Carrollton, GA – For the first time in the more than 30 years of Division II football at the UWG, a 13th game will be played in a season, as the 6th-seeded West Georgia Wolves held off a second-half onslaught from 3rd-seeded and homestanding Tuskegee.
The Wolves took a 20-17 victory, the first Division II playoff win for a West Georgia team in school history.
The game was everything that it was billed to be, as it was a slobber-knocking defensive battle from the outset that featured 18 punts between the two teams.
West Georgia built a 13-0 lead in the first half, but it was a 27-yard touchdown pass from Dallas Dickey to Shaq Hall with 9:20 left in the game that proved to be the game-winner, as West Georgia’s defense took over from there.
The first quarter of the game was a punting exhibition between the two teams, as West Georgia had two first downs in the opening period that were the only first downs of the quarter.
But with all the punts, head coach Will Hall used All-American candidate punter James Dugan to change field position. As the quarter ended, Dallas Dickey completed a pass to Earvin Anumgba on third down to the Tuskegee 31 and the Wolves were in business.
Another big pass from Dickey to Alex Macaulay put the Wolves inside the Tuskegee 10, and on third-and-goal from the 1, Seth Hinsley pounded the ball in for his 11th touchdown of the season and a 7-0 lead for the Wolves.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, David Singleton picked up his second interception of the season at the Tuskegee 45 and returned it to the 40.
A facemask penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from the Golden Tigers gave the Wolves the ball at the Tuskegee 13. On the first play of the drive, Dickey found Anumgba again, this time in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. The extra-point was no good and West Georgia led 13-0.
After forcing another punt from Tuskegee, the Wolves went on another drive and were inside the Tuskegee 10 and knocking on the door of another score before the penalty bug struck for UWG.
Three striaght holding penalties from West Georgia pushed the Wolves back out of scoring range, and Dugan again pinned Tuskegee down inside their own 10 with a corner punt.
Tuskegee then mounted their first drive of the day, getting a pair of big runs out of the quarterback position, then picked up more yards on a UWG sideline penalty.
The yardage put the Golden Tigers inside the red zone, then Hoderick Lowe put Tuskegee on the UWG doorstep with a run inside the five. On second-and-goal from the 2, Tuskegee quarterback Kevin Lacey tried to strech the ball over the goal line and it was knocked loose by a West Georgia defender and recovered by Kori Gaines to end the scoring threat.
The play came with under a minute to play in the first half, sending the teams to the locker rooms with UWG leading 13-0.
Dallas Dickey was stellar in the passing game in the first half, going 13-of-18 for 100 yards in the half, and Seth Hinsley rushed 12 times for 37 yards to lead the UWG offensive.
The Wolves had 144 total yards in the period, while West Georgia’s defense held Tuskegee to just 81 total yards in the period.
The second half began with Tuskegee taking the ball and the Wolves held them on three-and-out, forcing a punt, but West Georgia was called for roughinig the kicker, giving the Golden Tigers new life. Tuskegee drove into UWG territory, but a sack from Zed Brown pushed them back and forced another punt.
After the two teams traded four punts, Tuskegee took over inside their own 20 and hit a pair of big plays that put the Golden Tigers inside the UWG five yard line. Two plays later, the Tigers scored from two yards out to pull within six points at 13-7.
Tuskegee then made it 10 unanswered points with a field from Trevor Wylie after the game moved into the fourth quarter. With 12:24 left in the game, the Wolves faced a tough challenge, leading by only three in a hostile environment.
Hinsley put the Wolves inside the Tuskegee 30, but the tough Golden Tiger defense forced a 4th-and-8 from their own 27.
Dickey connected with Shaq Hall for perhaps the biggest touchdown of his career, and Hunter Heck’s extra point made the game 20-10 with 9:20 left in the contest.
The UWG defense held again, forced another Tuskegee punt and handed the ball back to Dickey and the offense.
The Wolves’ offensive front then began to assert themselves, as West Georgia marched down the field, taking up huge chunks of land. But a holding penalty stalled the drive and forced another UWG punt.
Another three-and-out from West Georgia forced the Golden Tigers to punt, but a UWG blocker touched the ball on the punt and Tuskegee recovered, giving the home team new life.
A few plays later, Tuskegee scored again, making the game 20-17 with 2:37 left in the playoffs for one of the combatants. On the onside kick, the Golden Tigers were called for illegal touching, giving UWG the ball inside TU terriotory.
Tuskegee held and took over with just over a minute to play. The Golden Tigers got as far as their own 43, but a sack on first and fourth down put the game away, as the Wolves won their first Division II playoff game.