Valdosta Daily Times

Top Sports News

October 11, 2013

VSU loses first game of 2013

Livingston, Ala. — West Alabama used a massive second half and roared past top-ranked Valdosta State on Thursday night.

The Tigers scored on all three of their third-quarter possessions and added two more scores in the fourth quarter to secure a 49-30 victory.

“They did a good job against us, especially in the second half,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “They made some great throws and made some great plays. That was the difference.”

Both teams entered the night with perfect records in Gulf South Conference play, but it was West Alabama (5-1, 3-0) that left the stadium in prime position to win a second straight conference title, while the Blazers (4-1, 2-1) are on the outside looking in.

“Our team is a fighter and we will fight,” back Cedric O’Neal said. “We down now and I think we will come back again against West Georgia next week.”

Valdosta State held a slim 16-14 lead following a competitive first half, but West Alabama came out as the better team in the third quarter.

The Tigers needed just 19 plays to rack up 248 yards of total offense and account for three touchdowns, including a 91-yard touchdown pass, in the third quarter.

The offensive production in the quarter more than doubled the Tigers’ offensive total from the first half.

West Alabama entered the night with the nation’s second most productive offense, averaging 571.2 yards per game and over 49 points per game.

On Thursday night, despite the slow first half, the Tigers showed just how prolific their offense is this season. They finished the night with 558 yards of total offense against a Valdosta State defense that entered the night allowing just 304.8 yards a game.

The loss for Valdosta State ended a 14-game winning streak, the second longest streak in the nation — at any level — trailing only Ohio State University. The Blazers' last loss came on Sept. 22 of last season, also coming to West Alabama.

The 12-point win in Valdosta propelled the Tigers to their first GSC championship. But, the Blazers didn’t lose again and secured the top seed in the region and eventually won the national championship.

That thought was on the Blazers’ minds following Thursday night’s loss.

“We love winning,” quarterback Cayden Cochran said. “That is why we come to school here. We will just start another (winning streak) next week."

“It’s like I told our guys in there, this was (West Alabama's) fourth straight Thursday game. We had a short week and had to travel,” Dean said. “They played their butts off. We played hard and we played good football. I told them I was proud of them.”

Kedrick Rhodes and Kyle Caldwell were the obvious playmakers for West Alabama on Thursday night.

After Willie Downs, who left the game with an injury in the second quarter, returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a Valdosta State touchdown, Rhodes caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Gary Johnston to even the score at 7-7 early in the opening quarter.

Valdosta State regained the lead on the Tigers’ following offensive possession when D’Amonte Ridley blocked a West Alabama punt. The kick bounced out the back of the end zone for a VSU safety and a 9-7 lead.

But, West Alabama took its first lead of the game when Rhodes capped off an 85-yard drive for the Tigers with an 8-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

Valdosta State took the lead two possessions later when quarterback Cayden Cochran hit Tyre Waiters on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 2:44 to play in the first half.

The Blazers kept their 16-14 lead at the half, until West Alabama drove 75 yards on its first drive of the second half to take a 21-16 lead.

A 46-yard pass from Caldwell to Chad Toocheck aided the Tigers’ drive. On the play, the Caldwell avoided VSU defenders in the backfield, scrambling to his right before connecting with Toocheck. 

The play reminded Dean of a famous, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Texas A&M.

“He is like Johnny Manziel back there," Dean said. "The guy can just make things happen. He did a great job.”

The following play, Rhodes scored his third touchdown the night, coming on a 16-yard run.

West Alabama added a score on its following drive. Despite starting inside its own 10, UWA needed just three plays to build its largest lead of the game.

On third down, Caldwell connected with Malik Lofton across the middle for a 91-yard touchdown, making the score 28-16.

With the momentum of the game in limbo, the Blazers responded. But it didn’t last long.

Starting their drive inside West Alabama territory, the Blazers capped off a 7-play, 45-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cochran to Seantavius Jones, which brought the score to 28-23.

West Alabama recovered again, responding to Valdosta State’s response. The Tigers scored on two of their next three possessions to build a mammoth 42-23.

Caldwell connected with Seth Roberts on a 19-yard touchdown before connecting with Toocheck on a 10-yard score early in the fourth quarter, which was set up when Valdosta State failed to convert a fake punt inside its own 25-yard line.

Valdosta State scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter when Cochran scrambled 15 yards to cap off a 90-yard drive for the Blazers.

UWA added another touchdown to make the score 49-30. The Blazers, playing against a prevent defense, moved down the field but were intercepted in the end zone.

Caldwell finished the game 9 of 18 for 252 with three touchdowns, while Rhodes led West Alabama with 157 yards rushing with three scores.

Cedric O’Neal recorded his eighth-career 100-yard rushing performance for Valdosta State. The sophomore finished with a team-high 108 yards rushing, moving him into seventh on the school’s all-time rushing list in only 18 career games.

1
Text Only
Top Sports News
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Valwood.jpg A Different Look

    With football summer workouts in full swing, occasionally the intensity and competitive drive can wane going against teammates. But on Friday, Valwood, Brookwood, Lanier County and Tiftarea Academy broke up the monotony by meeting at Goddard Field for a four-team, 7-on-7 passing league.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • pilcher.jpg Berrien competes in 6-team passing camp

    If Ed Pilcher had his way, Berrien High would never throw the football.
    But that doesn't mean the veteran coach doesn't enjoy the opportunity that a passing league, or the six-team passing camp at Cairo on Thursday morning, can provide his Rebels.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bubba Walker promoted to defensive coordinator

    Valdosta State Linebacker Coach Bubba Walker has been promoted to fill the open posiiton of defensive coordinator for the Blazer football team according to an announcement made by VSU Head Coach David Dean Thursday.

    July 18, 2014

  • Albritton wins NCAA Elite 89

    Courtney Albritton's tremendous 2013-2014 season earned her one more award Thursday night when the Valdosta State softball star won the NCAA's Favorite Elite 89 Winner contest by securing the more votes than any other student-athlete.

    July 17, 2014

  • Justin Roper named Valdosta State quarterbacks coach

    Valdosta State’s hirin of Justin Roper as quarterbacks coach, previously reported by The Times, was officially announced by the school and Blazer head football coach David Dean on Wednesday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Lowndes_Tville 2.jpg Sneak Preview

    Fall practice doesn’t start for another eight days.
    Still, Lowndes High and Thomasville High got a sneak preview of what Friday nights will look like Wednesday morning at Martin Stadium.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results