Second-half rally falls short to VSU

UNA wide receiver Jason Smith gets tripped up by Valdosta State defensive end Tevin Davis in the third quarter of the Oct. 13 game. The Lions lost 24-21 after coming back from a 24-0 deficit.

Big plays at the beginning of both halves of the UNA Lions football game against Valdosta State Oct. 13 left the Lions with a three-point loss, as they fell 24-21 after a late comeback.

The Lions will look to bounce back against Gulf South Conference foe West Georgia Oct. 18.

“We just have to go to work (Monday),” said head coach Bobby Wallace. “Our biggest thing is injuries; that is the biggest problem. If we don’t have any injuries we will be OK.”

The Lions’ playoffs chances were not hurt by the game, but they cannot afford to lose another one.

“We are 5-2, and we are just taking it one game at a time,” Wallace said. “We can get into the break 6-2 with one loss in the conference and two to go. We will have a better opportunity, but we still have to (beat West Georgia.)”

UNA and Valdosta State now both have one conference loss, while the University of West Alabama remains the only team in the GSC without a conference loss.

“It doesn’t do a thing to us, as far as our chances of being conference champions or making the playoffs,” Wallace said. “It didn’t knock us out.”

UNA will play West Alabama Nov. 8 in the last game of the regular season.

“We missed a few opportunities — we gave up some big plays on defense at the beginning of the game and again at the beginning of the third quarter,” Wallace said.

The Lions’ defense gave up an 81-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the first half and a 79-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the second half.

Apart from those two big plays, UNA’s defense held VSU to 271 yards of total offense and 10 points.

“Offensively, we made the defense play the whole first half,” Wallace said.

The crowd fell silent after the Lions gave up the touchdown pass to begin the second half.

The offense scored their first points of the game with 7:07 left in the third quarter. The Lions were down 24-7 at the end of the third.

As the fourth quarter began, the mood on the sideline and in the crowd changed. The players were holding up four fingers in the air, signifying that the game is won in the fourth quarter. The fans began to come back to life after a couple questionable calls by the referees.

The Lions scored again with 9:09 left in the third after a nine-yard pass from Luke Wingo to Jason Smith. UNA got the ball back on its own 20-yard line with 6:29 left in the game. Wingo led a drive that ended with him scoring on an eight-yard run.

The crowd erupted after Wingo’s score, with 3:56 left in the game.

The Lions, down by three, decided to kick the ball deep instead of kicking an onside that could have got them the ball back.

“If I knew we weren’t going to stop them, I would have tried the onside, but we had three timeouts and way too much time left,” Wallace said.

The Lions were unable to stop VSU, as they killed the remaining time left on the clock.

The Lions will look to bounce back quickly as they have a short week to prepare for West Georgia.

Wingo, who played all but three series against VSU, will have his first career start in the game.

“We will evaluate this film and talk about it tomorrow,” Wallace said. “(Wingo) will start next week. It doesn’t really matter; Chris Alexander might be better coming in the third series next week than Luke.”