FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Sixth-ranked North Alabama couldn't overcome the elements and its own mistakes in d ropping a 24-22 decision to Western Oregon in a driving rain at McArthur Field.
Down 24-16 in the fourth quarter, UNA rallied for a touchdown with 1:28 to play to pull within two points at 26-24 but the try-for-two failed.
The Lions then recovered an on-side kick and drove to Western Oregon's 23-yard line before UNA turned the ball over for the fifth time with 20 seconds to play.
Western Oregon then ran out the clock to secure the win.
UNA, now 4-1 overall, turned the ball over on its first three possessions and four times in the first half before rallying to take a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Western Oregon's offense then kicked in for back-to-back touchdown drives behind back-up quarterback Phillip Fenumiai to take the lead 24-16 in the final period.
North Alabama then answered with its first touchdown drive of the half as Luke Wingo connected with Lee Mayhall five times for 71 yards. The final 16-yard touchdown pass came on a fourth-and-12 call. Wingo threw incomplete on the try-for-two but UNA had closed the gap to 26-24.
After recovering an onside kick, UNA moved from its own 35 to the WOU 23 before Wingo was picked off for the second time.
With the win, WOU improves to 3-3.
Down 10-7 at the half, North Alabama put together three long drives in the third quarter and got stops from its defense to take a 16-10 lead.
Henke hit a 43-yard field goal with 10:09 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10. He then connected from 28 yards out to give UNA a 13-10 lead with 2:20 left in the third. Henke's third field goal, this time from 35 yards, gave UNA a 16-10 lead with 11:32 left in the game.
Western Oregon then mounted its best offensive possession of the day, going 79 yards in six plays to regain the lead. The key play in the drive was a 45-yard run by Malik Braxton to move the ball to the UNA 13. Two plays later Fenumiai carried the ball 13 yards to the end zone. Correa's kick gave WOU a 17-16 lead with 10:11 left in the game.
After a defensive stop, Western Oregon drove for another touchdown as Fenumiai passed eight yards to Andy Avgi for the touchdown. Correa's kick made it 24-16 with 4:35 left in the game.
Despite turning the ball over four times in the first half, North Alabama went into halftime down just 10-7.
Wingo was picked off on the game's opening possession by Danny Hankins at the UNA 40 but the Lions defense forced a punt. Four plays later Wingo was hit from behind and fumbled the ball back to the Wolves at the UNA 27-yard line. The defense again held and Jesse Correa booted a 39-yard field goal to give WOU a 3-0 lead at 8:00 of the first quarter.
On UNA's next possession, back-up quarterback Jacob Tucker was picked off Jonathan Breland at the UNA 37. The Wolves drove to the 15-yard line before lining up to attempt a field goal. Instead, Paul Revis threw a touchdown pass to Devin Williams off a fake field goal. Correa's PAT made it 10-0 at 4:08 of the first quarter.
Early in the second period, WOU missed a 34-yard field goal attempt but UNA was whistled for a personal foul, giving the Wolves new life. Two plays later DeAndre Harrison forced a fumble and Barron Miller recovered to stop the threat.
With just over five minutes to play in the half, Wingo fumbled at the UNA 11-yard line but the defense made another stand and forced a WOU punt after pushing the ball back to the 30.
North Alabama finally got on the board with 1:08 left in half when Wingo hit Eric Belew with a 60-yard touchdown pass. Kevin Henke added the extra-point to cut the WOU lead to 10-7.
North Alabama hosts North Carolina-Pembroke next Saturday (Oct. 17) at 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium for Homecoming.
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