LIVINGSTON, Ala. – The University of North Alabama secured at least a share of the 2014 Gulf South Conference Football Championship and strengthened its position for an NCAA Division II Playoff berth with a 24-16 win over West Alabama at Tiger Stadium.
The Lions, now 9-1 overall, closed their regular-season with a 6-1 league mark. Delta State is 5-1 in GSC play and could tie UNA for first place in the conference standings with a win over Mississippi College Saturday.
With the loss, West Alabama closes its season at 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the GSC.
The GSC football title is the 11th all-time for the Lions, the most of any school in league history.
The Lions will learn their post-season fate Sunday afternoon when the 2014 NCAA Division II Playoff pairings are announced.
UNA’s win over West Alabama was the 50th by the Lions over the Tigers in the 68 all-time meetings. UNA leads the series 50-17-1.
North Alabama finished with 326 total yards, rushing for 148 and passing for 178. The Lions ran the ball 39 times and only attempted 16 passes. Delvon Carpenter had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season with four catches for 105 yards.
West Alabama gained 453 total yards as Kyle Caldwell passed for 316 and ran for another 56.
North Alabama took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards in just five plays for a touchdown. A short pass from Luke Wingo to Delvon Carpenter went for a 62-yard gain and the touchdown came on a two-yard rush by Lamonte Thompson. Taylor Pontius added the PAT and the Lions led 7-0 at the 13:21 mark of the first quarter.
West Alabama answered immediately with a nine-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game. Kyle Caldwell passed to Chad Toocheck for the final nine yards and the touchdown with 8:43 remaining in the opening period. Mark Grant added the extra-point to make it 7-7.
The Lions regained the lead just before the end of the first quarter with a 79-yard TD drive. A 22-yard pass from Wingo to Carpenter moved the Lions into scoring position and Thompson got his second touchdown of the night on a 13-yard run. Pontius kicked the PAT and UNA led 14-7 with 22 seconds left in the quarter.
The teams traded punts for most of the remainder of the half before West Alabama got a scoring opportunity just before the half. The Tigers drove to the UNA 26-yard line before Steven Rich stepped in front of a Caldwell pass at the 20 to stop the threat with 53 seconds left.
UNA rushed for just 27 yards in the first half and was out-gained by the Tigers 194-176 over the first 30 minutes. Carpenter had three catches for 95 yards in the half for the Lions.
West Alabama took the opening kickoff of the second half and cut into the Lions’ lead with a 13-play, 57-yard scoring drive that took 5:46 off the clock. Mark Grant booted a 43-yard field goal to trim UNA’s lead to 14-10 with 9:08 left in the third quarter.
North Alabama put together a 72-yard scoring drive of its own on its first possession of the half to extend its lead back to 21-10. Thompson carried four times for 26 yards and Diamond Simmons raced the final 37 yards for the touchdown. Pontius added the PAT with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
North Alabama pushed its lead to 14 points early in the fourth quarter when Pontius booted a 27-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with 10:16 left in the game. It was his 10th successful field goal attempt in 13 tries this season.
West Alabama scored on the game’s final play as Caldwell hit Daryl Collins with a 34-yard touchdown pass as time expired to make the final count 24-16.
Courtesy: UNA Media Reltions