Memorable game for former Granger
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
CARROLLTON – It was his chance to shine.
Heading into Saturday’s conference showdown with Delta State, the West Georgia Wolves were hampered by injuries to some of their top wide receivers.
That meant that a red-shirt freshman who through the first nine games had been used sparingly at receiver was going to be asked to start and be a key part of the offensive attack.
That player was former LaGrange Granger LaPerion Perry, and he was up to the challenge.
Perry had a remarkable game, catching six passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, to lead West Georgia to a 29-17 home win over Delta State.
West Georgia improved to 10-0, and it will be at Valdosta State on Saturday for a showdown for Gulf South Conference supremacy.
If West Georgia wins, it will not only capture the conference title, but it will earn a first-round bye in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Through the first nine games this season, Perry had five catches for less than 100 yards.
As the Delta State game approached, Perry knew a lot more was going to be asked of him.
“This week coach (David Dean) had told me that I’d have to step up because we had a pile of people injured,” Perry said. “I stepped up and did the job, and hopefully we’ll have them back next week, we’ll have everybody so we’ll be ready to roll.”
While Perry hadn’t gotten many touches at receiver, he had made a major impact in the return game.
In back-to-back games earlier in the season, Perry had kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Against Delta State, Perry returned two punts for 62 yards, and he had a pair of kickoff returns for 55 yards, giving him 300 all-purpose yards in the game.
“He’s a dynamic guy, and that’s why we’ve got him back on kick returns, that’s why we try to find ways to put the ball in his hands, because he can just make things happen,” said David Dean, the Wolves’ head coach.
In the first half, Perry had a 63-yard scoring catch, and his 89-yard touchdown reception gave West Georgia the lead for good.
“It felt good,” Perry said of being able to make an impact at receiver. “I always wanted to just win. I wanted to focus on just winning, because I know going 10-0, I never did that. So I knew that would feel great. I want to win a ring, because that’s all I’m hoping for.”
On both touchdowns, Perry beat his defender to get wide open, and quarterback Willie Candler dropped the ball right in his hands.
“He made two awesome moves,” Dean said. “I saw him come off the ball, and that’s the reason he was so wide open is because of the moves that he made. Again, what a great player. A great player, and a great job of stepping up and making plays today.”
Perry, who is also a member of the West Georgia basketball team, played in four games last year before suffering a season-ending injury.
Because he only played in four games, Perry was able to take a red-shirt year, so he has four seasons of eligibly remaining, much to the delight of his head coach.
“The great thing about LP, he’s a freshman,” Dean said. “We’re looking for three more years, plus what we’ve got the rest of the season. I can’t say enough about him. His work ethic is second to none. He loves to play the game.
“He’s always got a smile on his face, and that’s the reason that he is able to play the way he plays, because he takes that passion out to practice, and it carries over to the games.”