LIVINGSTON, Ala – The University of North Alabama’s 2012 football season came to a disappointing end with a 42-27 loss to West Alabama at Tiger Stadium.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Lions after opening the season with a 5-1 start. It marks the first time since 2004 that the Lions have lost four straight game. UNA finishes its 2012 season 5-5 overall and 2-3 in Gulf South Conference play. West Alabama improved to 8-3 with the win and won the GSC title with a 5-0 league mark.
The 42 points scored by the Tigers were the most scored by a UWA team in the 66 series meetings with North Alabama.
UNA took the early lead and then tied the game at 14-14 late in the first half. West Alabama quickly swung the game in its favor, however, with two quick TDs and a blocked field goal in the final 90 seconds of the half.
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North Alabama scored on its opening possession of the game, driving 74 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Lamonte Thompson carried six times for 33 yards on the drive and Luke Wingo was five-for-five passing for 33 yards. Wingo had a seven-yard run to move the ball to the West Alabama one but was shaken up on the play. Back-up quarterback Chris Alexander then came on and scored on a one-yard run. Taylor Pontius added the PAT and UNA led 7-0 at the 4:41 mark of the first quarter. The Lions’ drive consumed 7:02.
West Alabama quickly answered, driving 75 yards in seven plays for a tying score. UWA quarterback Gary Johnston accounted for all 75 yards, rushing for 20 and completing three passes for the other 55. The touchdown came on a 14-yard pass to Chad Toocheck with 1:42 left in the first quarter. Ryne Smith’s PAT made it 7-7.
The Tigers took the lead on their next possession, marching 70 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown. Johnston again provided the majority of the offense himself and scored on a two-yard run with 9:07 left in the first half. Smith added the PAT to make it 14-7 after the 6:01 drive.
UNA tied the game late in the half when Caleb Massey picked off a Johnson pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown. It was his second interception return for a touchdown this season. Pontius extra-point tied the game at 14-14 with just 1:32 left in the second quarter.
Things quickly unraveled for the Lions, however, as Malcolm Butler returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Smith’s PAT gave the Tigers a 21-14 lead with 1:17 left in the half. The Lions then fumbled the ball back to the Tigers two plays later, giving West Alabama the ball at the UNA 39. On first down Johnston hit Seth Roberts with a 38-yard pass, and he scored two plays later on a one-yard run. Smith’s PAT made it 28-14 with 20 seconds left in the half.
UNA had another chance to score before intermission when Alexander hit Lee Mayhall with a 42-yard pass to the Tigers’ 20-yard line. Taylor Pontius 37-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half was blocked and UWA continued to lead by 14 at the half.
West Alabama scored on its first possession of the second half to extend its lead. Johnston hit Toocheck with a six-yard scoring pass and Smith’s PAT made it 35-14 at the 8:09 mark of the third quarter.
North Alabama responded with a solid 10-play, 74-yard drive to chip away at the Tigers’ lead. Alexander hit Melvin Harris with a 22-yard touchdown pass at the 3:09 mark of the third period and Pontius PAT made it 35-21.
The Tigers were back in the end zone seven plays later, marching 90 yards for a score. Johnston hit Roberts with a 50-yard TD pass and Smith’s extra point extended the UWA lead to 42-21.
After a long drive deep into UWA territory stalled, UNA settled for a 37-yard field goal by Pontius to make it 42-24 with 9:06 left in the game.
The Lions final score came in the form of a 26-yard field goal by Pontius with 3:16 left in the game.
Courtesy: UNA media Relations