West Alabama Claws the Maroon Tigers in First Football Game of the Season

Photo by Juwan Lee

What the Maroon Tigers failed to execute, West Alabama excelled at as they relied on a fluent run game coupled with accurate throws from Tucker Melton.


By Will Clay and Kobe Scales


A tough loss on Saturday night on the new turf field with packed stands, still left hope for a bright season. College football is back across the nation. B.T. Harvey Stadium was one of the sites of expectant fans as Morehouse College opened the season against the University of West Alabama. 


“I think we have some of the best fans in the nation,” said head coach Rich Freeman. 


Despite big plays from the defense, the effort was not enough. The game ended with a disappointing but encouraging 24-16 loss to the West Alabama Tigers.   


With four seconds left, Morehouse wide receiver Delancey Tolliver thrilled the crowd when he appeared to catch a pass in the end zone that could have resulted in overtime. Then the crowd was stunned when an official signaled that Tolliver caught the pass out of bounds.  


Tolliver was stunned, too.  


“I had one foot in for sure,” he said. 


Defensive lineman Elijah Campbell said, “I just think it’s a part of the game, it’s those 50-50 balls. I feel like we have all the aspects, all the pieces and physicality. Just need to clear up the miscues.”  


In his Morehouse debut, quarterback Derrach West completed 17 of 29 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He also led Morehouse with 84 rushing yards.   


What the Maroon Tigers failed to execute, West Alabama excelled at as they relied on a fluent run game coupled with accurate throws from Tucker Melton. Scores from running backs Demetrius Battle and Ta’Bryious Webb gave the West Alabama Tigers enough of a cushion. 


Tolliver reeled in a 28-yard touchdown pass to make it a one score game late in the fourth quarter. 


The Maroon Tigers are keeping the young season in perspective and remain optimistic. 


“We just have to finish, though,” center Antonio Smith said. 


The defense had a tale of two halves.  Senior defensive back Darien Pittman intercepted a pass on West Alabama’s first drive. After that, the Maroon Tigers couldn’t stop the Tigers while giving up 21 points in the first half.  


Early in the second quarter, trailing 14-3, Morehouse forced a fumble in West Alabama territory before giving the ball right back on an interception.  

The half ended 21-3, but the Maroon Tigers allowed only three more points.  


“We stayed the course, defensive backs pressed instead of sitting back, as a team we were more aggressive, and we mixed up coverages,” defensive coordinator George Copeland said.  


The defense gave Morehouse life once again. Linebacker Dantez Simpson forced a fumble with just under six minutes left which led to a Morehouse touchdown pass. With 52 seconds remaining, West Alabama turned the ball over on downs, which almost led to last-minute heroics for Morehouse. 


Sophomore linebacker Daylon Land led the Tigers defense with 13 total tackles; 11 solo, two assists and one sack for a loss of eight yards. Next week, Morehouse hosts University of West Georgia.