On Saturday night the University of North Alabama Lions took on the Presbyterian Blue Hose in their first Big South Conference game. The Lions entered the game looking to improve in areas they have struggled with up to this point in the season.
Through the first four games of the 2019 the Lions recorded a 1-3 record. The season started off with an opening home win against Western Illinois by a score of 26-17. Since then, both the offense and defense have struggled, with UNA giving up an average of 40.67 points per game while scoring an average of 17.67 points per game.
Prior to facing Presbyterian, the Lions lost two consecutive games against Montana and Alabama A&M in which they held halftime leads. These issues seemed to be an almost non-factor in the Presbyterian game as the Lions outscored the Blue Hose 21-9 at the half then played equally well in the second half to win the game 41-21.
“We’ve had some up and down,” head coach Chris Willis said. “We’ve had good halves or good quarters we haven’t played a lot of straight fourth quarter games. It’s good to get up in the forties because we are capable of scoring those kinds of points. Now we feel like we have a string of games that we can compete in its all Big South conference games. We got one more game before our bye week and we’d like to get this one.”
Point scoring was not the only turn around the Lions achieved on Saturday. Coming into the game the Lion’s offense was averaging 382 yards per game. UNA topped that average against the Blue Hose, finishing with 428 yards. Much of that increased performance was due to the play quarterback Christian Lopez and wide receiver Dexter Boykin.
“At times we looked good, but we still got to get better and put things together,” Lopez said.
Boykin however finished the game with two receptions for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
“Today when I woke up I just wanted to win,” Boykin said.
The leading tackler on the team D’Andre Hart and the player of the game K.J. Smith.
“It was a great performance,” Hart said. “We got the turnovers we needed. We got a touchdown. So, I feel we played a great game as a team.”
The turnovers were a huge part of the game and none were bigger than the K.J. Smith’s interception that he returned for a touchdown.
“Losing three straight is never a good feeling,” Smith said. “Now we are out of our little funk so I feel like we gonna start a winning streak because I feel like we got something to prove.”
The Lions go on the road next week to play Big South opponent Hampton. The Pirates enter the game 2-2 on the season.