UNA 39, KCU 0

Eddrick Harris (#40) and fellow players Floyd Jones (#16) and Stephen Evans (#73) run onto the field before the Sept. 15 game against Kentucky Christian University. The Lions won 39-0, recording UNA’s first shutout since 2009.

The Lions were clicking on all cylinders Sept. 15 as they shut out Kentucky Christian 39-0 in their first home win of the season. UNA will try to carry the momentum gained in this game into conference play when it plays Gulf South Conference foe Delta State.

“I just talked about Delta State in (the locker room) and you can tell it is kinda like, ‘the real season is here,” said Head Coach Bobby Wallace.

The Lions will travel to Cleveland, Miss. Sept. 22 to face Delta State. The Statesmen, who have an overall record of 1-1, have recorded 803 yards of total offense this season, compared to the Lions’ 1,119. Both teams are struggling in third-down conversions; however, the Statesmen are performing better in the red zone, scoring touchdowns 67 percent of the time, while the Lions have scored touchdowns only 45 percent in the red zone.

Both teams are under the leadership of a new coach and new starting quarterback.

In the Sept. 15 game, two Lions made exceptional performances and were honored with GSC Player of the Week honors. Kicker Michael Schuster tied UNA and GSC records after making five field goals out of six attempts; he was named GSC Special Teams Player of the week. Defensive back Rod Woodson was named GSC Defensive Player of the Week.

The Lions defense Sept. 15 was led by Woodson, who had an interception, a forced fumble and five tackles.  

True freshman Jalen Reedus was also impressive in his collegiate debut as he forced three of UNA’s five takeaways.

“I just want to go out here and help my team the best way I can,” Reedus said.

After giving up 81 points and an average of 462 yards in their first two games of the season, the Lions shut down the Knight offense, only allowing 181 yards the whole game. They also forced two safeties.

“They say that (our defense) was the weakest link, but we had to come out here and show that we are better than what we have been showing,” Reedus said.

 “I thought the defense played outstanding,” Wallace said. “They turned the ball over to the offense, so they got the ball back for them.”

The Lions’ offense was led by the feet, not the arm, of quarterback Chris Alexander. Alexander rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries including a nine-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He was 8-18 with 129 yards passing on the night. Chris Coffey also had a 100-yard rushing night, having 100 yards on eight carries. True freshman Diamond Simmons had an impressive debut as his second career carry was a 76-yard touchdown run that put the Lions up 32-0 with 3:32 left in the game.

“Offensively we moved the ball up and down the field. Obviously the red zone offense was a struggle; we (have) got to come up with an answer for (what) they were doing to us down there,” Wallace said. “The kicking game was phenomenal.”

Michael Schuster tied the school record for field goal makes in a game. He made five field goals and had two punts downed on the one yard line.

“I couldn’t have done anything without all of my teammates … My snapper Josh Roberts and my holder Daniel Almon — without them I am nothing. They have to do their jobs, and I have to do mine for all of us to work,” Schuster said.

Schuster was named GSC Player of the Week for his performance in the game, which included a career long 50-yard field goal. Coach Wallace said he believes Schuster has even more leg strength.

“If it is the last play of the game, I feel comfortable with him from 65 yards. I have no question that he can make a 65-yard field goal,” Wallace said.

As for Delta State next week, Wallace and the Lions are looking to take the first step toward their ultimate goal.

“We are getting into conference play and that is our first goal: to try to win the conference,” Wallace said. “We got a long way to go if we (are) going to do it, but we (are going) to make strides every week and see what happens.”

Delta State proved troublesome for the Lions last year as the Statesmen defeated UNA twice. Once came in the regular season, and the second time came in the second round of the NCAA Division II National Championship playoffs.

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