Lions fall in Overtime

UNA loses to Indiana State in season opener
True Freshman Quarterback Noah Walter (4) attempts a pass Thursday September 1st against...
True Freshman Quarterback Noah Walter (4) attempts a pass Thursday September 1st against Indiana State(Mason Matthews/UNA Athletics)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - True freshman quarterback Noah Walters came off the bench to spark a second-half comeback, but an errant snap in overtime cost the Lions as North Alabama came out on the short end of a 17-14 loss to Indiana State in overtime at Memorial Stadium in the season opener for both schools.

With UNA trailing 14-7 in the fourth quarter, Walters led the Lions on a game-tying 53-yard drive in six plays to tie the game at 14-14 with 48 seconds left to play. The scoring play came on a 10-yard pass from Walters to Corson Swan. Sam Contorno booted the PAT.

In overtime, UNA’s first game that required an extra period since 2013, Indiana State got the ball first but had to settle for a 25-yard Ryan O’Grady field goal to go up 17-14.

On its possession, UNA moved to the seven-yard line before an errant snap went over Walters head, resulting in a 26-yard loss to the 33. After an incompletion, UNA was going to attempt a possible 50-yard field goal but was called for delay of game. Walters then attempted a Hail-Mary pass on the final play of the game but it was deflected and picked off.

UNA finished with156 total yards to 276 for the Sycamores, with each team throwing two interceptions. The Lions also recovered a fumble.

The Sycamores posted the only score in the first quarter on a 22-yard Ryan O’Grady field goal. The kick came after the North Alabama defense stopped Indiana State on three runs inside the 10-yard line. The field goal, with 6:22 left in the first quarter, gave ISU a 3-0 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, the UNA defense was called on again and answered with another stop, this time at the Lions’ two-yard line. O’Grady came on again and booted a 25-yard field goal with 8:25 left in the half to give the Sycamores a 6-0 lead.

With the UNA offense struggling in the first half, the Lions’ defense provided the spark as Terrell Bailey picked off a Gavin Screws and returned it 49 yards to the Sycamores’ six-yard line. After he was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, UNA was moved back to the 21 to begin its possession.

The Lions were able to take the lead when ShunDerrick Powell scored on a 12-yard run around right end with 4:55 left in the half. Sam Contorno’s PAT made it 7-6.

The North Alabama defense came up with another big play before the half when Kyree Fields recovered a fumble in Lion territory to stop an ISU drive.

UNA was held to just 43 total yards of offense in the first half but held a 7-6 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, Indiana State went back on top with a touchdown early in the final period, set up by a pass interception.

Jaylen Gipson was picked off by Rylan Cole, who returned it to the UNA 17-yard line. Three plays later, Screws hit Tyce Ferrell in the end zone on a two-yard pass to put the Sycamores on top 12-7 with 11:42 left in the game.

Screws then hit Daijon Collins with a pass for the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 14-7.

North Alabama hosts Virginia-Wise next Saturday at Braly Stadium at 6:00 p.m.