The Lions football team emerged victorious with a 34-17 win at its homecoming game against the Mississippi College Choctaws.
“We came into this game a little more focused,” said senior running back Damon Cox. “We knew we had to get going early because they’re running the triple option. We knew we weren’t going to have many possessions, so we had to capitalize.”
North Alabama scored in the first three minutes on a pass from junior quarterback Christian Lopez to redshirt freshman wide receiver Cortez Hall on a slant route. The extra point from senior kicker Chandler Carrera put the Lions ahead 7-0 with 12:05 remaining in the first quarter.
UNA scored again after a 95-yard drive started by a 56-yard sprint from senior running back Damon Cox, capped by a short run from Lopez with three minutes left in the first quarter. Mississippi College retaliated with a one-play, 70-yard drive from sophomore quarterback Aaron Feazelle’s pass to junior wide receiver Colt Rotenberry making the score 14-7 with 2:40 left in the quarter.
“I really feel like the team’s energy has changed over the past weeks,” said senior defensive lineman Maurice Burton Jr. “This week, we had practice differently and I believe it helped. Coach (Chris) Willis really wants the best for us.”
North Alabama delivered again with a touchdown pass from Lopez to redshirt freshman wide receiver Dexter Boykin. The extra point made the score 21-7 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Lions junior running back Terence Humphrey scored a touchdown on a handoff from Lopez with an extra point from Carrera to lift the score to 28-7 with 5:50 left in the half. The Choctaws answered with a touchdown from senior running back Tiberias Lampkin that cut UNA to a two touchdown lead with 1:20 in the half.
A career-long 46-yard field goal from Carrera ended the half making the score 31-14.
With 3:50 left in the third quarter, Choctaws junior kicker Drake McCarter drove in a field goal making the game 31-17. Carrera added another career-long field goal with a 47-yard field goal bringing the score to 34-17 with 1:44 remaining in the game, confirming the victory.
“We have been moving the ball all year,” said head coach Chris Willis. “We just haven’t finished off the points. We didn’t let penalties get in the way tonight and we finished off strong. First half was really good and the second half was all right. We stalled out some in the second half.”
North Alabama plays away at Jackson State Oct. 20 at 2 p.m.