Lions advance to quarterfinals with second half surge

Senior All-Gulf South Conference quarterback Jacob Tucker runs through a North Carolina-Pembroke defender during their NCAA Division-II second round playoff meeting Nov. 26 in Florence. North Alabama handily defeated the Braves 41-17 to advance to the third round of the playoffs with the win.

The North Alabama Lions got off to a slow start, but defeated the North Carolina-Pembroke Braves thanks to a dominant second half in the second round of the NCAA Division-II playoffs at Braly Stadium Nov. 26.

Lions head coach Bobby Wallace said the team’s performance lacked the explosiveness it had in the early season.

“Obviously this was the worse game of the year,” Wallace said. “Anytime we had a chance to put the game away, we got a 15-yard penalty or we fumbled it when we had chance to put points on the board.”

The first half was back and forth, with the Lions facing a 17-10 deficit until senior quarterback Jacob Tucker connected with junior wide receiver Dre Hall for a 43-yard touchdown, putting the Lions up 24-17 before the half.

The Lions surged to life in the second half. Tucker scored a touchdown early in the third with a 6-yard scramble to the end zone. UNA added a field goal from junior kicker Kevin Henke and a touchdown pass from Tucker to junior wide receiver Julius Jones to end the Lions scoring at 41.

Meanwhile, the defense pitched a shutout in the second half to add to their staunch play against the Braves. 

Tucker praised the defense for carrying the team while the offense found their footing

“The defense has been the backbone of our team,” Tucker said. “They are a great security blanket for when we turn the ball over four times.”

The Lions host North Greenville at Braly Stadium Dec. 3 in the third round of the playoffs. This will be a rematch from earlier this season that saw the Lions come out on top 52-21.