with 55 seconds left to put the game away for the Tigers.

West Alabama improved to 5-5 overall and 2-4 in the GSC. Mississippi College dropped to 1-8 and 0-6.

Caldwell’s third touchdown pass gave him 70 for his career and upped his UWA career-leading passing yardage totals to 7,415. He is currently the only player in West Alabama history to have more than 8,000 total yards, going into his final game as a Tiger with 8,764.

Mississippi College cut the UWA lead to 34-28 with 6:08 left to play when Kyle Smith scored on a 7-yard run, but the Tigers went 64 yards on 11 plays, taking up 5:16 on its next possession ending with Caldwell’s run for a touchdown.

“We started fast and then were complacent coming out of halftime,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “We let them hang around, but we finished strong and that is what’s important.

“We could have done a better job of driving in the nail when we had them down, but we will enjoy a win because they are hard to come by,” Gilliland said. “We have to enjoy this tonight and get focused quickly for a short week and UNA on Thursday.”

A Fred Barnes interception on Mississippi College’s second possession set up West Alabama’s first touchdown, a 25-yard pass from Caldwell to Ty Morgan. After MC scored to even the game at 7-7, Caldwell hit Tyshaan Alston on 3-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in the first period and never trailed again.

Tyler Rogers 2-yard run with 12:44 left in the first half to cap a drive set up by the Tigers second interception of the game, this one by Rashaad Greene.

Mississippi College scored a pair of first-half touchdowns on a 4-yard run by Jonathan Redd and a 1-yard run by Chris Ingram.

Caldwell and Chad Toocheck hooked up for 9-yard TD toss with 1:23 left in the half and Mark Grant added a 45-yard field goal as time expired to give West Alabama a 31-14 halftime lead. Grant also nailed a 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

“Daryl (Collins) and Chad (Toocheck) had some big plays for us and Tyler Rogers ran the ball very well,” Caldwell said. “I thought we started hot, executing well. The offensive line played hard and opened some stuff up for us.”

Javae Swindle rushed for 68 yards on seven carries to lead UWA rushing. The junior from Jemison, Ala., now has 2,067 career yards, making him just the fourth player in UWA football history to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

Daryl Collins had seven receptions for 67 yards for West Alabama. Toocheck finished with six catches for 86 yards as the Tigers rang up 481 yards total offense. Rogers had 13 carries for 64 yards in a 260-yard rushing effort for UWA.

Chris Ingram led Mississippi College rushers with 64 yards on 15 carries. Redd completed 7-of-16 passes for 172 yards and a score. Kirk Bryant had two receptions for 77 yards and a TD. The Choctaws amassed a season-best 358 total yards.

West Alabama closes its season by hosting North Alabama Thursday at Tiger Stadium. Mississippi College travels to Delta State on Saturday.