LIVINGSTON— New season, new quarterback, new expectations. Not a problem.

No. 24-ranked West Alabama began their 2019 campaign with a 35-18 win over Limestone College at Tiger Stadium. The win marks five-out-of-six season-opening wins for West Alabama head coach Brett Gilliland.

“We do a lot of work in the classroom trying to get to know get other on a deeper level,” Gilliland said. “We try to rebuild the culture of the program every year and create that bond, which is what this team did so well this summer.”

Delaware State transfer quarterback Jack McDaniels made his first start for UWA and wasted little time making an impact. Junior wide receiver Bayley Blanchard picked up right where he left off from a career year last season, hauling in a 10-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.

After a Limestone field goal, Blanchard and McDaniels connected again on a 52-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 14-3 lead after the first quarter. McDaniels was 7-for-8 passing with 151 yards in the quarter.

“It was a great atmosphere here tonight,” McDaniels said. “I have a lot of favorite targets with this team.”

A 19-yard touchdown pass from D.J. Phillips to Quay Brown for Limestone cut the lead down to one possession early in the second quarter. Then the Derrick Underwood show began. Underwood slipped in from 2 yards out just before halftime and from 17 yards out early in the third quarter to extend the Tigers lead to 28-9.

Any glimpse of a Saints comeback throughout the game were dashed right away as UWA responded with touchdowns on their ensuing possession after three of Limestone’s four scores.

McDaniels added a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tyriq Martin for a late fourth-quarter score. McDaniels finished the game with 279 yards on 21-for-37 passing and two scores.

Malik Brooks posted a late 46-yard scamper to the end zone for Limestone to bring the final tally to 35-18.

Although winning by a comfortable margin, the West Alabama defense was not dominating by any means, giving up 430 total yards; 324 of those through the air.

UWA senior punter Zach Gaines kicked a beauty of a game, however, launching 10 punts for an average of 47.6 yards. Four punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. The Tigers kick coverage teams forced Limestone to an average starting field position at their own 21-yard line and only five of the Saints 16 drives began past their 25-yard line.

“Being here for four years I have so much trust in everyone around me,” Gaines said. “Trying to muscle the ball through this summer and keying in on my technique was the biggest thing.”

Limestone (0-1) drops their 13th straight game and hosts No. 15 West Georgia next Saturday. West Alabama (1-0) will travel to Tusculum next Saturday as well. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.