UWA uses second half energy to overcome Cumberland

UWA's Michael Williams puts a hit on Cumberland's Brandon Byrd (1) as Taderion Myhand (3) closes in.

UWA’s Michael Williams (90) puts a hit on Cumberland’s Brandon Byrd (1) as Taderion Myhand (3) closes in.

Despite a slow start, the University of West Alabama Tigers were able to find their rhythm in the second half en route to a 34-8 win over Cumberland University on Thursday. With the win, UWA improved to 2-0 on the season.

UWA's Tyler Rodgers crosses the goal line in the third quarter against Cumberland.

UWA’s Tyler Rodgers (28) crosses the goal line in the third quarter against Cumberland.

UWA’s first and only points of the first half came with 9:48 remaining in the first quarter as Trent Thompson was able to connect with Randy Satterfield on a 19-yard pass.

Cumberland’s only points of the night would come from a blocked UWA punt that resulted in a touchback and safety, then a five-yard pass from Justin Snyder to Trevon Jones.

UWA went into the locker room trailing 8-7.

“The defense kept us alive and I thank goodness they did. I can’t say enough about that front seven,” said UWA head coach Brett Gilliland. “We didn’t show up to play offensively in the first half and it certainly showed.”

UWA found the end zone four times in the second half, twice on the ground and twice through the air.

342 of UWA’s 401 total yards came in the second half while the Tiger defense held the Bulldogs to a mere 173 total yards on the night.

The Tigers turned play-calling duties over to redshirt freshman Dezmon Huntley in the second half to relieve Thompson.

“Dez was a great spark for us, but it wasn’t like Trent wasn’t playing well. He is banged up and it was limiting some of the things he could do,” Gilliland said of the decision. “We just decided to play in the second half. Dezmon is a special player but this wasn’t a one man show.”

UWA's Dezmon Huntley runs in the open field against Cumberland.

UWA’s Dezmon Huntley (5) runs in the open field against Cumberland.

Offensively, Huntley led the Tigers on the ground with 10 rushes for 88 yards. Thompson led the passing game completing 12 of 22 with one interception. Tyreek Hill, a recent transfer from Oklahoma State University had five receptions for 96 yards, the longest of which was a 68-yard touchdown pass. Adding in 28 yards rushing and 76 yards on returns, Hill finished the night with 200 all-purpose yards. Ty Morgan, a former Sweet Water Bulldog, had two receptions for 10 yards.

Defensively, Quentin Harton led the Tigers in tackles with four solo tackles, six assists, and one tackle for a loss.

UWA returns to action on Sept. 19 at Miles College in Birmingham. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.