Lions beat Harding 28-20 on Homecoming

Lee Chapple threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to bring North Alabama back from a 20-14 deficit and lead the Lions to a 28-20 non-conference win over Harding at Braly Stadium.

The Lions, now 4-0 overall, trailed 10-7 at the half but took a 14-10 lead in the third quarter. Harding, 2-2, answered with a field goal and touchdown for a 20-14 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter. Chapple then hit Daniel Almon with a six-yard touchdown pass with 14:22 left in the game and Nathen O'Jibway's PAT put UNA on top 21-20. Then, on a crucial third-and-11 call from its his 39, Chapple hit Jason Smith with a 61-yard TD pass down the left sideline.

The UNA defense, under attack all day from Harding's triple-option offense, forced a fumble and the Lions were able to run the final 4:31 off the clock.

Harding rushed for 381 yards and picked up 421 total yards on 74 offensive plays. UNA passed for 308 yards and rushed for just 25. Two of the Lions' scoring drives were one-play drives following Harding turnovers.

Chapple finished the game 21-of-31 for 308 yards and three TDs. Mo Miliam led UNA's receivers with six catches for 90 yards.

Colton Kamper led Harding with 109 yards rushing on seven carries.

Harding took the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown. Quarterback Chaz Rogers rushed the final three yards to the end zone. Eddy Carmona's extra point gave Harding a 7-0 lead with 8:47 left in the first quarter.

UNA's John Ware caused and recovered a Harding fumble on the Bisons' next possession. The Lions scored on the next play as Chapple passed 45 yards to Miliam for the score. O'Jibway's kick tied the game at 7-7  with 3:46 left in the opening quarter.

Harding regained the lead with 5:25 left in the half on a 32-yard Carmona field goal.

Early in the third quarter UNA's James Brook stripped the ball from Rogers and Antwan Ivey scored on a 13-yard run on the next play to put UNA on top. O'Jibway's kick made it 14-10 with 13:18 left in the third quarter.

A 42-yard Carmona field goal closed the gap to 14-13 with 5:48 left in the third, then Rogers scored on a one-yard run with 1:51 left in the third to give Harding a 20-14 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Harding tried an oneside kick but UNA's Brad Terron recovered at the Harding 44-yard line. UNA scored seven plays later on Chapple's pass to Almon to take the lead with 14:22 left. The 61-yard pass to Smith then extended the margin to 28-20.

Harding drove to the UNA 17-yard line before Rogers and Donatella Luckett collided in the Bisons' backfield and the Lions' Richie Mataffa was there for the recovery.

With UNA trying to run out the clock, Chapple hit Tristan Purifoy for a 50-yard gain on a third-and-16 call from the UNA 15. The :Lions were then able to run out the clock.

It was UNA's seventh straight Homecoming win and gives the Lions a 7-5 advantage over Harding in the all-time series. It was also UNA's 17th straight regular-season win against non-Gulf South Conference schools.

North Alabama travels to Southern Arkansas next Saturday to face the Mule Riders at 6 p.m.