Banged up Lions ready for road test in North Carolina

Sophomore quarterback Jacob Tucker absorbs a hit from a Western Oregon University defender Oct. 4. In his first career start at UNA Tucker finished with 190 total yards and two touchdowns.

UNA (4-0, 2-0) left homecoming Oct. 4 unsatisfied after winning 30-10 against Western Oregon University, a game plagued by penalties and sloppy play.

The Lions left the game with a few injuries to some key players too.

Sophomore quarterback Jacob Tucker received his first start of his career due to the injury of junior quarterback Luke Wingo.

Wingo sat out against Western Oregon because of a shoulder injury but hopefully will be able to play against the Braves, Wallace said.

“It’s his throwing shoulder but he’s so much better now,” he said. “The scary part is Jacob Tucker (also injured) has two broken bones in the bottom of his foot. It’s something he could possibly play with if it’s an old injury, because the soreness will go away faster if he’s always had it. If it’s new it will depend on how he can stand the soreness.”

Wallace said Wingo is day-to-day while Tucker may need further evaluation.

The offensive line also faced a multitude of injuries so far this season.

“We’ve just been very unfortunate,” Wallace said. “We knew we were thin there. We lost (junior) Jess (Cooper) (to a knee sprain) and now we lost (freshman) Laurence Carmichael to a severe ankle sprain.”

Wallace said junior offensive lineman Rod Winston, who suffered a sprain ankle against Langston Sept. 20, should closer to 100 percent this Saturday.

This week the Lions face a road test when they travel to the University of North Carolina-Pembroke Oct. 11. The Lions beat UNC-Pembroke 37-13 last year in the second round of the Division II playoffs.

The Braves went 9-2 last year but have struggled so far this season with a 1-3 record.

Their offense has struggled to score with 10.8 points per game this season.

“Since last year they’ve lost their coach and they were a senior (heavy) football team too,” Wallace said. “They have a good defense but have struggled offensively because of the new quarterback and new offensive line, but they are a good football team.

The Lions will bring an offense to Pembroke, North Carolina that is averaging 43.8 points per game, second in the Gulf South Conference.

UNA is led by its potent rushing attack ranking No. 1 in the GSC with 263.8 yards per game. Junior running back Lamonte Thompson leads the way for the Lions with 367 yards and three touchdowns.

“First off, he’s very talented. He’s not a big guy in stature but nobody has a bigger heart than Lamonte does,” said offensive coordinator Cody Gross. “He runs the ball with his heart and he seems to get stronger as the game goes.”

The defense has been impressive for the Lions. They are No. 2 in both scoring defense (11.5) and total defense (233.2) in the GSC.

The defense has been able to shutdown the air attack this season, allowing only two passing touchdowns and picking off eight passes.

“We like to rush only three guys so we have as many people we can in coverage to stop the passing game,” said defensive coordinator Chris Willis. “We feel by doing this we can eliminate as many big plays as possible and we pride ourselves on turnovers.”

The Lions believe they have not reached their full potential yet and will look to finally put it all together when they face the Braves, Wallace said.

“We haven’t came close to reaching our full potential but if we don’t start improving I’m not sure we will,” he said. “That’s disappointing for me because that’s the coaches job.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. (3 p.m. EST).