West Georgia’s return trip to Valdosta State was successful.
Seth Hinsley scored two touchdowns to lead the Wolves to the Division II semifinals with a 31-17 victory over the Blazers on Saturday.
Denarius Appling sealed with win with a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown with 1:35 left in the game as the Wolves avenged a 40-6 loss at Valdosta State on Oct. 11.
“This is a huge step for our program, winning an elite eight game for the first time in program history,” West Georgia coach Will Hall said. “Neither team deserved to lose this game as both teams gave it all. You could tell by the players at the end of the game. It was a championship atmosphere, and one we were fortunate to win.
The Wolves (12-2), the sixth seed in Super Region 2, held the Blazers (10-3) scoreless in the second half for their third consecutive win over a higher seeded team.
They will play Colorado State-Pueblo (12-1), the second seed in Super Region 4 next Saturday.
The loss snapped Valdosta State’s eight-game winning streak.
The Wolves built a 14-0 first-quarter lead on Hinsley’s 3-yard run and Dallas Dickey’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Walter Hibbler.
Valdosta State cut the deficit to 14-10 before Hinsley, who finished with 56 yards rushing, scored on a 12-yard run with 2:47 left in the first half.
Jake Medlock hit Chris Anderson with a 7-yard scoring pass with 1:17 to go in the first half as Valdosta State closed to within 21-17, but the Wolves scored the only 10 points after halftime, with the clinching score coming on Appling’s late punt return.
“We didn’t execute well in the red zone and made some critical mistakes at critical moments of the game,” Valdosta State coach David Dean said. “Whether it was drawing a penalty or mishandling handoffs, we just made too many mistakes. You can’t win at this time of the year when you make those mistakes.”