Rain falls as UNA drops close one to Central Washington

ELLENSBURG, Wash. (UNA Media Relations) — In a game played in a driving rain, ninth ranked Central Washington rallied for a 17-10 win over North Alabama at Tomlinson Stadium.

North Alabama held a 10-7 halftime lead on the strength of a field goal and an interception return for a touchdown. But despite the UNA defense giving the Lions four turnovers and special team contributing a blocked punt, the injury-depleted North Alabama offense could only muster three points and 178 total yards. In addition, UNA was penalized 13 times for 131 yards. With the loss, UNA falls to 3-4, while Central Washington improves to 8-0.

With UNA holding a 10-7 lead, Central Washington drove deep into North Alabama territory but Maurice Burton recovered a Wildcat fumble to stop the threat.

The Wildcats responded with a scoring drive on their next possession as Gavin Todd booted a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 with 3:10 remaining in the period.

Central Washington regained the lead with 10:42 left in the game as Austin Pernell scored on a four-yard run to cap a seven-play, 61-yard drive. Todd’s PAT put the Wildcats on top 17-10.

UNA had one final threat as the Lions picked up three first downs in the closing two minutes and moved to the CWU 21-yard line where a fourth-and-11 pass fell incomplete to end the comeback threat.

Pernell rushed for a career high 189 yards on 35 carries as the Wildcats finished with 363 total yards.

UNA’s Rico Bruton was just 12-of-32 passing for 122 yards.

North Alabama had the first scoring opportunity of the day but a 38-yard Chandler Carrera field goal attempt was partially blocked and missed wide left at 3:07 of the first quarter.

Central Washington answered with a nine-play, 79-yard scoring drive to take the lead. Austin Pernell scored on a one-yard run and Gavin Todd’s PAT made it 7-0 with 14:40 left in the second quarter.

UNA’s Jamal Jackson blocked a CWU punt, giving the Lions the ball at the WIldcats 30-yard line with 11:26 left in the quarter but North Alabama’s offense could not move the ball and was forced to punt.

The Lions got another CWU turnover on a fumble recovery by Jalen Dread but UNA’s drive again stalled at the five. Carrera came on to boot a 30-yard field goal, cutting the Central Washington lead to 7-3 at 4:03 of the second quarter.

Moments later Dwain Smith picked off a Hennessey pass and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 UNA lead with 1:59 left in the half.

North Alabama returns home to host Delta State on October 28 at 6 p.m.