UWA blasts Miles in NCAA DII first round

LIVINGSTON — The University of West Alabama got three rushing touchdowns from Gary Johnston and two from George Michael Rowe on its way to a 41-7 thrashing of Miles in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday.

The Tigers controlled the game from the outset, managing 31 first downs in the contest while chewing up 578 yards of total offense. The Tigers took 80 snaps in the game, possessing the ball for a total of 38:12.

11/17-2012 — Livingston, Ala. — West Alabama’s George Rowe (26) stiff arms Miles College’s Tyrrell Kinder (22) on a run during the Tigers’ first round playoff win over the Golden Bears.

UWA wasted little time getting on the board as Kyle Caldwell went over the middle to find Malik Lofton on a 40-yard catch-and-run that put the Tigers up with 9:04 left in the first quarter. The scoring connection capped a nine-play drive that covered 87 yards.

UWA then found the end zone twice in the second quarter as Gary Johnston culminated a 13-play, 90-yard drive with a 31-yard touchdown run. Johnston then found the end zone again with 5:04 to go before the half when he scored from three yards out to end a 10-play, 78-yard drive.

On the final play of the first half, Miles blocked a Ryne Smith field goal, snapping his NCAA record for streak for consecutive made field goals at 24.

The Tigers continued their assault in the third quarter as Johnston wrapped up a 13-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. A missed extra point left the Tigers up 27-0.

UWA appeared to have pitched a goal line stand to preserve the shutout before a fourth down pass interference call in the end zone gave Miles new life. Miles capitalized on the opportunity two plays later when Denzel Veale scored on a five-yard run. Patton Chambers added the PAT to cut the deficit to 27-7 with 9:04 to play.

UWA answered back quickly, covering 60 yards in five plays as Rowe went around the left side on a 16-yard run to stretch the Tiger advantage again.

After Shontral Ford recovered a Miles fumble on the ensuing kick, Rowe scored on a nine-yard run with 4:53 left to cap the scoring for the Tigers.

The win moves West Alabama to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs where they will travel to face Valdosta State next week. UWA beat the Blazers 39-28 in Valdosta, Ga. on Sept. 22.