Written by Gabe Burns, Asst. Sports Editor
A game that had the look of a back-and-forth affair turned into a blowout, as the West Georgia Wolves defeated the Valdosta State Blazers 49-28 in Carrollton on Saturday.
VSU moved to 3-2 on the season after their second straight loss, and is now 0-2 in conference play. UWG is 6-0 and 2-0 in the Gulf South Conference.
For the second straight game, the Blazers’ defense struggled to contain the opposing offense. West Georgia was able to put up 474 yards and took advantage of three VSU turnovers in a row in rout to breaking the game open.
The first half concluded 25-21 in favor of UWG after both teams continued to answer each other. The Wolves scored on their opening possession, but Cedric O’Neal and the VSU offense answered quickly. The Wolves responded and took a 15-7 lead.
The Blazers’ second score of the day came on another O’Neal run. That touchdown was the 37th of his illustrious career, which puts him No. 1 on VSU’s all-time rushing touchdown list. O’Neal finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts.
VSU took the lead on an EJ Hilliard touchdown pass to Dallas Baldner, but West Georgia re-took the lead with another touchdown, and then added a field goal before the intermission.
The wheels fell off for the Blazers in the second half. Back-to-back interceptions contributed to three unanswered scores by the Wolves and VSU could not recover. West Georgia carried a 46-21 advantage into the final stanza.
VSU had 305 total yards, but the turnovers ended any chance the team had at a rally. The Wolves were able to dominate the battle in the trenches and the Blazers could not consistently maintain drives in the second half.
“That was the difference in the game,” said head coach David Dean of his team’s turnovers. “You’ve got to overcome turnovers and you’ve got to overcome big plays, and we didn’t do that today.”
The Blazers defeated UWG in their regular season a meeting ago, but were eliminated from the playoffs by that very Wolves team. VSU will hope that scenario plays out in their favor this season.
Returning to the friendly confines of Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, VSU will host conference-rival Mississippi College this Saturday at 2 p.m. in a contest where both schools desperately need a win.