UNA ready for showdown with Valdosta State

Junior running back Lamonte Thompson tries to break free from a Langston University defender’s tackle Sept. 20. Thompson rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries as the Lions defeated Langston 56-7.

After dominating its first two opponents by a combined score of 114-7, No. 5 UNA will turn its attention to Gulf South Conference rival No. 21 Valdosta State University.

This Saturday will mark the 15th time both teams have entered the game being ranked, creating another testament to how rich the tradition is between the two schools.

“I’m looking forward to a great football game because this will be two great programs with tremendous tradition,” said head coach Bobby Wallace. “Since 1990 both of us have won 200 plus games, and we’ve both won three national championships since that time. It’s just two programs that are very similar in tradition.”

The Lions (2-0, 1-0) have yet to be tested this year while the Blazers (2-1, 0-1) have already faced two ranked opponents, No. 15 Winston-Salem State University and No. 12 Delta State University. VSU lost to GSC opponent DSU last week 49-32.

“They got beat last week by Delta but they turned it over four times, and they still had 500 plus yards on offense,” Wallace said. “That game was a shoot out and they have a really good football team. It will be a very high intense game.”

The Lions will try to keep their high potent offense rolling when they face its first ranked opponent of the season. UNA has scored 50 points in back-to-back games for the second time in school history.

“I’m proud of how our guys are playing, their execution has been pretty good,” said offensive coordinator Cody Gross. “The competition is about to pick up so we’re about to see what we’re made of.”

UNA has also started both games fast as they have scored on 12 of its 14 possessions in the first half.

The Lions have also displayed tremendous offensive depth as the 16 total touchdowns have been scored by 13 different players.

“We have a lot of weapons on offense and as the year goes on some of them will emerge as the go-to guy,” Wallace said. “Right now it’s just have a cluster of guys and you see that in the scoring. It’s just a lot of weapons that the defense has to defend.”

The Blazers boast an offense averaging 415 yards and 30.7 points per game.

“Our guys on defense love competition, and when a team like Valdosta comes to play we know how we must prepare,” said senior defensive lineman Taylor Carney.

Valdosta State senior quarterback Jake Medlock has passed for 456 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns. Standing 6’3” and weighing 226 pounds, Medlock is a big athletic player the Lions defense will try to contain.

While sophomore quarterback Kaleb Nobles has also got in on the action with 298 passing yards and three touchdowns.

After leading the NCAA in interceptions last season the Lions have already forced nine total turnovers in just two games, and UNA’s defense knows turnovers will be key against the Blazers.

“We pride ourselves on turnovers,” Carney said. “We know if we win the turnover battle, we’ll win the game.”

This may be a home game for UNA but it does not necessarily give the Lions the advantage, Wallace said.

“The visiting team has gotten the upper hand the last six meetings,” he said. “We need to reverse that trend this weekend.”