Lions looking to clinch conference with win over Delta State

Junior quarterback Luke Wingo looks down field for an open receiver against the University of West Georgia Oct. 25. The Lions won 31-28. A win this Saturday against Delta State University guarantees at least a share of the conference title.

A win for the Lions this weekend against Delta State University will guarantee at least a tie for the Gulf South Conference Championship.

No. 3 UNA (7-0, 4-0) faces its toughest test of the season when the team travels to Cleveland, Mississippi to face a 6-1 Statesmen squad. UNA and Delta State sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in the GSC standings, respectively.

“There’s a lot at stake for them, and there’s a lot at stake for us,” said coach Bobby Wallace. “Bottom line is if we win Saturday we’re ordering our (championship) rings and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.”

The Lions will be looking to repeat as conference champions for the first time since 1994-95.

“That’s our first goal when we start playing is to win the conference championship and we have a chance to reach our goal Saturday,” Wallace said.

UNA has not lost a regular season game since losing to Delta State 37-34, Sept. 21, 2013.

“I don’t think the revenge factor will play much of a role because we already have enough motivation to go out and win the conference,” Wallace said.

Delta State’s lone loss this season was 24-16 against the University of West Georgia Oct. 18.

UNA beat West Georgia 31-28 in a come from behind thriller Oct. 24.

The Lions’ defense will have its hands full as the Statesmen’s offense ranks No. 1 in the GSC in scoring offense (47.3 points per game), total offense (503.4 yards per game) and passing offense (346.7 yards per game).

“They’re very explosive offensively and throw it a lot,” Wallace said. “They have great receivers and a great quarterback and keep you off balance with the run.”

Delta State has the top passing and receiving threat in the GSC with quarterback Tyler Sullivan, who has thrown for 2,281 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and wide receiver Casey Osborne, who has 738 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

UNA will try to slow down the Statesmen attack with the GSC top ranked defense. The Lions are first in scoring defense (15.9 points per game) and total defense (314 yards per game).

“It’s a good match up for us because we got a good secondary,” Wallace said. “The defensive front will have to put pressure on the quarterback. We won’t stop them, they’re too powerful but hopefully we can slow them down.”

Wallace said tackling in space will be a major factor in the game because Delta State likes to throw short quick passes.

The Lions’ offense boasts the No. 2 ranked scoring offense in the GSC with 38.1 points per game.

The offense is led by quarterback Luke Wingo who has thrown for 1,019 yards and has 11 total touchdowns on the season.

Wingo said he is ready to play another big game after winning one last Saturday.

“(Delta State) has an awesome team but if we stay focus we’ll go out there and win the conference Saturday,” he said.

The offense may need to rely on Wingo’s arm a little more than usual this game as the Statesmen’s have the No. 1 ranked rushing defense in the GSC.

“They like to stack the box and send a lot of rushers,” Wallace said. “It should give us opportunities in the passing game, so we’ll have to see if we can take advantage of that.”

UNA is the only undefeated team in the state and also in the GSC. The Lions want to keep it that way too.

“It’s exciting to still be undefeated but we have stay focused going into Delta State and do what we do,” said junior receiver Delvon Carpenter.

Kickoff time for UNA and Delta State is 6 p.m. Nov. 1. The game will be available for live streaming on ESPN3.