Matthew Willis rushed 25 times for 120 yards and a touchdown to lead the West Alabama Tigers to a 17-12 win over the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys in non-conference football at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday night.
Arkansas Tech (1-3) scored the first points of the night on a 28-yard field goal by Jorge Vazquez with 8:29 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers (3-1) broke on top in the second quarter with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Caldwell to Gerald Worsham and a 30-yard touchdown run by Willis. UWA led 14-3 with 1:43 left in the first half.
Vazquez made his second field goal of the opening half --- a 22-yard kick with 3 seconds to go --- and cut the Tigers' edge to 14-6 at halftime.
Casey Henderson drew the Wonder Boys even nearer to the lead with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 11:19 mark of the fourth quarter, but the 2-point conversion pass was intercepted by West Alabama. The Tigers preserved a 14-12 lead.
A 12-play scoring drive that consumed more than five minutes resulted in a 30-yard field goal by UWA's Ryne Smith to increase the margin to 17-12 with 2:36 remaining.
The Wonder Boys moved into Tiger territory on their last-chance drive, but an Otha Foster interception with 1:17 left sealed the West Alabama victory.
Arkansas Tech out-gained the Tigers 352-302 in total offense yardage, but the Wonder Boys were minus-2 in turnover margin. West Alabama defenders recorded three interceptions, two of which were made by Deon Lacey.
Caldwell, a freshman who started the season as UWA's third-string quarterback and came off the bench on Saturday, completed 6-of-9 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers. Worsham made seven catches for 98 yards. James Alexander led the West Alabama defense with nine tackles.
Preston Conder completed 16-of-27 passes for 190 yards and Henderson had 12 rushes for 64 yards for Arkansas Tech. Joe Means made nine tackles for the Wonder Boys, while Myron Johnson recorded seven tackles, an interception and three pass break-ups.
The Wonder Boys will visit nationally-ranked Central Missouri for a 1:30 p.m. non-conference game in Warrensburg, Mo., next Saturday.
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