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No. 1 Valdosta State falls to No. 12 UWA 49-30

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Posted at 1:34 PM, Oct 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-11 13:34:00-04
LIVINGSTON, Ala. No. 12 West Alabama used a big third quarter to defeat No. 1 Valdosta State 49-30 in Gulf South Conference football action at Tiger Field Thursday night.
 
With the win, UWA improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in GSC play while the Blazers fell to 4-1 and 2-1 in league action. The loss also snaps VSU's 14-game winning streak, the second-longest in school history.
 
After trailing 16-14 at the halftime break, the Tigers scored on all three of its third quarter possessions while tallying 248 yards of offense in the frame.
 
Willie Downs got Valdosta State on the board first as he fielded the opening kickoff and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown. The return tied the fourth-longest return in Valdosta State history.
 
West Alabama quickly answered as it marched 47 yards on six plays to even the game at 7-7 with 12:20 to play in the first quarter. Malcolm Butler set up the touchdown as he returned the kickoff 52 yards into Blazer territory. The scoring play came when Gary Johnston faked a run and threw a 23-yard pass to Kedrick Rhodes.
 
D'Amonte Ridley put the Blazers back in front on the next UWA drive as he blocked a Jordan Ikner punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
 
Rhodes gave UWA its first lead of the game with 12:32 to play in the second quarter as he capped off an eight-play, 85-yard drive with an eight-yard run for a touchdown. The big play on the drive came on a 22-yard catch by Seth Roberts, who later drew a pass interference call to move the ball into Valdosta State territory. Rhodes picked up the final 45 yards of the drive.
 
Valdosta State regained the advantage six minutes later as Tyre Waiters caught his first career touchdown. After a run and an incomplete pass netted just a yard to open the drive, Downs caught a 16-yard pass to keep VSU on the move. A penalty gave the Blazers five more yards before Cedric O'Neal burst through the line for a 19-yard gain to the UWA 13. Cayden Cochran picked up a yard on a carry, but Regginald Lewis was dropped for a four-yard loss on a shovel pass to set up the Waiters touchdown reception with 6:10 remaining in the half that gave VSU a 16-14 lead at the intermission.
 
The Tigers regained the lead on the opening drive of the second half as Rhodes scored his second rushing touchdown, and third overall, of the game. The key play of the drive came on a third and 24 play when Kyle Caldwell twice scrambled away from a VSU defender twice before completing a 46-yard pass to Chad Toocheck. On the next play, Rhodes took the hand-off and scored from 15 yards out to put UWA in front 21-16.
 
After forcing a Blazer punt, West Alabama pushed its lead to 28-16 Malik Lofton caught a 91-yard pass.
 
Valdosta State answered on its next drive with a seven-play, 45-yard drive capped off by a 29-yard catch by Seantavius Jones. After a holding penalty on the first play of the drive backed the Blazers up, Cochran completed three o f his four passes for 47 yards and also carried the ball twice for seven more yards. Jones hauled in the final pass and spun to the sideline to evade a defender before scoring the touchdown that cut the VSU deficit to 28-23.
 
Caldwell found Seth Roberts for a 19-yard touchdown pass on the next West Alabama possession and later added a 10-yard touchdown pass to Toocheck to push the UWA lead to 42-23 with 12:06 to play in the game.
 
The Blazers used a nine-play, 90-yard drive to cut its deficit to 12 points when Cochran scored on a 15-yard run, but Caldwell threw his fourth touchdown pass of the on the ensuing UWA drive to close out the scoring.
 
Valdosta State finished the game with 418 yards of total offense, including 232 passing by Cochran. O'Neal gained 108 yards on the ground, his eighth career 100-yard game, while Jones caught seven passes for 87 yards.
 
Jeremy Grable had 10 tackles to lead the VSU defense while Chris Pope finished with eight, including a sack.
 
Valdosta State returns to action Saturday, October 19 when it travels to Carrollton, Ga. to face West Georgia in a GSC game. Kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m.