UWA honors Butler at spring game

rp_primary_IM2_0012LIVINGSTON, Ala. – On an evening when a Super Bowl hero and former All-American defensive back was honored in pregame ceremonies, it was a kicker who signed at mid-year who stole the show at West Alabama’s annual Red-White Spring Game Thursday at Tiger Stadium.

West Alabama threw a homecoming party for New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, whose game-saving interception in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX clinched the game for the Patriots and made the University of West Alabama a household name across the nation.

UWA presented Butler framed jerseys, proclamations from the Alabama State Legislature, the UWA Foundation Board and the West Alabama Alumni Association before capping off the pregame ceremony by unfurling of a banner from the roof of Homer Field House proclaiming Butler as UWA’s Super Bowl MVP.

When the game started, it was Tristan Reynolds, who signed with the Tigers in December out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, who turned the spotlight in his direction by kicking five field goals in a 26-3 Red Team victory.

Reynolds, a 5-9, 150-pound junior from Petal, Miss., kicked four field goals for the Red Team, and for good measure, scored the only points for the White Team on a 12-yarder to open the scoring. His boots for the winning team came from 53, 36, 23 and 28 yards.

“I thought our effort was good and we flew around out there,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “Tristan kicked the ball really well and I thought the Red defense made some good plays.”

The White team had 256 total yards, while the Red had 270 in a game where the clock was not stopped in the second half. Nineteen of 27 combined first downs for both teams were via the pass, but none of the four quarterbacks who played threw a touchdown pass.

Trent Thompson completed 17-of-29 passes for 150 yards and was intercepted twice. Harry Satterwhite took the remainder of the White Team snaps and was 5-for-8 for 32 yards. LaBaron Anthony completed 10-of-19 for 88 yards and Dezmon Huntley was 6-of-8 for 84 yards.

“All of the quarterbacks did some things well, but that’s the way it’s been all spring,” said Gilliland, who is charged with replacing the two-time Gulf South Conference offensive player of the year Kyle Caldwell at quarterback.

Anthony ran eight times for 58 yards to lead Red team rushing. Thompson picked up 44 yards on eight carries to lead the White.

Justin Mack caught eight passes for 64 yards to lead the Red, while Jamaar Cole had four grabs for 23 yards to lead the White.

Gilliland singled out Greg Thomas, Braden Byrd, Quinton Harton, Vodrick Lucious and Jherron Jones as the defensive stars of the game. Jones, Byrd and Harton each had four tackles to lead the Red Team. Thomas had an interception and Lucious recorded a tackle for loss.

The scrimmage ended spring drills for the Tigers, who open the 2015 season at home on Sept. 5 against Stillman College in the Annual Tiger Bowl.