Lions fall to 25th ranked Bears
Kenebrew ties school record in loss
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Redshirt senior Takairee Kenebrew scored two touchdowns to tie a school record on Saturday at Braly Stadium, but it was not enough as the University of North Alabama fell to nationally-ranked Central Arkansas 27-14 in the home finale.
Kenebrew, who entered this week tied with Jason Messing (2004-07) for second on the career reception touchdown list at UNA, caught his 24th career touchdown pass late in the third quarter. He then moved into a tie with Dre Hall (2014-17) for the all-time lead with his second touchdown late in the contest.
No. 25 Central Arkansas — who made its first visit to Braly Stadium since 2004 — took an early 21-0 lead at the break and later led 24-0 in the third quarter before the first UNA touchdown made it a two-score game.
In the final frame, UNA was able to limit UCA to one field goal and Kenebrew added a touchdown with 3:46 remaining, but the ensuing onside kick attempt was unsuccessful and time ran out on the Lions.
UNA finishes the FCS portion of its schedule with three wins, including two at home. One of those two came over Chattanooga, who is currently ranked No. 13 in the FCS Coaches Poll. The only game remaining for UNA this season is at FBS College Football Playoff contender Florida State.
The Lions dip to 3-7 on the season, while the No. 25 Bears remain hopeful for a United Athletic Conference Championship at 6-3 overall and 3-1 in league play.
Prior to the game, UNA honored 13 seniors who perhaps played their final home game at Braly Stadium.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Central Arkansas 7, North Alabama 0: The Bears started with possession and drove into enemy territory, but UNA’s K.J. Trujillo broke up a fourth down pass to the end zone to give UNA position and early momentum. This momentum was quickly erased with an interception by UCA’s Cameron Godfrey and a 17 yard touchdown pass by Will McElvain to Jarrod Barnes on the ensuing drive.
Central Arkansas 14, North Alabama 0: The Lions began moving the ball on their second drive and got to the UCA 38, but turned it over on downs and gave the Bears possession back. This led to a seven play drive capped by a 14 yard touchdown run by Darius Hale with 2:33 remaining in the quarter.
Central Arkansas 21, North Alabama 0: Both offenses sputtered in the second quarter, as the Lions and Bears traded punts four times. UNA eventually got into enemy territory to break the spell of punts for both teams, but turned it over on downs at the UCA 35 yard line with under a minute to go in the half. This allowed the Bears to steal away some momentum two plays later with a 65 yard run by Kylin James.
Central Arkansas 24, North Alabama 0: Midway through the third quarter, the Bears took over at their own 39 after a UNA punt and were able to score a 43 yard field goal from Jake Gaster to extend the lead.
Central Arkansas 24, North Alabama 8: Needing an answer, UNA quarterback Noah Walters began seeking out his top target, Kenebrew, and found him for a 28 yard touchdown connection with 3:36 left in the third quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion was a completed pass from Walters to Dennis Moody, making it 24-8.
Central Arkansas 27, North Alabama 8: A timely score by the Bears, Gaster made his second field goal of the game from 36 yards out to stretch UCA’s lead back to three possessions with 8:58 remaining. The Lions were able to limit the damage on third down in the redzone, as Keenan Hill broke up a would-be touchdown pass.
Central Arkansas 27, North Alabama 14: Midway through the fourth quarter, UNA began its run at a comeback behind a 13 play, 75 yard drive engineered by Walters and ending with a three yard touchdown pass to Kenebrew with 3:46 to go. Walters had four scrambles on the drive, as UNA converted six first downs to stay alive. The onside kick was unsuccessful and UCA ran down the remaining clock to win it.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Takairee Kenebrew has scored the first UNA touchdown in four of five home games this season.
- On top of the career receiving mark he matched today, Kenebrew sits eighth on the career receiving yard list with 1,825 yards, tallying his third 100 yard receiving game of the season tonight with seven catches for 107 yards.
- The Lions are a perfect 12-for-12 in redzone scoring dating back to the final redzone opportunity against EKU back on Sept. 30. Prior to that, UNA was 11-for-20 to start the season.
- The Bears finished with an even 400 yards, including 248 passing. The Lions had 275 yards total with 212 through the air.
- Walters finished 21-for-36 passing for 212 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Tonight broke a long streak of 71 straight passes without an interception for Walters.
- Walters also led the run game with 55 yards, including a long run of 21 yards.
- The UNA defense matched a season-high with four sacks, including solo sacks from Amauri Floyd, Philip Ossai, Jyheam Ingram and half-sacks from E.J. Colbert and Tyrik Daniels. UCA also had four sacks.
- Shaun Myers led the defense with eight tackles, while Edwin White Schultz and Ashaad Williams added seven. UCA’s Jake Golday had a game-high 11 tackles.
- UNA has had three other games end in a 27-14 score, the most recent of which happened in 1979 at Troy. The other two came at Northwestern State in 1973 and in a home win over Jacksonville State at Braly in 1956.
- The Lions now have an all-time record of 483-305-16.
COMING UP NEXT
The Lions have one more bye week before their final game of the 2023 season at No. 4 Florida State.
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