The Wolves (2-1) saw their final chance drop incomplete on a fourth-and-three attempt from the Miles 13-yard line with 44 seconds remaining, allowing the Golden Bears (2-1) to run out the clock.
Miles, which led from nearly start to finish, delivered the first big blow of the night literally in the opening seconds, using a trick play on a wide receiver reverse pass for a 75-yard touchdown connection from Antonio Pitts to D.J. Fife for the 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.
West Georgia pulled back within one on a pair of Davis Brackett field goals — both from 41 yards out — to make it a 7-6 contest with 4:01 left in the opening quarter.
But after a sluggish start, Miles quarterback David Thomas shook off the cobwebs and put together a solid drive, marching down the field to set up a score on a rush from Johnson-Parker to make it a 14-6 affair. The Wolves countered with another Brackett field goal, but the Bears hit on another big play courtesy of a 94-yard kickoff return by Fife to stretch Miles’ lead to 20-9 with 7:45 left in the opening half.
Both teams would find the end zone one more time before the half, with the Wolves scoring on a four-yard touchdown run by freshman quarterback Dallas Dickey, while the Bears used a Floyd Graves one-yard run with 20 ticks left in the half to take the 27-16 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, it was more of the same.
Following a frustrating first half, the Wolves stormed back, using a powerful rushing attack and opportunistic defense to take the lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the game. Until that point, Dickey had a rushing touchdown, as did Quan Jones, and then Darien Lane intercepted Thomas, returning the pick for a touchdown.
It seemed that the momentum was now all on the side of West Georgia.
But another special teams breakdown resulted in a blocked extra point that was returned for a two-point conversion, leaving UWG clinging to just a 37-36 edge with 9:41 to go in the game.
Thomas then drove the Bears back down for what would become the game-winning score.
The Wolves had one last chance, but junior quarterback Austin Trainor — who was 24-of-36 for 216 yards — came up just short on a pass to Bobby Burum on the fourth-down play that ended the game.
Burum was stellar in the absence of two starting receivers, hauling in a career-high eight receptions for 107 yards.
Both teams had 421 yards of total offense in the game, with West Georgia picking up 249 yards through the air and 172 yards on the ground. Seth Hinsley had 18 carries for 87 yards to lead the UWG rushing attack.
The Wolves now have an open week to try to get healthy before the Oct. 29 Gulf South Conference opener at No. 24 West Alabama.