Football on verge of fourth-straight title

Lions offensive players celebrate a Terence Humphrey touchdown against Valdosta State Sept. 17 in Florence. North Alabama looks to clinch a conference title with two games left.

With the win over the Delta State Statesmen Oct. 29, the No. 7 North Alabama Lions inch closer to claiming an unprecedented fourth-straight Gulf South Conference title.

The Lions (6-1, 5-0 GSC) currently sit at the top of the GSC standings as the only undefeated team in conference play.

Additionally, UNA is ranked No.1 in the Super Region 2 rankings, which determines playoff seeding.

The game at Delta State (4-5, 3-4 GSC) was a tale of two halves.

The Lions held a 21-13 lead at halftime after a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jacob Tucker to junior wide receiver Julius Jones, but UNA struggled to capitalize on multiple opportunities.

“I thought we came out in the first half a little lethargic,” said UNA defensive coordinator Chris Willis. “I didn’t think the energy level was high. I don’t know if it was because it was our first day game and it was hot, but it was concerning.”

The Lions erupted in the third quarter, scoring 21 points in the first three minutes of the quarter.

After scoring on a four-play, 65-yard drive to open the second half, the Lions used back-to-back interceptions to score and jump to a 42-13 lead, one of which was a 30-yard pick-six by senior linebacker Eddrick Harris.

“We seem to be a good second-half team,” Willis said. “All of the assistant coaches do a good job of making adjustments at halftime to put us in good positions.”

UNA and Delta State each added another touchdown to make the final score 49-19.

This week, the Lions face another GSC foe in the West Florida Argonauts (5-4, 3-3 GSC), which is the final regular season home game.

The Argonauts bring the GSC-leading pass offense to Braly Stadium with 3,264-yards passing and 32 touchdowns as a team through the air.

“This is another big game for us,” said senior defensive lineman E.J. Parnell. “They have a good, explosive offense. We want to come out and dominate like we have been doing.”

The West Florida game also marks senior day for the players who will take the field for the final guaranteed time.

Senior punter Jeb Millender said it is surreal to play his final home game, but he remains optimistic for further home games in the playoffs.

“On one hand, it’s the last home game, on the other, it’s win it and the next game against Mississippi College, then we are guaranteed at least three more home games (in the playoffs),” Millender said.

Kickoff for the West Florida game is Nov. 5 1:30 p.m. at Braly Stadium.