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Tigers Toil, Pull Away from Panthers

A wall of defenders greet Demetrius Cain

The 8th ranked West Alabama Tigers struggled early before finally exploding for a 44-0 demolition of the Clark Atlanta Panthers Saturday night at Panthers Stadium.

“We came out kind of sluggish on offense,” said West Alabama head coach Will Hall.

Penalties and a fumble ended the Tigers first two drives of the game. On the third drive, senior running back and pre-season All American Matthew Willis picked up his team gaining 33 all-purpose yards to set up a 36 yard field goal.

Where West Alabama’s struggles lasted only a few minutes, Clark Atlanta’s woes continued for 60 minutes.

After the defense tightened enough to hold the Tigers to a field goal, the offense gave the ball right back.

Senior linebacker Bryant McGowan stuck CAU freshman running back Antonio Ford in the backfield jarring the ball loose. Junior defensive back Fred Barnes dove between the tree trunk legs of the trench warriors to make the recovery for West Alabama.

Gary Johnston replaced starting quarterback Kyle Caldwell for the Tigers first series of the second quarter. Johnston hooked up with Malik Lofton for a 24 yard gain to give the Tigers their first truly redzone opportunity.

From the ten, Willis showed exactly why he is being considered as a pre-season candidate for the Harlon Hill Tropy. Willis started up the middle, cut right and simply out ran the Panthers defense to the endzone.

West Alabama added two more field goals before the opening half expired.

Clark Atlanta showed a few flashes of what future opponents may see when they opened the second half. Consecutive penalties on the offensive line kept the flashes from catching fire.

“We are missing three offensive linemen that could have played,” said Panthers head coach Darryl McNeil. “David Grace is a senior you know, he’s missing and who’s pretty much a mainstay.”

The Tigers scored on four of their next seven possessions to put the game in outer space.

Willis caught a 62 yard pass for a touchdown and rushed 55 yards for another score to finish with three touchdowns, 163 yards rushing on 15 carries and 73 yards receiving.

In split duty, Caldwell finished with 2 touchdowns, 215 yards on 12 of 19 passing despite having two big pass plays nullified by the officials.

There is room for debate on the ineligible receiver downfield penalty that erased Seth Robert’s 60 yard catch and run, but the officials owe the Tigers an apology on the second call.

Toocheck TD ruled incompleteCaldwell’s pass to sophomore receiver Chad Toocheck was ruled incomplete despite the receiver having control of the ball while crossing the goal line. What’s truly troubling is that there wasn’t contact until the receiver reached the middle of the endzone. The Side Judge signaled for the score while the Back Judge signaled incomplete pass. After the officials conferenced, the pass was ruled incomplete. Amazing!

“We got a lot of things to improve on,” said Hall. One of things Coach Hall will have to improve upon is reducing the number of penalties. West Alabama was penalized 18 times for 150 yards.

In comparison, Clark Atlanta was penalized 8 times for 40 yards.

“Starting out that way (playing the 8 th ranked team) it’s a good measuring stick,” said McNeil after the game.

Clark Atlanta travels to Tennessee to play Lane College, a 45-28 winner over Edward Waters College. West Alabama gets a tougher test closer to home when they take on Samford, a 24-21 winner over Furman.

West Alabama Tigers 44 vs Clark Atlanta 0

  • UWA quarterback Gary Johnston warms up before facing the Clark Atlanta defense.

  • Clark Atlanta runs onto the field during opening day introductions.

  • UWA receiver Reggie Hall stretches for yardage after making the reception against the Panthers secondary.

  • CAU linebacker Terence Pryor delivers a hard hit knocking the ball out of the arms of UWA receiver Marcus Brown.

  • CAU DB Stevon McGill jumps on the Marcus Brown fumble.

  • UWA NT Al Irby swallows up CAU RB Dominic Wells.

  • CAU QB Tyree Williams pitches the ball to Antonio Ford.

  • UWA RB Matthew Willis jumps to avoid the backfield tackle from CAU DL Vauchard Goodridge.

  • Placekicker Ryne Smith gets the Tigers on the board with a 36 yard field goal.

  • UWA safety Fred Barnes recovers the ball dropped on the turf by CAU RB Antonio Ford.

  • UWA QB Gary Johnston looks for running room on the keeper.

  • UWA receiver Malik Lofton runs down to the CAU 10 for a 24 yard reception.

  • UWA receiver Seth Roberts gets dragged down along the Tigers sideline

  • CAU DL Vauchard Goodridge celebrates after sacking UWA QB Kyle Caldwell.

  • UWA DT Willie Packer makes a touchdown saving tackle tripping up CAU QB Tyree Williams.

  • UWA RB Matthew Willis outruns the Panthers defense for a 10 yard touchdown.

  • A wall of Tigers defenders stops CAU return man Demetrius Cain.

  • UWA receiver Chad Toocheck makes a reception in the middle of the zone.

  • CAU DB LaRelle Muldrow and LB Rashad Bryant converge to make the stop on UWA receiver Chad Toocheck.

  • CAU DB LaRelle Muldrow saves a touchdown knocking the ball out of the hands of UWA receiver Marcus Brown.

  • UWA DB Shontral Ford fights with CAU receiver Willie Clark for the ball.

  • CAU RB Dominic Wells looks for running room tracked by UWA LB Bryant McGowan.

  • UWA coach Will Hall talks with guard Courtney Easterwood on the sidelines while the Tigers defense takes the field.

  • UWA RB Matthew Willis turns the corner against the Panthers defense.

  • UWA Q Kyle Caldwell throws the ball over the outstretched arms of CAU DL Vauchard Goodridge.

  • UWA QB Kyle Caldwell sets to throw against the CAU defense.

  • UWA receiver Reggie Hall can't haul in the pass from Caldwell.

  • UWA freshman RB Javae Swindle makes a huge hit on CAU return man Demetrius Cain.

  • The huge hit from UWA freshman RB Javae Swindle leaves CAU return man Demetrius Cain rather flat.

  • UWA sophomore LB Tirelle Cullen sacks CAU QB Tyree Williams.

  • UWA RB Danny Hobbs delivers a big hit on CAU returner Demetrius Cain.

  • UWA RB DAnny Hobbs breaks through the Panthers front seven.

  • UWA QB Gary Johnston is brought down by CAU LB S'Cortney Gardner.

  • UWA receiver Malik Lofton is leveled by a CAU defender.

  • UWA DE Derek Jordan forces a fumble tackling CAU QB Charles King.

  • UWA Chad Toocheck makes the catch and steps into the endzone. The score was nullified when a tackle knocked the ball to the turf.

  • UWA RB Matthew Willis strides into the endzone for his third score of the game.

  • UWA RB Dakota Daniel spins out of the grasp of CAU DB Stevon McGill to score the Tigers final touchdown.

  • UWA RB Dakota Daniel scores the Tigers final touchdown on a 14 yard scamper.

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