LIVINGSTON, Ala. – West Alabama scored 24 second half points and blocked three Valdosta State kicks to defeat the Blazers 24-21 in Gulf South Conference football action at Tiger Field Thursday evening.
Valdosta State (8-2, 6-2) opened the scoring on the opening drive of the game as it marched 70 yards on 11 plays. Austen Roberts completed all four of his passes on the drive as the Blazers gained 37 yards through the air while also tallying 43 on the ground. David Arnold finished off the drive as he took a handoff on first down and went 13 yards up the middle for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, giving VSU a 6-0 lead.
A Dudley Spence interception on the ensuing West Alabama drive led to Valdosta State’s second score of the night. Spence picked off a Deon Williams pass on the VSU 25 and returned it to the Blazer 45 to set up a VSU drive. The Blazers marched to the West Alabama 2 before seeing its drive stall. Daniel Andersen came on for VSU and booted a 19 yard field goal to put the Blazers in front 9-0.
The two teams played scoreless through the second quarter before Valdosta State turned another interception into seven points on the opening drive of the second half. Harrison Dreiling registered his sixth interception on a Williams pass over the middle and returned it to the Tiger 25. After a run lost four yards and a pass fell incomplete, Ronnye Nelson hauled in a screen and carried the ball to the UWA 2. On the next play, Roberts found Nelson at the front right pylon for the touchdown. The extra point was again blocked for a 15-0 VSU lead.
West Alabama (7-4, 5-3) quickly got the score back as Williams connected with Kendrick May for a 59 yard completion to the VSU 7 on the opening play of the next drive. On the next play, Gerald Worsham caught a crossing pass for the score, cutting the Blazer lead to 15-7.
The Blazers moved to the UWA 5 on the ensuing drive, but saw West Alabama block a 22-yard field goal attempt by Andersen. The Tigers returned the block to their own 21 and needed just five plays, including completions of 57 and 30 yards to Randy Lowery to score a touchdown. The pass on the two-point conversion try was no good to leave VSU a 15-13 edge.
Jordan McNair fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Lowery recovered the fumble on the Blazer 11. However, the VSU defense limited West Alabama to a 40-yard field goal by Brock Sharp that gave UWA its first lead at 16-15.
Valdosta State took to the ground on the ensuing drive to regain the lead with a five-yard touchdown run by Nelson. The first 10 plays of the drive were all runs and netted 70 yards before Roberts completed a screen pass to David Bailey for eight yards to move the ball to the UWA 5. On the next play, Nelson lined up in the Wildcat formation and kept the ball as he rushed up the middle for the score. Nelson was tackles shy of the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion try to post the Blazer lead to 21-16.
The Tigers responded with a touchdown of their own, on a two-yard run by Williams, on the ensuing drive and added a two-point conversion to take a 24-21 lead.
Valdosta State drove to the West Alabama 25 on the final drive of the game, but saw a snap sail over the head of Nelson, a fumble that VSU recovered on its own 46. An incomplete pass followed before a second pass fell incomplete on the goal line to close out the game.
The Blazers tallied 357 total yards in the game, including 121 passing and 236 on the ground. Arnold picked up his first career 100-yard rushing game as he carried the ball 18 times for 124 yards and Roberts completed 13-of-24 passes in the contest. Harrison Dreiling tallied five tackles and an interception to lead the VSU defense.
West Alabama finished the game with 317 total yards of offense, 220 of which came in the second half. Williams gained 35 yards rushing and completed 14-of-28 passes for 241 yards. Deon Lacey tallied 10 tackles to lead the Tiger defense.
Valdosta State now awaits word on whether or not it will advance to the 2010 NCAA Division II playoffs. The playoffs selection will be announced Sunday, November 14 between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. on ESPNews.
For further information, visit: www.vstateblazers.com