By DSU Sports Information
CLEVELAND – It was just his night. With 1:23 on the clock and No. 19 Delta State (4-1, 3-0 GSC) down 37-34 to No. 15 West Alabama (3-2, 1-1 GSC), DSU junior quarterback Micah Davis, who threw for 414 yards and five scores, drove the Statesmen 51 yards in eight plays, connecting with L.J. Castile on a 16-yard, game-winning strike with 19 seconds remaining in the game.
The Statesmen defense made it stand up, as the final horn sounded at Parker Field-McCool Stadium. The victory extended DSU’s win streak to four and avenged last season’s loss to UWA.
Delta State jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, as Micah Davis drove the Statesmen 52 yards for the go ahead score. Davis connected with L.J. Castile on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 13:16 remaining in the opening quarter.
West Alabama answered at the 8:37 mark with a Brock Sharp 27-yard field goal. Deon Williams drove the Tigers 65 yards on 11 plays in 4:33 to cut the DSU lead to four.
After a fumble by Statesmen quarterback Micah Davis, UWA struck quickly as Williams moved the Tigers 32 yards in just seven plays. Once again, Sharp drilled the 32-yard field goal with 4:25 left in the first.
The Statesmen stalled again on offense on their next possession and turned it over on downs to UWA after failing to pick up the necessary yardage on 4th-and-12. UWA took the lead a 9-7 lead on Sharp’s third field goal of the game on the first play of the second quarter.
Delta State finally found some rhythm offensively. Davis march the Statesmen deliberately down the field, finding Dex Hopkins on a 4-yard out route to the pylon and the 14-9 score.
The Tigers once again answered on their next possession. Williams floated a perfect spiral between the defender’s out-stretched hands and into the arms of Kendrick May for the touchdown. With 6:59 to go in the half, UWA led 16-14.
DSU found an answer again, 21-16, as Davis led the Statesmen on a 5:05 drive, finding Castile for his second score of the game, an 8-yard bubble screen to the end zone.
UWA would not be denied, driving 66 yards on just four plays in less than a minute for the 23-21 lead with 1:09 left in the half. Williams hooked up with Mark Weathersby on a 27-yard scoring strike.
The Tigers went into the locker room leading 23-21. UWA amassed 278 yards in the first half on 40 plays, led by Deon Williams’ 192 yards passing on 15-of-25 attempts with two touchdowns. DSU totaled 216 yards on 35 plays. Davis threw for 153 yards on 17-of-22 attempts with three first-half touchdowns.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Statesmen took the lead on their first drive of the fourth, as Brandon Lucas dove into the end zone from 3-yards out. The drive covered 60 yards on 11 plays in just under four minutes for the 27-23 Statesmen lead.
Williams and Tigers answered right back on their next possession, driving 62 yards in 2:56 on eight plays to retake the lead, 30-27, on a 5-yard scoring strike to Randy Lowery with 6:19 remaining in the game.
With just 2:26 left in the game, Statesmen quarterback Micah Davis engineered an 11-play drive, covering 67 yards in 3:57 to wrestle the lead back from the Tigers, 34-30, on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Tim Smith.
Like the plot from the movie “Groundhog Day,” UWA quarterback Deon Williams wasted no time in finding an answer against the Statesmen defense. In just five plays, the Tigers marched 71 yards, as Williams connected with Lowery on a 15-yard scoring pass to regain the lead, 37-34, with 1:23 left.
After Jamarcus Jackson set the Statesmen up at their own 47-yard line with a 22-yard kickoff return, Davis and the Statesmen did what they had done all night – marched methodically down the field to pay dirt. With his back against the wall and the clock against him, Davis completed 5-of-8 passes on the final drive, including a 16-yard jump ball in the end zone to Castile with 19 seconds on the clock for the game-winning touchdown.
UWA had one last chance, but two desperation heaves by Williams fell harmlessly to the turf, as the Statesmen pulled out the hard-fought 41-37 win.
In a game that featured video game type numbers, the two teams combined for 1,072 yards total offense. Delta State finished with 538 yards on 77 plays, while West Alabama amassed 523 on 79 plays. DSU accumulated 412 pass yards, while rushing for 126. UWA passed for 336 and ran for another 187.
DSU’s Davis finished the night with a career-high five touchdown and 414 yards passing on 34 completions to nine different receivers. Castile caught nine passes for 89 yards and three scores, while Maurice Moore grabbed seven passes for 84 yards. Tim Smith also caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Lucas led the Statesmen on the ground with 55 yards on 10 carries with a score.
Garrett Williams and Dominique Davenport led the Statesmen defense with eight tackles each. Preston Felder had six tackles and two break-ups, including a touchdown saving knockdown late in the fourth.
Williams led the Tigers with 371 yards passing and 101 yards rushing with three touchdown passes on the night. He completed 26-of-45 attempts on the evening, led by eight to Lowery for 85 yards and two scores.
The Statesmen will hit the road next Thursday, Oct. 7, traveling to Monticello, Ark., as the Boll Weevils of the University of Arkansas-Monticello plays host to Delta State. GSC-TV Live will broadcast the game on Cox Sports Southeast starting at 7:05 p.m. The Statesmen Sports Network will also have the call starting at 6 p.m. with the “Statesmen Game Day Locker Room Report insured by Shelter Insurance.” Matt Jones, Jimmy Smith and J.T. Webb will have the call.