West Alabama second in first NCAA Region Two poll

The initial NCAA Division II Super Region Two Poll has been released and West Alabama holds the No. 2 spot. The Tigers are 6-1 in Division II play.

Wingate holds the top spot with a 7-0 record against Division II opponents. The top seven region finishers after the regular season earn a berth in the 2017 NCAA Football Playoffs. The top seed will earn a first-round bye.

Virginia State (6-0) is third in the region, followed by Bowie State (7-1), Delta State (6-2), West Georgia (6-2) and Catawba (5-2) in the top seven. Eight through 10 is Albany State (5-3), Miles (5-2) and Virginia Union (5-2).

The NCAA Division II Playoffs begin Nov. 18.

UWA overcomes deficit for win over nationally-ranked West Georgia

Tra Fletcher scores on a 34-yard pass from Harry Satterwhite with 3:22 to play Saturday night, pushing UWA over West Georgia.

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Harry Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherconnected on a 34-yard pass and run with 3:22 left to play, completing a 34-31 come-from-behind West Alabama victory over West Georgia in a battle of two nationally-ranked teams Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

Ranked 15th in the D2Football poll and 23rd in the AFCA poll, West Alabama extended its winning streak to five games by beating a ranked opponent for the third time in four weeks. The Tigers are 6-1 overall and 5-0 in Gulf South Conference play.

West Georgia, ranked 17th and 22nd, had its winning streak snapped at three games, dropping to 5-2 and 2-2. Both Wolves losses have come on the road to nationally-ranked opponents.

When Fletcher weaved his way into the north endzone with the game winner, it marked the only time West Alabama led in the game. West Georgia led 28-17 at the half, but the Tiger defense limited the GSC’s top total offensive team to just three points in the final 30 minutes.

“That was my first game-winner,” Fletcher said. “They play wasn’t intended for me, but Harry was scrambling so I came back to the ball and just made a play.”

West Alabama was forced to kick off from its own 20-yard line following Fletcher’s game-winner due to an excessive celebration penalty. The Wolves drove to the UWA 23 before Jordan Jones blocked a 31-yard field goal attempts Trey Wiggins, but UWG was called for delay of game and handed another play to either tie or take the lead.

The Wolves opted to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Tiger 28 and Candler’s pass was picked off by Tiger linebacker Khalia Hackett.

With three West Georgia timeouts left, the Tigers were forced to punt, giving West Georgia one last shot from its own 16 with three seconds to play. Willie Candler completed a 28-yard pass to Shannon Smith as time expired.

“We executed and did just enough to win, but we also did just enough to lose,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “I am proud of our defense, especially in the second half to hold a great West Georgia offense to just three points.

“We challenged our players about our energy and intensity at the half,” Gilliland said. “It was an emotional game with a lot of ups and downs.”

UWA’s 34 points is the most given up by West Georgia this season. The Wolves came into the game as the top scoring defense in the GSC, allowing just 14.2 points per game.

Satterwhite celebrated his 22nd birthday by completing 29-of-42 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Candler was 13-of-21 for 212 yards, one TD and one interception.

“We had some mistakes, but that’s a really good football team,” Satterwhite said. “We just try to control what we can control and our playmakers made plays at the end. If we can get the ball to those guys in space, they can make plays.”

In addition to the game-winner to Fletcher, Satterwhite also hooked up with Corey Davis for scoring tosses of 26 and 16 yards. Lakendric Thomas scored on a 3-yard run, while Colin Douglas made field goals from 27 and 36 yards to complete UWA scoring.

“West Georgia has some great defensive backs,” Davis said. “It was a rollercoaster ride, but we kept the faith, played as a team and came out with the victory.”

The game began with a penalty and points for West Georgia. The Wolves were penalized 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct during warmups, but Devontae Jackson returned the opening kickoff from his own endzone to spot the Wolves a 7-0 lead.

Jackson scored again in the first quarter on a 77-yard run and Candler connected with Mikell Lands-Davis to give West Georgia a 21-14 lead after one quarter, marking the most points UWA had allowed in the first period this season.

Candler used his legs to score again before the half on a 6-yard run with 8:25 to play in the second quarter. It would be the final time West Georgia visited the endzone. UWA outscored the Wolves 17-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Jackson led all rushers with 169 yards on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 59 yards and returned four kickoffs for 145 yards while amassing 373 all-purpose yards.

“Jackson is a really good back. Arm tackling won’t work on him,” Tiger linebacker Terry Samuel said. “We just had to bow our back and be relentless. We knew we had to stop them.”

Davis led all receivers with eight catches for 79 yards, followed by Donta Armstrong with six for 69 yards and Qua Boydwith five for 69 yards. Thomas was the leading rusher for UWA with 62 yards on 15 carries.

Taderion Myhand piled up 12 tackles, nine solo, for West Alabama to lead all tacklers in the game. Samuel added 10 more. Myhand had 1.5 tackles for loss and Samuels two more. Terrence Jones and Michael Williams each recorded a sack for the Tigers. Tevin Madison recovered a fumble.

Cameron Magee had 10 tackles for the Wolves, followed by Korie Rogers with nine. UWG managed just three tackles for loss, with two of those coming on sacks by Deondre Gardenhire and Chad Price.

West Alabama remains in GSC play next week, traveling to Florida Tech (4-3) for a 1 p.m. CDT kickoff in Melbourne. West Georgia stays on the road to face Mississippi College (0-7).

UWA outlasts No. 9 Delta State for GSC win

CLEVELAND, Miss. – In a top 25 match-up that featured the top two offenses in the Gulf South Conference, it was the defenses and special teams that were the difference in a 29-26 West Alabama victory over Delta State Saturday at McCool Stadium.
The victory leaves West Alabama 5-1 overall and the only undefeated team in the GSC at 4-0. Delta State dropped to 5-1 and 3-1.
West Alabama built a 29-10 lead after three quarters, only to see Delta State cut the lead to the final margin before Vince Sciorrotta’s 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 1:05 left in the game.
“This was a GSC game on the road versus a great football team,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “They are the No. 9 team in the country for a reason.
“They are a playoff team and I hope we are,” Gilliland said. “We made some mistakes tonight that we haven’t done all year, and a good team like Delta State will take advantage of that.”
Hanging on to a 29-24 lead with 3:53 left, Delta State picked up a safety when a Tiger punt snap sailed over punter Zach Gaines head and out of the end zone. After trading punts, the Statesmen had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Sciorrotta’s miss sealed the deal.
Delta State started fast, picking up 89 yards on its first two drives, but the Tiger defense limited the league’s top rushing offense to just 36 yards on the next seven drives. The game of runs didn’t end there, however.
The Tigers and Statesmen traded interceptions right before the half. Tevin Madison corralled his third of the year off man coverage deep in UWA territory, but DSU returned the favor when Jamoral Graham intercepted Harry Satterwhiteto set up a Statesmen TD on a 54-yard pass from Collin Willis to Willis Chambers to make the halftime score 16-7 UWA.
West Alabama took control of the football game in the third quarter, outgaining Delta State 180 to 42 total yards, only to see the Statesmen outgain the Tigers 148-0 in the fourth period.
“That was a long, tough night,” UWA offensive tackle Dontavius Blair said. “Our defense really stepped up big and pulled on their big boy underwear. This was a night for big boys.”
Colin Douglas opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal at 10:08 in the second period. Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherhooked up on a 42-yard scoring pass and Taderion Myhand scooped up a DSU fumble and returned it 23 yards for a TD with 2:42 left in the half.
Tyler Rogers popped a 62-yard run for a touchdown with just two minutes gone in the second half to stretch UWA’s lead to 22-10, but the two-point attempt failed. A 38-yard Sciorrotta field goal and a 1-yard plunge by Lakenderic Thomas gave the Tigers a 29-10 lead after three periods.
“We had to fight for everything we got tonight,” Rogers said. “We tried to pound them all night and I just saw an opening on the long run. We had to fight for all we got.”
Willis scored on a 4-yard run and Sciorrotta kicked two more field goals, from 43 and 32 yards, in the fourth quarter.
Satterwhite finished 17-of-34 for 189 yards, a TD and an interception. Willis completed 20-of-37 for 230 yards and a score after replacing starter Breck Ruddick, who was pulled late in the second quarter after completing 16-of-27 for 74 yards.
West Alabama stymied Chris Robinson, the leading rusher in the GSC, to just 16 yards on 12 carries. Ruddick led the Statesmen with 47 yards on seven trips. Kam Myers had nine receptions for 78 yards and Mario Lanier caught seven for 53 yards.
Thomas led UWA rushers with 80 yards on 26 carries, followed by Rogers with 70 yards on five rushes. Donta Armstrong led Tiger receivers with six catches for 36 yards. Fletcher caught four for 64 yards.
Terry Samuel led West Alabama defenders with 11.5 tackles, followed by Devante Davis with 9.5. West Alabama had seven sacks to increase the total over the last three games to 19. The Tiger offensive line did not allow a Satterwhite sack.
“We knew they had a great offense and we got what we expected from them” UWA defensive lineman Ashton Dericosaid. “We got what we expected from a great team. I am glad to come out of here with a win.”
The Tigers had 12 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers. UWA lost one fumble.
West Alabama returns to Tiger Stadium to host West Georgia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Delta State travels to West Florida.

Tigers handle Mississippi College, 42-13, in GSC opener

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – West Alabama outgained Mississippi College by just three total yards, but the stat sheet doesn’t decide the outcome the way trips to the endzone do.

When the humid evening at Tiger Stadium was done Saturday, West Alabama had made it to the endzone five more times than MC on the way to a 42-13 Gulf South Conference victory.

West Alabama (2-1) had 391 total yards to 388 for Mississippi College (0-3), but the Tigers blocked two punts, one for a touchdown, and ended the night clearing the bench for the final minutes of the game.

Averaging 43 points per game, West Alabama scored four times via the run to cap extended drives, once on a long pass and on the blocked punt in the third period. Baylee Blanchard blocked the punt and Seth Knotts covered it in the MC endzone to effectively put the game away with 4:12 left in the third period.

“The biggest thing is we made plays,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “That’s what our offense is designed to do and we definitely made them when we needed to tonight.

“Anytime you can block two punts and it leads to scores, that’s big,” Gilliland said. “It’s been a big week for Coach (Lamont) Seward. He and his wife Bebe had a new baby and his special teams blocked two punts. Of course, the latter doesn’t come close to comparing to the former.”

Seven of 10 West Alabama drives ended in touchdowns. The Tigers lost two fumbles and Zach Gaines punted once for 62 yards.

Mississippi College’s only TD came on an 87-yard pass from Ty Jobe to Nathan Faciane, taking advantage of a blown Tiger coverage down the left sideline. A pair of field goals by Greg Nickles from 24 and 23 yards completed the Choctaw scoring.

UWA answered the MC bomb with a 4-yard TD run by Rashaad Lee, who would score later on a 2-yard run and finish the game with 99-yards on 13 carries. Lakendric Thomas and Tevin Moore scored on runs of five and 23 yards for the Tigers.

In addition to the two blocked punts, the West Alabama defense forced Mississippi College to turn the ball over on downs three times, giving the Tigers seven fourth-down stops in eight attempts this season.

“It’s always good when you can make those fourth-down stops,” cornerback Tevin Madison said. “We want to kill a fly with a sledgehammer, just keep beating folks down.”

Harry Satterwhite and Donta Armstrong hooked up for the third time in the last two games, this one a 34-yard scoring toss to make the score 21-7 with 2:14 left in the half.

“Anytime you can get Donta Armstrong one-on-one he will make the play,” Satterwhite said. “He just beat the guy deep and I hit him.”

Satterwhite finished 29-for-35 for 215 yards and the TD. Armstrong had eight receptions for 83 yards and a score, followed by Broc Malcom with six catches for 43 yards. Qua Boyd and Lee both had four receptions for UWA.

Ken Hibbler and Madison combined for 27 tackles. Madison had 13 stops while forcing and recovered a fumble. Ten of Hibbler’s 14 stops were solo. Terry Samuel chipped in nine tackles for UWA, who had five tackles for loss.

The Tigers limited Mississippi College to just 106 yards rushing.

“Those kind of games come from playing within the system and executing fundamentals,” Hibbler said. “You just read your keys and get to the football.”

Jobe completed 18-of-29 passes for 256 yards. Ja’Moz Mark caught six passes for 59 yards and Tiberias Lampkin had 36 yards rushing on 14 carries for the Choctaws.

West Alabama hits the road for the third time in the first four weeks of the season, traveling to North Alabama on Saturday. Mississippi College is host to Florida Tech.

UWA to offer study abroad opportunity in Ireland November 2018

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama has announced its inaugural short-term, faculty-led study abroad program, with plans for travel to Ireland’s County Donegal in November 2018.

Students participate by enrolling in the course, “The U.S. and Ireland: Culture, Nation, and the State,” for a semester and study comparatively anthropology, literature, and history.

The study will explore why complex cultures form, how national identities emerge, and the ways those give rise to modern states. The term will be capped by an 11-day journey to the Emerald Isle for intensive, hands-on explorations across six millennia of human settlement. Undergraduate and graduate students alike are encouraged to participate, as are both majors and non-majors.

Dr. Rob Riser, associate professor of history at UWA, is the program director and has high expectations for the program.

“I am particularly excited for students to have the opportunity to study an array of human pursuits on the ground, in tactile fashion,” he said. “Really, there’s no study destination that better encapsulates these things than Ireland.”

UWA students have the opportunity to participate in semester-long exchange programs, but those are sometimes impractical for many students who may have other financial or time obligations. But according to Riser, the students who stand to benefit most from overseas study may be those who can least afford it.

“We’ve changed that with ‘UWA in Ireland,’ Riser explained. “By opening registration so far in advance, and by compressing the travel schedule, we intend to ease both the financial burdens and time demands upon students and their families.”

Riser has led efforts to launch the program, with special attention paid to controlling costs. The cost to enroll for credit-seeking students will be $1,750, and that includes all in-country transfers, mandatory insurance, room and board, and entry fees. Non-students may participate as well at the cost of $2,250.

According to UWA Provost Tim Edwards, this program’s financial structure reflects UWA’s ongoing commitment to control costs of attendance and opportunity for students.

“This is a real opportunity for UWA students to gain a valuable study abroad experience at an extremely affordable price point,” Edwards suggested. “Ample research shows that study abroad experience actually makes a recent college graduate more marketable as he or she enters the job market.”

Organizers have initiated fundraising efforts to further offset students’ program and travel costs. A “UWA Ireland” fund has been established with the UWA Foundation, and anyone who would like to contribute any amount may contact the Advancement Office to make a pledge. Limited edition program t-shirts are also on sale for $25, all proceeds benefitting students.

Program slots will be reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis. Participants are urged to apply early. The University has made reservations for a guaranteed maximum of 25 participants.

“We don’t expect to fall short of our goal,” Riser said “because no one will want to miss out on this.”

A twenty-four-page program viewbook is available at: http://online.flowpaper.com/ 7cbf0771/ UWAinIrelandViewbook71117/.

For more information, contact Dr. Rob Riser at (205) 652-3638 or email ireland@uwa.edu. Follow the program on Facebook at “UWA in Ireland.”

UWA rolls over Lenoir Rhyne in season opener

HICKORY, N.C. – West Alabama amassed 481 yards of total offense while limiting Lenoir-Rhyne to just 184 on the way to a 46-7 college football win in the season opener for both teams Thursday at Moretz Stadium.

“We are 1-0 and that feels good,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “Anytime you can start with a region win after an eight-hour bus trip that says a lot about your football team.

“We started fast, especially on defense,” Gilliland said. “We caused turnovers and we were ready to play, ready to hit somebody else after fall camp.”

After being forced to punt on its first two possessions, West Alabama got on the scoreboard first on a 32-yard field goal by Colin Douglas, the first of four field goals by Douglas. He also connected from 20, 30 and 33 yards.

Three plays after Douglas’ first field goal, Ken Hibbler intercepted Bears quarterback Jarrod Keller to give the Tigers the ball on the Lenoir-Rhyne 45-yard line. Harry Satterwhite connected with Qua Davis for 34 yards on the first play after the interception and then with Corey Davis for 11 yards and a touchdown on the next play to give UWA a 10-0 lead at 5:01 in the first quarter.

After picking up a handful of spot starts over the last two seasons, Satterwhite completed 26-of-40 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. He also rushed for 17 yards and a TD on six carries.

“In the beginning, I was playing a little too fast, but by about the third drive I began to feel comfortable,” Satterwhite said. “We have so many weapons that I just need to get the ball to the guys quickly. The running backs had a good night, but thanks to the offensive line nobody was touching them until about three or four yards past the line of scrimmage, then they broke tackles.”

Tevin Madison recovered a Bear fumble to set up the Tigers second touchdown. Lakendric Thomas capped a five-play, 38-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, lifting the Tigers to a 17-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the first period.

West Alabama stretched the lead to 24-0 when Satterwhite scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown with just over nine minutes left in the first half. The score capped a 13-play, 66-yard drive for the Tigers.

“Harry had a solid game and the receiver caught it well, but the story was the defense,” Gilliland said. “The defense pursued, hit people and drove them backwards. That’s what you want to see.”

Terry Samuel and Madison led the Tiger defense with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Madison broke up three passes, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as the Tiger defense allowed just 11 first downs.

Rashaad Lee got into the scoring column with a 1-yard TD run with 2:59 left in the first half. The point after touchdown snap was botched and West Alabama led 30-0. Lee’s score capped a seven-play, 46-yard drive.

Lee finished with 98 yards on 14 carries, all in the first half, to lead UWA rushers. He also caught five passes for 14 yards. Qua Boyd had four receptions for 66 yards. Donta Armstrong, Corey Davis and Tyler Rogers each caught three passes. Rogers also ran for 70 yards on 11 carries.

“This was a pretty good way to start my last go-around,” Lee, the senior from Pensacola, Florida said. “The execution of the offensive line was good all night.”

Douglas drilled a 20-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to send West Alabama to the intermission with a 33-0 lead.

Lenoir-Rhyne got on the board with 2:17 left in the third quarter when Grayson Willingham connected with Sam Camargo for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap a three-play, 10-yard drive after the Bears blocked a Tiger punt.

“I was praying for the shutout, but this isn’t a bad way to start,” Madison said. “We still have a lot to fix, though.”

Douglas nailed his fourth field goal from 33 yards with 6:54 left to play, capping a 15-play, 76-yard drive that drained 5:02 off the fourth-quarter clock.

Robert Myers capped West Alabama scoring with a 1-yard plunge with 3:08 left to play. Douglas’ PAT made it 46-7 West Alabama. The scoring drive was set up when Jordan Bennett recovered a Bear fumble on the kickoff following Douglas’ fourth field goal.

Nelson Brown had 76 yards on 22 carries to lead Lenoir-Rhyne. Two Bear quarterbacks combined to complete 11-of-28 for 68 yards. Sherrod Williams had 10 tackles for the Bears.

West Alabama remains on the road next week, visiting FCS member Samford in Birmingham. Lenoir-Rhyne remains at home, hosting North Greenville on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Pride, Headley earn preseason All-Conference team bids

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – TeMia Pride and Aleah Headley have been named to the 2017 Gulf South Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason All-GSC Team in an announcement on Thursday. West Alabama is ranked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Pride, a forward from Huntsville, Alabama, returns to the Tiger attack after a standout freshman campaign in 2016. The Tigers’ striker led the team in goals (13), game-winners (4), points (28), shots (71) and shots-on-goal (42). Pride’s offensive stats also rank in the top five across the GSC, earning the rising sophomore a First Team All-Conference nod.
Headley, a midfielder hailing from Tilbury, England, was also awarded a spot on the preseason All-GSC squad after leading UWA in the middle third of the pitch a season ago. Headley transitioned from defender to attacker, dispossessing opponents and setting up the UWA attack.
Defending league champion West Florida was picked to repeat their success in 2017, receiving 12-of-14 first-place votes and 168 points. Lee grabbed the remaining two first-place votes, following the Argos with 155 points.
Mississippi College (141) and North Alabama (129) sit third and fourth in the poll, while West Alabama (121) rounds out the top five.
Incoming Tiger defenders Brianna Forrest and Lexi Pund were selected as two of the GSC’s Top Newcomers for the 2017 season. Forrest, a Canadian transplant, is a two-time Most Valuable Player and Student Athlete of the Year at St. Stephens’ Catholic in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Pund, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, took home First Team All-Area and Offensive MVP honors in 2016, netting 26 goals for Tupelo High School.
West Alabama opens the 2017 season under the lights at Tiger Stadium, facing off against South Atlantic Conference co-champions Tusculum College on Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.

UWA football six days into camp with no surprises

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – West Alabama head football coach Brett Gilliland has seen his team through six practices since preseason camp began – two in helmets, two in shells and two in full gear – and he hasn’t changed his mind.
With 28 seniors and 19 returning starters on offense (9), defense (7) and special teams (3), the former Tiger quarterback is expecting great things from this 2017 team, his fourth at West Alabama.
“We are pretty close to where we thought we would be. We didn’t have a lot of unanswered questions coming into fall camp,” Gilliland said. “Obviously, there are concerns in certain spots, as there always are, but a lot of our guys have put a lot of offseason work in and it shows.
“It shows with their effort at practice, and it shows when they are not passing out with the tempo we practice with,” Gilliland said. “We like to exert them in practice, to push them. They are responding well to that.”
Any remaining questions will begin to be answered when the Tigers conduct the first game-type scrimmage of camp Saturday morning at Tiger Stadium. Gilliland and his staff will put the Tigers through their paces in full gear Thursday and in shells Friday prior to the scrimmage.
“The scrimmage will be the first true test, especially for some of the new guys, and it will be the first big test for the quarterbacks,” Gilliland said. “Instead of getting four-play sets, you are going to get a drive. Let’s see which quarterback drives the team and moves the offense.”
Junior Harry Satterwhite, who has played in 13 games and passed for more than 1,300 yards over the last two seasons, emerged from spring as the leader at quarterback, but is being challenged by Gabe Tiller, along with newcomers Austin Bray and Jacob Murphree.
“Will know a lot more after Saturday as far as who goes where and can begin moving forward some on game prep,” Gilliland said. “We have a good football team. We still have things to iron out, but we like the athleticism that we have.”
One thing Tiger fans might notice is a more athletic, faster defense. Gilliland said he liked the work of defensive backs Tevin Madison and Khalia Hackett, along with defensive linemen Michael Williams, Terrence Jones and Ashton Derico. Madison transferred from Texas Tech and Hackett from Arkansas.
Saturday’s scrimmage is open to the public with just a couple of caveats.
“The scrimmage is open, unless of course you are an opponent,” Gilliland said. “We also won’t accept any videoing during the scrimmage, so if you come with a video camera, we will ask you put it up. (Strength coach) Joe Boyd will be on video patrol.”
The team takes the field at 10:15 a.m. and scrimmaging should begin around 10:30.

Four Tigers names preseason All-GSC, UWA is league favorite

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four West Alabama student-athletes were selected to the 2017 Gulf South Conference Men’s Soccer Preseason All-GSC Team as Jack Shiels, Jamie Cox, Harrison Roberts and Liam Ireland each received the honor on Wednesday. The Tigers were voted preseason favorites by league coaches.

Shiels, hailing from Manchester, England, and Cox, a native of Sallins, Ireland, both return to bolster one of the toughest defensive units in the GSC. The two defenders helped anchor a backline that held opponents to the league’s second-fewest goals allowed (23) and goals-against-average (1.21) in 2016.

Ireland and Roberts return to the midfield after helping the UWA attack post the GSC’s second-highest scoring margin (1.05) in 2016, outscoring opponents 43-23 through 19 matches. Ireland netted four goals (two of which were good for game-winners) while dishing out seven assists, and Roberts tallied five goals and four helpers from the middle of the pitch.

West Alabama, coming off of its third consecutive GSC Tournament Title in 2016, received six first-place votes and 93 overall points, edging out West Florida as the league favorites for 2017. The Argos grabbed four first-place votes and 90 points in the poll.

Mississippi College, the 2016 GSC Regular Season Champion, received one first-place vote and 86 total points, landing third in the preseason rankings. Montevallo (60 points), who returns to the conference after nine seasons in the Peach Belt Conference, and Lee (59 points) complete the preseason top five.

International transfers Kyle McLeod (Montrose, Scotland) and Ali Brador (Ronchin, France) were selected as two of the GSC’s Top Newcomers, filling in vacancies in the Tiger attack as two of UWA’s newest forwards.

West Alabama will officially kick-off the 2017 season at Union (Tenn.) in a non-conference road contest set for Aug. 31 at 7:15 p.m. The Tigers will open the home portion of the schedule against Mobile on Sept. 4. Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.

Four UWA players earn preseason All-GSC

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four West Alabama players have been selected by league coaches to the 2017 Preseason All-Gulf South Conference Football Team and the Tigers have been picked by the coaches to finish fifth in the league.
Wide receiver Donta Armstrong, defensive end Darius Ellis, linebacker Terry Samuel and place kicker Jordan Bennettwere tabbed by the coaches as members of the preseason all-conference team.
Teams received eight points for a first-place vote, seven for second, etc. Head coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team. Vote totals are listed parenthetically in the next paragraph.
North Alabama (62 points, 7 first place votes) is the coaches’ preseason league favorite, followed by Valdosta State (54, 1), West Georgia (49, 1), Florida Tech (47) and West Alabama (32). Delta State (31), West Florida (25), Mississippi College (16) and Shorter (8) round out the preseason rankings.
Armstrong was an All-Gulf South Conference, All-Region and All-America selection in 2016. He had a GSC-leading 91 receptions for 904 yards with six receiving touchdowns. He led UWA with 1,195 all-purpose yards.
Ellis earned All-GSC and All-South Region honors in 2016 while leading the GSC in tackles for loss with 20 for minus-108 yards. He led UWA tacklers with 42, 32 solo, and recorded 10 sacks. Forty-eight percent of his total tackles came behind opponent’s line of scrimmage.
Samuel recorded 37 total tackles, 23 solo, last season. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss (-27) and was credited with three sacks (-23). He also intercepted one pass and returned it 43 yards.
Bennett was also a 2016 All-GSC selection after leading UWA in scoring with 62 points. He made 10-of-14 field goals (71%) with a long field goal of 48 yards at Stephen F. Austin. Bennett converted 32-of-35 extra points.
Four other Tigers were recognized as 2017 newcomers to watch. Included in that group are offensive tackle Dontavius Blair, safety Khalia Hackett, cornerback Tevin Madison and receiver Broc Malcom. All four are transfers from FBS schools, with Blair coming from Tennessee, Hackett from Arkansas, Madison from Texas Tech and Malcom from Idaho State.
The Tigers open the 2017 season on Aug. 31 at Lenoir Rhyne.