Wolves dominate in first home win over rival

Photo Credit: Caitlin Teknipp

The University of West Georgia (UWG) Wolves defeated the Valdosta State University (VSU) Blazers at home for the first time in University Stadium history. The 17-year drought was ended as UWG continues their undefeated start to the 2015 season, making the team 6-0.

Since the opening of Ra-Lin Field at University Stadium back in the fall of 2009, the Wolves had never been able to defeat the Blazers in front of their home crowd. The Wolves held a 0-3 record against its in-state rival at Ra-Lin Field, despite winning in their most recent meeting, 31-17, at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

The Wolves entered this game against the Blazers in a scenario familiar to last season’s matchup. West Georgia would take the field looking remain undefeated and advance to 6-0 on the season, the same as a year ago.

Last season the Blazers came into the matchup looking to rebound from a 29-31 loss to the University of North Alabama Lions. This season the Blazers came into the matchup after a 12-34 loss to the Lions. Regardless of how familiar the situation was for the Wolves, the biggest difference was the box score.

Opening the game UWG used the first drive of the game to score, the team marched 75 yards on 9 plays, and ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run from quarterback Wil Garrett.

Midway through the second quarter the Blazers led 21-15, marking the first time UWG has trailed in a second quarter this season.

But from that point until the conclusion of the contest West Georgia would dominate. Forcing three turnovers as the Wolves scored 31 unanswered points on their way to a 49-28 victory.

The team’s running back, LeMarcus Franks, carried the ball 17 times for a grand total of 172 yards rushing. This performance comes in Franks’ second start after being hampered by a hamstring injury to begin the season.

“It felt great,” Franks said. “I was pretty down being hurt, so having an amazing game like this really builds me up.”

The Wolves have gotten off to a great start to the season rushing the ball, gaining more yards than any other team in the conference. The rushing attack has been the team’s strength on offense, and is a hallmark of most successful teams.

Collectively the Wolves have rushed for more than 1,000 yards and own the best rushing attack in the Gulf South Conference (GSC). And with Franks healthy, the running back group is poised to finish with potentially record-setting statistics.

Now halfway through the 2015 season, the Wolves are 6-0, and now 2-1 in their last three meetings with VSU. They are 2-0 against conference competition this season, and are now the only undefeated team in the GSC.

This performance also realizes a goal that head coach Will Hall set out to reach at the genesis of his tenure at UWG. A goal any new head coach would find fundamental to success, but a goal that few coaches reach.

“Well, success starts inside of the conference,” says Hall. “So being able to beat those teams on a routine basis is something we have to do immediately.”

With this win West Georgia has defeated all but one of its conference opponents in the regular season since Hall’s arrival. A surprising feat for a program that switched coaching personnel two seasons ago. The North Alabama Lions will come to Carrollton, Ga. for what could be a game between two Top-25 teams. And should the Wolves win, they will have beaten all of its conference opponents.



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