UNA rallies back to win a thriller over 20th ranked West Alabama

The University of North Alabama rallied from a 24-10 halftime deficit to knock off 20th ranked West Alabama 30-27 in overtime in front of a crowd of 12,526 at Braly Stadium. The win by the Lions moves UNA into a tie for first place in the Gulf South Conference at 4-1 with West Alabama and Delta State.

UNA is now 6-2 overall and has won its last five straight games.

West Alabama gained 294 yards in the first half and got two UNA turnovers to take a two touchdown, 24-10 lead at the half. North Alabama's defense shutout the Tigers in the second half, however, and the Lions scored two touchdowns, tying the game with 12:52 in regulation play.

West Alabama settled for a field goal on its overtime possession and North Alabama then drove for a touchdown on just four plays, with quarterback Luke Wingo scoring on a 16-yard run to give UNA the win.

It was the Lions second straight win over a nationally ranked team, following the Lions 57-7 road win at No. 11 Valdosta State last Saturday.

This was the 67th meeting between North Alabama and West Alabama, with the Lions now holding a commanding 49-17-1 advantage. UNA is 30-6 all-time against the Tigers in Florence.

North Alabama picked up 480 yards of total offense with 190 rushing and 290 passing. Wingo was 13-of-26 passing for 275 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 72 yards and three more scores. Jason Smith caught eight passes for 154 yards for UNA and Korey Jones caught two passes for 104 yards. Wingo has now rushed for 11 touchdowns this season and UNA's quarterbacks have combined to rush for 17 touchdowns this season.

West Alabama's Javae Swindle rushed for 228 yards on 30 carries but he was held to 54 yards in the second half. UWA quarterback Kyle Caldwell threw for 144 yards and one TD and rushed for 53 yards and another score.

West Alabama scored on the game's opening possession, driving 78 yards in 13 plays. Mark Grant kicked a 28-yard field goal to cap the drive at the 9:39 mark of the first quarter.

North Alabama answered immediately with a 63-yard, five-play drive for a touchdown. Wingo scored on a four-yard run and Will Craig's PAT made it 7-3 at 7:52 of the first quarter.

West Alabama scored just over a minute later as Swindle circled left end and went 70 yards for a touchdown. Grant's extra-point made it 10-7 West Alabama at 6:44 of the first quarter.

North Alabama tied the game with just two seconds left in the first quarter on a 44-yard Will Craig field goal. It capped a 16-play, 62-yard drive.

The second quarter belonged to West Alabama as the Tigers got two touchdowns, one following a UNA turnover. First Caldwell scored on an 11-yard run at 12:38 of the second quarter to give West Alabama a 17-10 lead. He then passed 20 yards to Chad Toocheck to extend the lead at 24-10 just 13 seconds later after UNA fumbled the ball away on a kickoff return.

North Alabama scored early in the third quarter to get back in the game. Wingo passed two yards to Grant Lake for the touchdown to end a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Michael Schuster's PAT pulled UNA to within seven at 24-17 at 10:57 of the third quarter.

The Lions tied the game at 24-24 with 12:52 left in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Wingo to cap a 97-yard, five play drive. The key play in the drive was a 92-yard pass from Wingo to Korey Jones.

UNA appeared to be driving toward a possible game-winning score in the fourth quarter, driving from its own 11-yard line to the West Alabama 28. But on a third down and seven play, Wingo was picked off in the end zone by Keith Jones.

In overtime, West Alabama gained one first down but then stalled at the UNA 16. Grant booted a 33-yard field goal and the Tigers led 27-24.

On its possession, UNA was backed up by a penalty but then got an 11-yard pass from Wingo to Smith to move to the UWA 16. On a third-and-one call, Wingo raced up the middle, spun away from a tackle and bulled into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

It was UNA's first overtime win since 2006, breaking a four-game losing streak in overtime games.