It was not pretty, but it was a win- something the Wolves had been searching for since mid-September.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Carrollton, West Georgia found a way to win 44-34 against the visiting Shorter Hawks.
It would not be an easy task for the Wolves. The winless Hawks came to play in a big-time Gulf South Conference matchup. In fact, they even scored first, as a touchdown pass from Tyler Pullum to Jeremy Webb Jr. gave Shorter a 7-0 lead minutes into the game.
West Georgia responded in kind with a ten play, 77-yard drive capped off by a one-yard score by Chauncey Williams. With 7 minutes left in the first, the teams were tied 7-7.
Shorter would break the tie before the first quarter ended on a 28-yard field goal, but UWG took their first lead of the game one play later on an 81-yard pass from Willie Candler to John Hurst. Through one interval, UWG led 14-10.
The back-and-forth game continued into the second. A Nicholas Pope 38-yard field goal brought Shorter within one before Omar Cervantes drilled a 40-yarder of his own to make it a 17-13 game. This would be the score for much of the second. With two minutes and some change left in the first half, Williams punched in his second touchdown run of the day from six yards out. Cervantes connected on a short field goal as time expired in the first half to increase the Wolves’ lead to 27-13.
An early turnover in the second half for UWG allowed Shorter to get back into the game. Trevor Smith converted on a scoring opportunity from one yard out to cut their deficit to seven points. Unfortunately for the Hawks faithful who made the trip from Rome, this is as close as the score would be in the second half.
Chauncey Williams’ third touchdown of the day was a 48-yard rush just over a minute later to once again make it a two-score game. Ole Miss transfer Eric Swinney recorded a rushing score minutes later as well. At the end of the third quarter, the Wolves led commandingly 41-20.
Shorter showed some heart in the fourth quarter. The Hawks outscored the Wolves 14-3 throughout the first half of the fourth, but they were unable to cross the goal-line later in the matchup. The game finished 44-34 in favor of West Georgia.
In a game where they could have laid down and given up at the half, Coach Zach Morrison’s Shorter Hawks showed resiliency and kept fighting throughout- something Shorter has not really been known to do in the midst of their current 44-game losing streak. Some credit is most definitely due to them in that regard.
As for UWG, the win was most definitely what the team needed after two heartbreaking losses in a row. The Wolves amassed nearly 600 yards of total offense with most of that coming through the air. Senior quarterback Willie Candler completed 27 of his 35 pass attempts for 332 yards and one touchdown. Thanks to his efforts, Candler broke the all-time school record for passing yards in a career during Saturday’s game.
Freshman tailback Chauncey Williams rushed for 134 yards and three scores on 16 carries, whereas Eric Swinney netted 30 yards on ten attempts. Another freshman running back, Rajaez Mosley, had his best performance so far as a Wolf. He rushed for 84 yards on eight carries against the Hawks.
The only cause for concern in the matchup for UWG would be defense. The Wolves allowed just over 500 yards of total offense in the victory. They did force two turnovers however: one fumble and one interception.
With the hard-earned victory, West Georgia improved to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in GSC play. Shorter on the other hand dropped their 44th consecutive game dating back to October 2015. The Hawks fell to 0-5 (0-3) in 2019.
Up next for the Wolves is this weekend’s road test at North Greenville. The Crusaders are a relatively new conference foe out of Tigerville, South Carolina. NGU is 2-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play. North Greenville joined the Gulf South Conference just last year after spending 15 years as a Division II Independent. In their most-recent matchup last season, UWG won at home over NGU 31-7.
This weekend’s contest in South Carolina will be a night game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at North Greenville University. The game will be broadcast on KISS 102.7 out of Carrollton.