UNA Coach Bobby Wallace: “We’ve Got a Lot to Work On”
Florence, Ala. - After escaping its 2012 season opener with a narrow 31-30 road win in Birmingham against Miles College, the University of North Alabama football team now turns its attention to former Gulf South Conference rival Harding University and its home opener at Braly Stadium.
UNA was impressive early in its opener, leading Miles 24-7 at the half. But the Bears outscored UNA 23-7 over the final 20 minutes and the Lions’ win was not secure until they stopped the Bears short on a two-point conversion attempt with 16 seconds left in the game.
North Alabama knows it will have to step up its game against a solid Harding team that will be making its second straight trip to Florence. UNA escaped with a 28-20 win over the Bisons in 2011 at Braly Stadium but the win wasn’t secured until Jason Smith scored on a 61-yard pass reception in the fourth quarter.
Entering this year’s game, UNA will have the advantage of having already played a game, while Harding will open its 2012 season in Florence. The Bisons will have had plenty of time to prepare for UNA, however.
“I think it helps that we’ve played a game and didn’t get anyone hurt that will miss the game this week,” UNA head coach Bobby Wallace said. “As young and inexperienced as we are, its an advantage to play. But at the same time we now have a short week to prepare for Harding, while they have had their whole camp to prepare for us.”
Wallace said the key for the Lions is to quickly put the win behind them.
“We have to concentrate on correcting our mistakes and get ready to face a completely different offense in Harding,” he said.
Harding started strong in 2011 under coach Ronnie Huckeba but finished just 4-7. The Bisons return 12 starters from that squad.
This will be Bobby Wallace’s first game as UNA’s head coach at Braly Stadium since November 15, 1997, when he led the Lions to a 56-14 win over West Alabama. Wallace was also back at Braly Stadium in September of 2011 when he was inducted into UNA’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for UNA fans, the last time Wallace coached at Braly Stadium was on the opposing sideline as head coach of West Alabama on November 7, 2009 when his Tigers upset unbeaten and No. 1 ranked UNA 31-28 in four overtimes.
Wallace said it will be special coaching UNA again at Braly.
“It’ll be great to run out and go to the home sideline again but once the game starts it will be all about the football game,” Wallace said.
UNA leads the all-time series with Harding 7-5 and has won seven of the last nine meetings.
UNA hasn’t lost a regular-season game to a non-GSC school since a 24-21 overtime loss at Samford on Aug. 29, 2002. That gives the Lions a 20-game regular season winning streak against non-GSC schools. UNA is 97-28-1 all-time in non-conference games since joining the Gulf South Conference in 1971. The Lions are 58-14 at home against non-GSC schools over that time period and 37-13 on the road and 3-1-1 on neutral fields.
The Lions have not lost a regular season home game to a non-GSC school since 1999 against Pittsburg State.
A GSC member from 2000-10, Harding is now a part of the Great American Conference (GAC). The GSC schools dominated the GAC in 2011, going 14-2 in the 16 games between the leagues.
Courtesy UNA Media Relations