LIVINGSTON, Ala (UWA Athletics) - West Alabama fell behind early and then rallied back to take care of business and defeat Delta State, 27-20, in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division II Football Playoffs Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
The win advances West Alabama into the third round of the playoffs against yet another Gulf South Conference opponent. The Tigers will host West Florida (9-3) next Saturday at noon. The Argonauts eliminated West Georgia, 17-14, in the second round. Delta State ends its season 9-4.
The Tigers improved to 10-2 with the win, making this UWA team the first to notch 10 victories since the 1975 team finished 10-3 and lost in the Division II Semi-finals to Northern Michigan.
"Coach (Todd) Cooley runs a great program and Delta State is a heck of a football team," UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. "We knew it was going to be a challenge and we definitely didn't come out firing on all cylinders, but we buckled down in the second quarter."
Delta State jumped to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Breck Ruddick and a 36-yard field goal by Vince Sciorrotta. The Statesmen outgained the Tigers 167 to 27 yard in the first 15 minutes of the game.
West Alabama returned the favor in the second period, putting up 20 points and 182 yards while limiting Delta State to just 35 yards and no points to take a 20-10 lead into the half.
"That was two good football teams. That second quarter felt like it lasted forever," Delta State head coach Todd Cooley said. "I am so proud of the fight in our kids. We lost to a good football team today. They deserved it."
Harry Satterwhite and Donta Armstrong hooked up for the first of two touchdown passes, this one a 27-yarder. Tyler Rogers and Lakenderic Thomas tacked on 1-yard TD runs for the Tigers, who scored three times in the last 7:32 of the first half.
"That was a big play to get us on the board and get us rolling," Satterwhite said. "Once we get rolling we can be hard to stop, but Delta State is a really good football team and you are not going to score every time you get the ball against them."
Satterwhite and Armstrong connected again from 15 yards out with 11:05 left in the third quarter to stretch the UWA lead to 27-10.
A 6-yard completion to Corey Davis late in the first quarter made Satterwhite the West Alabama single-season record holder for completions. Finishing the day 25-of-37 for 275 yards and two TDs gives the junior from Mobile 303 completions this season, shattering his head coaches' record from 2002 when Gilliland completed 280.
Satterwhite needs just 117 yards passing against West Florida next week to pass current UWA running backs coach Deon Williams for the single season passing yards record. Williams passed for 3,392 yards in 2010.
"I'm not sure about the receivers that Coach G had, but the ones I have are great," Satterwhite said. "When I throw a 50-50 ball I know they are going to go get it, and of course what a job by our offensive line every week. I didn't sacked at all today."
Delta State scored the final 10 points of the game. Chris Robinson had a 5-yard touchdown run and Sciorrotta nailed a 30-yard field goal with 8:41 left to end all scoring.
West Alabama knelt on the ball twice from the DSU 8-yard line to run out the clock and end the game.
UWA finished with 406 total yards and allowed Delta State 371, outgaining the Statesmen 379-204 over the final three quarters of the game. The Statesmen had 276 yards rushing and the Tigers 275 passing.
Ruddick was 17-of-27 passing for 95 yards, but rushed 16 times for 71 yards. Robinson led all ball carriers with 105 yards on 23 carries. LeDarion Peterson carried eight times for 82 yards. Kam Mayers caught eight passes for 30 yards.
Thomas led West Alabama ball carriers with 95 yards on 20 carries, with 33 of those coming on third-and-10 with less than a minute to play to ice the game away. He moved past Tony Truelove (1982-85) into eighth all-time at UWA with 1,732.
Armstrong and Barnard McGhee had six receptions each, Armstrong for 71 yards and McGhee for 45. Corey Davis caught four balls for 72 yards. And Broc Malcom four for 43.
Armstrong now has 172 career receptions, tied for second on the UWA all-time list with Matt Carman (1990-93). Gerald Worsham holds that record with 241 receptions from 2008-11.
"Their quarterback makes the throws and they have two of the best receivers in the nation, and I'm talking about all of Division I and II," Delta State linebacker Landry Tullo said. "They are a great football team. If they don't win the national championship I will be surprised."
Taderion Myhand led West Alabama with 12 total tackles and a forced fumble that led to Tiger points. Jordan Jones racked up 10 stops, Devante Davis nine and Khalia Hackett eight tackles plus three quarterback hurries. Terrence Jones recorded a sack.
Tevin Madison, Nico Peterson and Robert Myers each recovered a fumble, while Madison also forced one and broke up a pass.
Johnquavious McBride had 10 tackles to lead Delta State and Chandler Ector added eight.