Lions claim consecutive conference championships

For the second straight season, the Lions claim at least a share of the Gulf South Conference Championship after defeating archrival the University of West Alabama 24-16 Nov. 13 in Livingston.

UNA (9-1, 6-1) will share the conference title with Delta State University, if the Statesmen take care of Mississippi College Nov. 15.

“I don’t think we played a complete game tonight,” said head coach Bobby Wallace. “But I’m glad we’re conference champions.”

The Lions only managed 326 yards of offense on the evening while West Alabama put up 453.

Similar to last season’s matchup, the UNA’s defense tightened up when the Tigers got into the red zone, forcing one turnover while getting two fourth down stops.

Do-it-all quarterback Kyle Caldwell led the charge for the Tigers passing for 316 yards and two touchdowns as well as running for another 56 yards.

“I thought we did a good job containing him,” Wallace said. “But he’s a special player and you go in (to the game) expecting him to make some plays.”

The Lions got off to a fast start when they took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards in five plays. The drive was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by junior running back Lamonte Thompson.

West Alabama answered with a score of their own when Caldwell hit Chad Toocheck for a nine yard touchdown pass to even things up at 7-7.

Thompson scored late in the first quarter again on a 13-yard run that put the Lions ahead going into the half.

“We really struggled to stay consistent on offense in the second quarter,” Wallace said. “But our defense played good enough where it didn’t hurt us too bad.”

West Alabama got a field goal early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14-10, but the Lion scored 10 unanswered the points to extend the lead to 24-10.

Caldwell completed a Hail Mary pass to end the contest, completing his final throw as a West Alabama Tiger.

The Lions will now await their playoff fate when the D-II football selection committee puts out its final rankings Sunday afternoon.

“I hope we don’t have to matchup with a Gulf South Conference team in the first round,” Wallace said. “Other than that, I don’t care who we play.”