UNA survives over Florida Tech 34-31

UNA survives over Florida Tech 34-31

Florida Tech missed a 45-yard field goal attempt as time expired and the University of North Alabama pulled out a 34-31 win in a Gulf South Conference shhotout with the Panthers.

North Alabama led 34-24 in the fourth quarter before Florida Tech scored a touchdown to close the gap to three, then drove to the UNA 28 before attempting the potential game-tying kick.

With the win, North Alabama takes over the lead in the Gulf South Conference standings at 3-0 in league play. The fourth ranked Lions are 6-0 overall.

Lamonte Thompson rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns to lead the UNA offense, while quarterback Luke Wingo threw for 273 yards and one touchdown.

Florida Tech, now 4-3 and 1-2, gained 524 total yards with 280 rushing and 244 passing. FIT's Trevor Sand rushed for 191 yards on 24 carries.

The North Alabama defense had allowed just five touchdowns in five games this season but the Panthers scored four in this contest.

The win was UNA's 13th straight regular-season win.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Florida Tech drove quickly into UNA territory before the Lions Nick Johnson recovered a fumble to stop the drive. UNA took over at its own 32-yard line and drove 68 yards in eight plays for the game's first score. Luke Wingo passes of 13 yards to Jarrett Smith and 15 yards to Delvon Carpenter were key in the drive before Lamonte Thompson rushed the final 12 yards to the end zone. Taylor Pontius extra-point gave UNA a 7-0 lead at 10:07 of the first quarter. It marked the fifth time in six games this season that the Lions scored on their opening possession.


UNA's defense also set up the Lions next score as Ixavier Triplett forced and recovered another FIT fumble and returned it 19 yards to the Panthers 13-yard line. UNA could not move the ball and Pontius came on to drill a 39-yard field goal, extending the Lions lead to 10-0 at 5:06 of the first quarter.

Florida Tech had a scoring opportunity just before the end of the first quarter but the Panthers couldn't capitalize when Brion Ashley's 39-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

North Alabama then took over at its own 22 and marched 78 yards to the end zone for its third straight score. A key 16-yard pass from Wingo to Lee Mayhall on a third-and-long kept the drive alive and Thompson then cashed in with his second TD run of the day, this time from 11 yards out. Pontius PAT made it 17-0 at 12:10 of the second quarter.

Tech finally got on the board midway through the second period when Ashley was good on a 37-yard field goal attempt. The kick cut UNA's lead to 17-3 with 7:38 left in the half.

The Panthers scored again before the end of the first half when Mark Cato hit Wayne Saunders with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Ashley's PAT cut UNA's lead to 17-10 with 31 seconds left in the half.

On UNA's first possession of the second half, quarterback Luke Wingo was picked off at the FIT 47-yard line. It marked UNA's first interception thrown this season in 115 pass attempts. Florida Tech wasted little time tying the game. The Panthers scored when Cato recovered an FIT fumble at the goal line and dove into the end zone. Ashley's PAT tied the game at 17-17 with 11:19 left in the third quarter.

UNA answered quickly with a 78-yard touchdown drive of its own. Wingo connected with Mayhall for 19 yards on another key third down call, then hit Dre Hall with a 33-yard touchdown pass. Pontius kick made it 24-17 at 8:13 of the third quarter.

Tech responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive as the Panthers scored on their fourth straight possession. Cato kept the drive alive with a four-yard run on a fourth-and-one call at the UNA 16, and then connected with Terrance Bynum from 12 yards out for the touchdown. Ashley's kick made it 24-24 with 5:00 remaining in the third period.

North Alabama went back on top with a 22-yard Pontius field goal with 1:35 left in the third quarter after the UNA drive stalled at the five-yard line. The kick put UNA up 27-24.

The scoring fest took a break as the teams exchanged punts three times each before UNA got back on the board. After two holding penalties, UNA found itself with a first-and-30 at its own 31-yard line but a pair of Wingo passes to Hall and Mayhall moved the ball into FIT territory. The Lions then drove in from there with Thompson scoring the touchdown on a two-yard run. Pontius kick made it 34-24 with 5:30 left in the game.

The game was far from over as FIT quickly drove for a touchdown, covering 77 yards in nine plays. Trevor Sands scored on a five-yard run and Ashley's kick closed the score to 34-31 3:10 remaining in the game.

North Alabama returns home on Saturday, October 25 to host West Georgia at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium.