Lamonte Thompson rushed for 173 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead the University of North Alabama to its 13th consecutive season-opening win as the Lions downed Miles College 34-17 at Legion Field.
The win kept UNA perfect all-time against Miles at 9-0 and the Lions improved to 41-5-1 all-time against teams from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The official attendance of 21,834 marked the fourth largest crowd in UNA football history.
With UNA leading 27-3 in the fourth quarter, Miles rallied to score its first touchdown of the night on a one-yard run by David Whipple. The Golden Bears then recovered an onside kick and Whipple scored again, this time from 33 yards out to close UNA's lead to 27-17 with 4:31 left in the game.
Miles attempted another onside kick but UNA recovered at the Golden Bears 42 and marched in for a game-securing touchdown. Thompson scored on a 31-yard run and Henke's kick made the score 34-17 with 2:36 left in the game.
Thompson's 173 yards marked his third career game with more than 100 yards against Miles. He gained 102 against the Golden Bears in his first collegiate game in 2012 and followed with 189 against Miles in 2013. Thompson now has nine career 100-yard rushing games.
North Alabama finished with 427 yards of total offense, rushing for 240 and passing for 187. The Lions lost two fumbles and threw an interception. Luke Wingo was 18-of-26 passing for 187 yards and one touchdown and Lee Mayhall had six catches for 84 yards.
Miles had 224 total yards, rushing for 128 and passing for 96. The Golden Bears had two turnovers.
North Alabama held the ball for 14 plays on its opening possession but failed to score. The Lions moved from their own 19-yard line to the Miles 31 before the drive stalled. Kevin Henke came on to attempt a 48-yard field goal but was wide left.
Miles took the ensuing kickoff and drove for the game's first score. The Golden Bears drove to the UNA 35 before Nick Christiansen boomed a 53-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 26 seconds left in the opening period.
North Alabama got its first score late in the half as Jacob Tucker engineered a 53-yard, seven-play drive to the end zone. Lamonte Thompson scored on a nine-yard run and Henke's PAT gave the Lions a 7-3 lead with 2:39 left in the half.
UNA had another scoring opportunity before the half after Miles shanked a punt deep in its own territory. The Lions moved to the Golden Bears 14 before Luke Wingo was picked off at the goal line and Jibril Cox returned it to the Miles 37. The Lions returned the favor moments later when UNA's Darvell Harris picked off a Vincent Davis pass and returned it to the Miles two. After a penalty on Miles moved the ball to the one, Wingo hit Dre Hall in the back corner of the end zone with a TD pass. Henke's PAT made it 14-3 with nine seconds left in the half.
UNA pushed its lead to 14 points on its first possession of the second half as Henke connected on a 27-yard field goal attempt. The Lions drove to the Miles four-yard line before the Golden Bears defense halted the possession. Henke's kick with 12:39 left in the third quarter gave UNA a 17-3 lead.
Henke added a 32-yard field goal with 6:46 left in the third period to extend UNA's lead to 20-3.
A UNA fumble gave Miles the ball at the Lions' 36-yard line late in the quarter but the North Alabama defense stopped the Golden Bears on a fourth down try on a tackle by Frank Williams.
The Lions drove for a touchdown on their next possession with Wingo scoring on a one-yard run. Henke's Pat made it 27-3 with 12:21 left in the game.
With the win, UNA head coach Bobby Wallace recorded his 107th win with the Lions and is just two wins behind Hal Self in his quest to become the school's all-time winningest coach.
North Alabama opens Gulf South Conference play at home on Sept. 12 against Mississippi College at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium.