UNA football wins first FCS home game

Damon Cox runs the ball towards the end zone. He helped lead UNA to victory with 99 rushing yards. 

North Alabama won their first home game as a Division I football team Sept. 22 against Azusa Pacific 37-35. A last second field goal from senior kicker Chandler Carrera with six seconds on the clock, put the Lions ahead while time expired.

A heavy thunderstorm delayed the kickoff for two and a half hours, soaking the field and creating a slick obstacle course for both teams. It caused multiple fumbles, incomplete passes and a few missed snaps. Head coach Chris Willis was not happy with his team’s performance.

“It wasn’t good,” Willis said. “I’m not proud of it by any means. Great, we won the game, but it was pathetic. 15-yard penalties. . . I don’t like anything I witnessed tonight. Moving forward, this isn’t going to get it done. I’ll make some changes if I have to.”

The Lions accumulated 10 penalties for 118-yards throughout the game. These included multiple calls of unsportsmanlike conduct, and even a targeting call resulting in removal from the game. Azusa Pacific had nine called for 95-yards.

UNA still pulled out a win with Azusa having 111 more offensive yards. The Lions had only 17 more rushing yards, while the Cougars had 128 more passing yards in total. North Alabama earned 121 rushing yards while Azusa ran 104 yards.

The entire game never presented a clear outcome, with both sides gaining the upper hand frequently. One minute into the first quarter APU scored their first touchdown off a single pass for 75-yards. The Lions retaliated with a field goal with three minutes left in the first quarter.

11 seconds into the second quarter, the lions scored another field goal making the score 6-6. With 4:39 left in the first half, the Lions kicked another field goal bringing the score to 9-6.

The second half began with another touchdown from APU less than one minute in the quarter. UNA followed one minute later taking the lead 16-13. APU responded five minutes later with another touchdown, only to be followed by a Lions field goal putting the score at 19-20 favoring the cougars.

In the fourth quarter, the Lions scored a touchdown five seconds in, followed by a two point conversion. Six minutes later they scored again changing the score to 34-20 with nine minutes left. The Cougars retaliated with two unanswered touchdowns, putting them ahead by one point with 1:16 left in the game. The new score was 34-35 Cougars.

With six seconds left in the game, Carrera kicked a field goal to put the Lions  ahead by two points, securing North Alabama their first Division I home game win.