The University of West Georgia football team came up short of recapturing the Peach Basket when they fell to in-state rivals Valdosta State this past Saturday in Carrollton. The final score was 35-30 in favor of the Blazers and brings UWG’s record to 4-3 on the season.
The Wolves had a 17-0 lead in the third quarter before Valdosta State rallied off four straight touchdowns to take a 28-17 lead with 6:21 remaining in the game. West Georgia didn’t give up and was able to string together a few late scores to make the game interesting but in the end The Blazers had the ball and claimed their second straight victory over the Wolves.
Dallas Dickey played all but one snap at quarterback in the contest, going 11-21 through the air for 230 yards and two touchdowns. Dickey was also West Georgia’s leading rusher with 117 yards on the ground.
With 1:30 left in the game Dickey connected with junior wide receiver Denarius Appling for an eight yard touchdown that brought the deficit to within one score. But the Wolves failed to claim the onside kick and Valdosta regained control.
Appling scored two touchdowns in the game; the first came in the third quarter when Dickey connected with Appling for a 63-yard bomb that put the Wolves up 17-0.
West Georgia’s defense held Valdosta’s high powered offense in check for the first half, holding the Blazers to only 101 yards of total offense. The UWG defense held up until Valdosta’s senior quarterback Cayden Cochran went down with an injury.
The Blazers received new life when freshman quarterback Kaleb Nobles entered the game. Nobles led the comeback for Valdosta and had a monster game, going an amazing 19-21 through the air for 238 yards and four touchdowns.
“They’re a good football team and they got a lot of really good players, they’re going to make a run at you,” said West Georgia head coach Daryl Dickey. “We had them stopped a couple of times and had to get put back on the field.”
The freshman’s favorite target was senior Seantavious Jones who also had a big game, catching a career-high eleven passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns. The Wolves truly had no match for Jones, he didn’t see the ball thrown to him too much when Cochran was at the helm, but as soon as Nobles entered the game he got some calls.
What really hurt the Wolves was a couple crucial mistakes they made late in the game. On two different drives the Blazers were held to a field goal but received second life when two roughing the kicker penalties were called on West Georgia.
Also, late in the fourth quarter the Wolves were set to get the ball back after holding Valdosta to a three-and-out but had twelve men on the field on the punt, giving the Blazers another shot on offense. Valdosta scored touchdowns after all three of those mistakes, truly making it the difference in the game.
“It’s two weeks in a row we’ve made mistakes that have kept us from winning ball games and that’s a shame because we’re good enough to win,” said Dickey.
Junior running back Derick Seward Gave hope to the Wolves with 6:06 left in the game when he returned a kickoff for a 93-yard touchdown, bringing the score to 28-24.
But the Blazers answered back when sophomore running back Cedric O’Neal scored from six yards out.
Next up for West Georgia is West Alabama who is currently at the top of the Gulf South Conference Standings and ranked 8th in the country.