Lions fall in football season opener

UNA dropped its season opener to No. 5 ranked Texas A&M-Commerce in a battle of defense Sept. 1 in Braly Stadium.

UNA led for the majority of the game with a score of 7-0 until Texas A&M-Commerce capitalized in UNA territory with a field goal in the third quarter to bring the game to 7-3.

A Texas A&M-Commerce safety with 4:18 left on the clock put UNA up by one point with the opposing team receiving the ball with over four minutes left on the clock.

The UNA defense held Texas A&M-Commerce at the UNA 13, but a field goal kick put Texas A&M-Commerce up 7-8 with a little over a minute left on the clock.

Despite UNA gaining 47 yards in their final possession, the Texas A&M-Commerce defense forced UNA to go for a 55 field goal when Texas A&M Commerce defense sacked UNA quarterback Blake Hawkins on third down.

UNA kicker Joe Gurley was unable to give the Lions a win when Texas A&M-Commerce blocked his 55-yard field goal attempt.

UNA Head Football Coach Chris Willis said he views this loss as a learning opportunity for his team early on in the season.

“We can build from it,” Willis said. “We didn’t quit, but we didn’t come out on the winning end of this. We’ve got to finish drives and score points at the end of the day.”

This was Willis’s first game as UNA head coach.

This was the first time UNA and Texas A&M-Commerce met. Texas A&M-Commerce are the three-time defending Lone Star Conference champion. The NCAA Division II poll picked Texas A&M Commerce to win the LSC again. UNA is picked to win the Gulf South Conference.

UNA will continue its season Sept. 16 in Georgia against GSC rival Valdosta State.