LIVINGSTON, Ala. (UWA Athletics) - Rogan Wells threw five touchdown passes and Valdosta State piled up 535 total yards on the way to a 58-24 win over No. 8 West Alabama Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
Valdosta State improved its record to 3-0 in the Gulf South Conference opener for both teams. West Alabama dropped to 2-1 and 0-1, losing for just the fourth time in its last 17 conference games.
"We fought to the end, but it just piled up on us," UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. "The biggest thing for us is how we rebound from this. We will come in tomorrow, fix some things, then flush what happened tonight.
"The Gulf South Conference season is a marathon and not a sprint and things have a way of happening," Gilliland said. "We can still be a good football team, but we learned tonight what happens when you make a lot of mistakes."
The 58 points is the most given up during Gilliland's tenure and the most since Valdosta State defeated the Tigers, 55-28, on Oct. 31 of the 2015 season.
Wells completed 24-of-37 passes for 341 yards and the five scores. Brian Saunds and David White had two TD receptions each and Lio'undre Gallimore hauled in the other.
West Alabama opened the scoring when VSU fumbled the opening kickoff and Danny Rambo recovered it at the Blazer 13. Two plays later Harry Satterwhite and Qua Boyd connected on a 13-yard scoring pass.
Valdosta roared back to lead 21-7 at the end of the first quarter and 35-14 at the half. With a 45-21 lead after three quarters the Blazers scored two more times in the fourth and Jordan Bennett made a 32-yard field goal for UWA for the final margin.
Satterwhite completed 17-of-38 for 217 yards and three scores, but was intercepted three times, including two pick sixes. Ravarius Rivers returned an interception 66 yards for a score in the first quarter and Alex Brown took one back 21 yards in the fourth. A third interception return for a TD was called back due to a targeting penalty against the Blazers.
Backup quarterbacks for both teams saw action, with Adam Robles completing 3-of-4 for 59 yards and touchdown pass of 38 yards with the Blazers already leading 52-21. Jacob Murphree was 8-of-15 for 74 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers.
Murphree's first career touchdown pass covered 25 yards to Bayley Blanchard, who hauled it in with one hand midway through the second period.
Boyd caught eight passes for 117 yards to lead West Alabama. Dominique McNealey caught five balls for 37 yards, while Blanchard and Christian Saulsberry caught three each.
Deyon Hill led UWA ball carriers with 55 yards on six carries. Tyler Rogers gained 43 yards on 10 trips.
Kenny Benjamin caught seven passes for 47 yards to lead VSU. Saunds had six reception for 117 yards and Gallimore three for 110.
Safety Tavarius Hutchison led UWA defenders with 12 tackles, including one for loss. Savon Parker and Jordan Graddy had six stops apiece.
Rivers led VSU defenders with eight tackles, seven solo. Craig Watts chipped in seven. Iseoluwapo Jegede recorded two sacks and a tackle for loss for the Blazers.
West Alabama steps out of conference play next week, beginning a three-game road swing at Limestone. Valdosta State is home against Shorter.