Kingsville, Texas – Caleb Massey set a school record with a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown and the University of North Alabama held off a late rally by Texas A&M-Kingsville for a 21-16 victory Saturday evening at Javelina Stadium.
With the Lions clinging to a 14-13 lead late in the third quarter, TAMKU drove to the UNA eight-yard line. On a third-and-two, Massey stepped in front of Nate Poppell’s pass attempt and returned the interception down the near sideline for the score. Michael Schuster’s PAT gave UNA a 21-13 lead with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Javelinas added a 29-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs on their final possession to ensure the UNA win.
The fourth straight victory gives UNA a 5-1 record on the season. Texas A&M-Kingsville loses for the fourth straight week after opening the season 2-0. The win also keeps the Lions perfect in the all-time series with a 5-0 record against the Javelinas.
North Alabama’s offense put together a pair of long touchdown drives in the first half. After receiving the game’s opening kickoff, UNA marched 82 yards in 13 plays. A two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Chris Alexander capped the drive, while Schuster’s PAT gave the Lions a 7-0 lead with 5:14 remaining in the first quarter.
After the two teams traded punts, TAMKU got on the board with a 30-yard field goal by Matt Stoll in the final minute of the opening quarter. UNA responded on its ensuing possession with a 12-play, 87-yard drive. Freshman Lamonte Thompson scored from four yards out to give the Lions a 14-3 lead at the 11:29 mark of the second quarter.
The Javelinas added a 25-yard field goal by Stoll to make the score 14-6 at the half.
In the second half, the TAMKU offense came alive, out-gaining UNA 145-4 in the third quarter alone. The Javelinas’ opening possession of the half resulted in a seven-play, 69-yard march that led to the team’s first touchdown. A 17-yard touchdown run by Anthony Johnson made the score 14-13 following the PAT, and the home team was in position to take its first lead after the Lions lost a fumble on their next possession.
Massey’s interception return, however, pushed the lead back to eight and the Javelinas would not find the endzone again. The return broke a 53-year old record set when Lyle Underwood returned an interception 90 yards in a 1959 game against Middle Tennessee State.
UNA was able to get the win despite being out-gained 393-244 in total offense. Alexander and freshman quarterback Luke Wingo combined to complete just seven pass attempts for 99 yards. Thompson finished with 63 yards rushing for the Lions.
North Alabama will return to Gulf South Conference action on Saturday, Oct. 13, against Valdosta State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium.
Courtesy UNA Media Services