Saturday night’s home opener did not quite go as planned for the West Georgia Wolves.
Though the UWG faithful showed up and showed out, the large crowd was not enough to will the Wolves to a win. The visiting Albany State Golden Rams shocked West Georgia 26-14 in Carrollton.
For much of the game the Golden Ram defense held West Georgia’s offense in check. There was barely a remnant of a rushing attack, as UWG tallied only 50 yards on 21 rushes.
Senior quarterback Willie Candler completed 24 of 37 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown with one interception. However, the veteran signal caller could not compensate for the lack of a run game and defense against ASU.
Conversely, Albany State rushed for 253 yards and passed for 103. The Golden Rams scored on each of their four red zone trips.
The first score of the game came for the Wolves. Chauncey Williams punched it in from two yards out to give UWG a 7-0 lead. ASU battled back and connected on a touchdown pass to tie it early in the second.
On the ensuing drive, West Georgia drove down the field. Unfortunately, a missed field goal in the red zone kept the game tied. Following a late field goal in the second quarter, the Golden Rams held a 10-7 advantage.
Just before halftime, Candler masterfully led the Wolves down the field. Once again, though, UWG failed to convert in the red zone. The Senior from Atlanta threw an interception at the goal line on the final play of the first half to hand West Georgia its first halftime deficit of 2019.
It would not get better for the Wolves in the second half. The offense failed to garner any consistency and many drives faltered. The Golden Rams, on the other hand, nailed two field goals and scored on a short touchdown run in the third to hold a 23-7 lead heading into the final quarter.
Early in the fourth, ASU hit another field goal to create a 19-point deficit. Though Candler found receiver Tay Huff on a four-yard touchdown pass with a little over a minute left, it was too late. The Wolves fell for the first time of the season by a final score of 26-14.
“A loss like this hurts, but we have to get back on track,” said Head Coach David Dean. “These guys have to keep believing that we can win a championship, but we have to play better.”
On Monday’s edition of the Coaches Show with host Mitch Gray, Dean stated that, “I have had an opportunity to win three national titles. In two of those seasons, we suffered an early loss. In the other, we started out 2-2. It is not about how you start, but how you finish.”
UWG’s next chance to finish strong will come this weekend. The Wolves will travel south to Melbourne, Fl., to take on Florida Tech.
The Wolves and Panthers will kick-off at 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on KISS 102.7 out of Carroll County.