A University of North Alabama defense that was allowing just 16 points per game was battered for 31 points and West Georgia added an interception return for a touchdown as the Wolves handed UNA a pivotal 38-23 Gulf South Conference loss at University Stadium. The loss was the second straight for UNA and drops the Lions to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the GSC.
West Georgia snapped a four-game losing skid with the win and is now 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the GSC.
North Alabama's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Lions over West Georgia and was the Wolves first win over UNA in Carrollton since 2001.
Leading 20-17 at the half, UNA could not stop West Georgia in the third quarter as the Wolves scored touchdowns on both of its possessions in the period on runs by freshman quarterback Dallas Dickey. Donovan Jackson then added a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the Wolves lead.
West Georgia rushed for 314 yards and had 372 total yards, while not committing a turnover. Seth Hinsley and David Bailey both rushed for more than 100 yards for the Wolves.
UNA had the ball for just over six minutes of the second half and managed just three points over the final 30 minutes. The Lions rushed for 134 yards and passed for 198 for 332 total yards.
The Lions took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards in 12 plays for the first score of the game. Freshman quarterback Luke Wingo in his first collegiate start, completed two passes for 15 yards and rushed for another 49 yards, including the final yard for the touchdown. Taylor Pontius added the extra point and UNA led 7-0 at the 9:35 mark of the first quarter.
West Georgia answered immediately with a touchdown drive of its own, led by Dickey. Dickey ran 21 yards for the touchdown on the eighth play of the drive and Davis Brackett's PAT tied the game at 7-7 at 5:39 of the first quarter.
After an exchange of punts, UNA was on the move again, driving 61 yards in seven plays. Wingo had a key 17-yard pass to Jason Smith, then hit freshman Lee Mayhall on a 30-yard TD pass. Pontius PAT gave UNA a 14-7 lead at 14:48 of the second period.
West Georgia again answered, driving 75 yards in just five plays to tie the game. Seth Hinsley scored on an eight-yard run and Brackett's PAT made it 14-14 at 10:52 of the second quarter.
North Alabama took the lead again on its ensuing drive as Pontius nailed a 41-yard field goal with 6:55 left in the half. A 35-yard field goal by Brackett tied the game for the third time with just 1:36 left in the half, but the scoring for the half wasn't over. UNA got a break on the ensuing drive as a West Georgia penalty on a fourth down punt kept the Lions' drive alive. Pontius then hit a 24-yard field goal with just one second left to give UNA a 20-17 lead at intermission.
West Georgia opened the second half with a 75-yard, nine-play drive to take its first lead of the game. A 34-yard run by Dickey put the Wolves in scoring position and he then scored his second touchdown of the day on a one-yard run. Brackett's PAT gave West Georgia a 24-20 lead with 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
After forcing a UNA punt, West Georgia drove 80 yards in 15 plays to extend its lead. UNA committed two crucial personal foul penalties on fourth down calls that gave the Wolves first downs and kept the drive alive. Dickey scored on a one-yard TD dive and Brackett's PAT made it 31-20 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.
North Alabama chipped away at the lead later in the quarter as Pontius drilled a 42-yard field goal to close the gap to 31-23 with 45 seconds left in the period.
Jackson's interception return for a touchdown with 9:16 left in the game made the final count 38-23.
Bailey had 118 rushing yards on 27 carries and Hinsley added 115 on 22 carries for the Wolves. Wingo led UNA with 86 rushing yards on 13 carries and was 17-of-35 passing for 226 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice. Smith had 106 receiving yards on six catches for UNA.
North Alabama now has a week off before hosting Tarleton State at Braly Stadium at 3 p.m. on November 3.