Birmingham, Ala. - Delvin Ervin stopped Jordan Lewis short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt with 16 seconds left in the game to preserve a season opening 31-30 win for the University of North Alabama over Miles College at Legion Field.
UNA appeared to have the game won when Chris Alexander hit Brian Sutherland with a 40-yard scoring pass with just 1:05 left in the game to give the Lions a 31-24 lead. But the Bears drove the length of the field and scored with just 16 seconds left on a 19-yard TD pass from David Thomas to Lonnie Outlaw. The Bears then chose to go for two points and the win but were stopped short.
The win was the 10th consecutive season-opening win for the Lions and the first victory in the second term under new head coach Bobby Wallace. Miles, coached by former UNA All-American Reginald Ruffin, falls to 0-1.
A crowd of 22,268 was in attendance, marking the second largest crowd ever for a UNA football game.
UNA led 24-3 at the half but Miles put up 27 second half points to just one score for the Lions.
The win was UNA’s 20th consecutive regular season win over a non-Gulf South Conference school. It also improved UNA’s all-time record against Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools to 36-5-1.
After stopping Miles without a first down on the game’s initial possession, North Alabama drove for a touchdown on its first drive of the year. Chris Alexander engineered the eight-play, 59-yard march that ended with a one-yard TD dive by Lamonte Thompson. Michael Schuster added the extra-point to make it 7-0 with 9:14 left in the first quarter. Thompson carried four times for 28 yards on the drive.
UNA forced a turnover on Miles’ second possession of the game when Caleb Massey stripped Jordan Lewis of the ball at the Bears’ 48 and Jeremiah Booth recovered. The Lions scored eight plays later when freshman quarterback Luke Wingo pushed his way in from the one with 3:54 left in the first quarter. The key play in the drive was a 32-yard pass from Wingo to Daniel Almon. Schuster’s PAT made it 14-0.
Miles had a scoring opportunity early in the second quarter but Patton Chambers 40-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar and bounced back at the 10:29 mark. UNA answered with a time consuming 13-play, 77-yard touchdown drive to extend its lead. Alexander scored the TD on a three-yard run and Schuster added the PAT at the 3:27 mark of the half to make it 21-0. Lamar Smith carried six times for 37 yards on the drive and Alexander completed two passes to Almon for 27 yards.
Miles answered quickly with its first score on the game, going 75 yards in just four plays. A 50-yard pass moved the Bears into UNA territory and David Thomas passed 22 yards to DeLarius Webb for the TD. Chambers PAT made it 21-7 with 1:39 left in the half.
North Alabama added a 45-yard Schuster field goal with 57 seconds in the half to make it 24-7 at intermission. The Lions rushed for 181 yards in the first half and had 240 yards of total offense to 163 for Miles.
UNA opened the second half with an 11-play drive but it ended without and points as Schuster was short on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Miles cut into the UNA lead when John Nixon scored on a three-yard run at the 5:06 mark of the third quarter. Chambers PAT made it 24-14, capping a 78-yard drive.
The Bears cut the UNA lead to three points on their next possession, driving 92 yards for a touchdown. Thomas passed 34 yards to D.J. Fife for the score with 12:58 left in the game. Chambers PAT made it 24-21.
Miles tied the game with a 29-yard Chambers field goal with 3:09 left in the game but the Lions quickly answered with a six-play, 71-yard scoring drive. Alexander’s TD pass and Schuster’s PAT gave UNA a 31-24 advantage with just 1:05 left in the game.
The Bears covered 73 yards in six plays to make it 31-30.
UNA rushed for 266 yards, led by Thompson with 102 yards on 21 carries. Miles was held to just 115 yards rushing but passed for 379.
UNA hosts Harding at Braly Municipal Stadium on Sept. 8.
Courtesy UNA Media Relations