Football team runs into injuries

Junior quarterback Rico Bruton runs the ball past a defender in the Lions 37-23 loss to West Georgia Sept. 30. The Lions started the season 1-3 after two straight losses in Gulf South Conference games.

by Sports Editor Jacob Cole

Editor’s Note: This article contains quotes from The Times Daily.

The Lions football team has experienced the injury bug in recent weeks, but they are hoping to get back on track.

After another loss, this time to a Gulf South Conference opponent West Georgia, UNA will play Florida Tech for homecoming this week. The Lions also received more injury news after the loss. The team lost two players to injury last week putting the total to nine injured players.

Lions’ head coach Chris Willis said the injuries are unfortunate, but the team has to keep playing hard for the season.

“It’s just difficult to have so many injuries at this level,” Willis said. “It is frustrating, but they are not going to cancel the season. We are going to have to roll on, and we still have good enough players to have a chance to win every game. It’s part of football and we’ll just have to fight through it, but I just hate it for those guys who are out.”

Junior offensive tackle Khadedryck Todd went out early in the game and left  with a sprained MCL. Todd remained out for the entire game and redshirt freshman Noah Stern came in at right tackle for the remainder of the game.

Junior outside linebacker Joshua Amanfo left the game with a dislocated shoulder injury. He did not return to the game, either.

The Lions were already without multiple players from injuries in the past weeks. Junior defensive tackle Chris Herise suffered a knee injury in practice leading up to the West Georgia game. An MRI showed he will be out the rest of the season.

UNA has many other players hurt including freshman running back C.J. Sturdivant who is out with a torn ACL he suffered against Valdosta State.  Redshirt sophomore Blake Hawkins is out for the year with a back injury. Senior Jaylan Daniels is out for a month with a broken fibula, and redshirt junior Waid Miller is out until further notice with a stress fracture in his foot.

Two other players are questionable for the upcoming homecoming game for UNA. Sophomore A.J. Bracey suffered a concussion two weeks ago, and junior Johnnie Anderson has a shoulder strain. Both players are expected to return for the game against Florida Tech.

The Lions moved redshirt sophomore Ja’mal Jackson from wide receiver to cornerback to add depth after injuries.

The UNA offense ran the ball effectively in the loss. Senior running back Nick Taylor ran for 108 yards on 22 carries to lead the offense.

“It’s always nice to get some carries,” Taylor said. “I just tried to stay patient, and our line did a great job blocking. It’s always good when a running back can get out in space and make something happen, so it was a good day for me.”

This was the first 100-yard rushing performance since Lamonte Thompson in the 2015 season.

The Lions will try to bounce back when they play Florida Tech for homecoming this week.