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West Alabama visits Delta State for GSC opener

By Staff
From special reports
Sept. 15, 2001
LIVINGSTON, Ala. The University of West Alabama football team opens conference play on Saturday, Sept. 15, when it travels to Cleveland, Miss. to square off against the defending national champions from Delta State.
The Statesmen lead the series 25-17-3, winning the last seven meetings with UWA. Last year Delta State piled up 522 yards of total offense (295 rushing and 227 passing) en route to winning the contest 33-8.
Delta State is coming off a 25-3 win over NCAA Division I-AA foe Mississippi Valley State. After only surrendering three points in the first half of play, the Statesmen scored 25 unanswered points to take the contest 25-3.
The Tigers returned home after a week one loss to face off against Miles College, in hopes of picking up their first win of the young 2001 season. The Tigers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter on the strength of a stingy defense and a balanced offensive attack. Miles would make a run at the lead in the second quarter, scoring 12 unanswered points before the half. In the second half, UWA held the Golden Bears scoreless, while adding one touchdown in each of the final two stanzas to post the 35-12 victory.
Delta State relies heavily on their ability to run the football with senior quarterback Josh Bright and running back Rico McDonald. Bright has piled up 134 yards on 13 carries, while McDonald has contributed with 103 yards on 18 carries. Junior college transfer Reggie Williams leads DSU's defense. Last week Williams tallied 14 tackles (12 solos), two for loss, and two forced fumbles.
The Tigers come into this weekend's contest with a balanced offense. The Tigers have rolled up 351 yards on the ground, and 237 yards via the pass. Sophomore Presley Gilmore leads the UWA rushing attack with 155 yards on 38 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Sophomore quarterback Brett Gilliland leads an improved Tiger passing attack, completing 9-for-17 passes for 122 yards and only one interception. Gerald Gales leads a talented corps of receivers with seven catches for 101 yards.
West Alabama's defensive attack is led by a hard-hitting group of linebackers. Randall Jones has tallied 16 total tackles, including four for a loss, while fellow linebacker Lorin Lovely has also compiled 16 tackles (8 solos), including four for a loss, and two sacks.
The defensive secondary is led by senior free safety George Bates and cornerback Cedrick Coleman. Bates has lead UWA in tackles the last two years and is among the team leaders in 2001, totaling 12 tackles. Coleman had his best game as a Tiger last weekend against Miles, picking off two Golden Bear passes and returning them for a total of 25 yards. He also broke up four additional passes in a strong UWA secondary performance.
This weekend's meeting will be the conference opener for both teams, and a win could give either squad a leg up in the GSC standings. The outcome will depend heavily on turnovers and defensive play.