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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Taylor Pontius kicked a school-record 54-yard field goal as time expired to lift fifth ranked North Alabama to a 31-29 win over 21stranked Valdosta State at Braly Stadium.
UNA had taken a 28-22 lead with 5:28 left in the game but Pontius extra-point attempt hit the left upright, leaving UNA’s lead at six points. Valdosta State then quickly drove 60 yards in seven plays to take the lead at 29-28 with just 2:02 left in the game.
The Lions drove to the VSU 37 before Pontius came on to hit the game-winner.
The win was UNA’s seventh in the last nine games with the Blazers but it was the Lions’ first at home over VSU since 2008. The visiting team had won the last six meetings in the series.
The win was also the 100th win for Bobby Wallace at North Alabama. In 13 seasons with the Lions, Wallace now has a 100-44-1 record.
North Alabama is now 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Gulf South Conference. Valdosta State is 2-2 overall and 0-2 in the GSC.
UNA’s Lamonte Thompson rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns. Quarterback Luke Wingo was 15-of-27 passing for 217 yards. The Lions finished with 397 total yards to 434 for VSU.
After Valdosta State lost seven yards on its first two plays from scrimmage, UNA’s Chavez Sims recovered a VSU fumble at the Blazers one-yard line to set up the game’s first score.
North Alabama quarterback Luke Wingo dove into the end zone from one yard out for the touchdown and Kevin Henke’s PAT made it 7-0 at 13:28 of the first quarter.
Two possessions later UNA mounted a nine-play, 82-yard drive to extend its lead to 14-0. Lamonte scored the touchdown on a one-yard run and Taylor Pontius added the extra-point to make it 14-0 with 6:18 left in the first quarter.
UNA stopped VSU’s first scoring threat early in the second quarter when Steven Rich picked off a Jake Medlock pass in the end zone with 9:22 left in the half. Rich brought the ball out of the end zone, however, and was stopped at the UNA 1. On the next play Wingo was sacked in the end zone for a safety and VSU was on the board, cutting the lead to 14-2.
Although Pontius got a touchback on the ensuing kick, VSU would drive 75 yards in 10 plays for its first touchdown. The Blazers’ Cedric O’Neal scored on a three-yard run. Anthony Pistelli added the PAT to make it 14-9 at 5:29 of the second period.
UNA failed to convert on two other scoring opportunities in the half as Pontius missed a 38-yard field goal attempt and the Lions fumbled a snap that VSU recoverd at its own 21 with just 1:17 left in the half.
After forcing the Lions to punt on their opening possession of the second half, VSU drove 55 yards in six plays for a go-ahead touchdown. Cedric O’Neal scored on an 11-yard run after breaking several tackles and Pistelli’s PAT made it 16-14 with 10:43 left in the third quarter.
Pistelli added a 29-yard field goal to extend VSU’s lead to 19-14 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
UNA’s Jacob Tucker scored on a two-yard run at 13:45 of the fourth quarter to cap a seven-play, 85-yard drive to put UNA back on top and WIngo passed to Hagan Scott for the two-point conversion to extend UNA’s lead to 22-19.
Pistelli’s 21-yard field goal with 9:48 left in the game tied it at 22-22 but UNA answered with an 11-play, 89-yard drive to regain the lead. Thompson scored on a five-yard run but Pontius missed the PAT, leaving UNA ahead 28-22.
North Alabama host Western Oregon on Oct. 4 for Homecoming at Braly Stadium.
Courtesy: UNA media relations