Florence, AL – The University of North Alabama broke open a close game with the score tied 7-7 late in the second quarter en route to a 48-21 victory on a beautiful northern Alabama night.
Both teams got off to slow start as GSC quarterback Darold Hughes was picked off by Tommie Westbrook at 10:30 in the first quarter on the Pioneers first offensive possession. The Pioneers defense held the Lions to three and out forcing a punt on their first possession.
The Pioneers returned the favor as they went three and out on their second possession. After a Tanner Collins punt, UNA drove 64 yards in 11 plays with Lions quarterback Lee Chapple hitting Cameron Wade with an 11 yard TD pass as the Lions got on the board 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Pioneers had a 6 play, 80 yard drive as Joe Mesadieu scored on a one yard run, knotting the game at 7-7 with 13:38 to play in the second quarter. The Lions got the ball back but could not gain any ground as they again went three and out.
On the Pioneers next possession, on fourth down and seven, Tanner Collins ran a fake punt 13 yards, moving the chains for the Pioneers and giving them a fresh set of downs. The Pioneers could not however, find the end zone, and ended up turning the ball over on downs.
UNA then came right back down the field with a 7 play, 57 yard scoring drive as Chris Coffey scored from one yard out putting the Lions ahead 14-7. The Pioneers couldn’t find any offense as they turned the ball over again on fourth and one.
The Lions saw another opportunity to put points on the board right before the half as they drove 65 yards in eight plays with Chapple throwing his second TD pass of the night putting the Lions up 21-7 at the half.
At the start of the third quarter UNA drove right down the field on the opening possession as Chapple hit Antwan Ivey for his third touchdown pass of the evening as the Lions extended the lead to 28-7. UNA would score again in the third off of a Janoris Jenkins 87 yard punt return for a touchdown making it 34-7.
The Pioneers would then find the endzone once more as Steffen Colon hit Mario Wright for a 19 yard touchdown pass making it 14-34. On the next UNA possession Terry Reese intercepted Chapple as the third quarter came to a close.
In the fourth North Alabama would score two more times, off of a Chapple TD pass, and a TD pass from Chris Alexander. The Pioneers would also find the end zone again as Kareem Alexander had a three yard touchdown run to close out the scoring. The Lions would go on to defeat the Pioneers 21-48.
Joe Mesadieu rushed for 53 yards on 16 attempts and a touchdown, while Kareem Alexander toted the ball 6 times for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Darold Hughes went 15 for 23 for 165 yards, but also threw two interceptions, while Steffen Colon went 6 for 17, and 56 yards with a touchdown.
Jordan Griffin hauled in 8 catches for 42 yards, while Mario Wright caught 4 balls for 62 yards and a touchdown. Jakharie Murphy had a good game as he finished with 194 all purpose yards.
The Pioneers defense was led by Donald Marshall as he racked up 13 tackles; Norman Seignious recorded 6.5 tackles in the game. Terry Reese and Shawn Stackhouse both had an interception in the game.
North Alabama was led by Lee Chapple as he went 28 for 39 for 317 yards with four touchdown passes and one interception.
Wes Holland led the ground attack with 53 rushing yards on 9 attempts. Mo Miliam caught a game high 9 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Tristan Purifoy hauled in 6 balls for 97 yards.
The Pioneers had a slight edge over the Lions on the ground as they rushed for 174 yards to UNA’s 66 yards.
The Pioneers return to action next Saturday as they battle rival Fairmont State, which is known as the Battle for the Bit. Kickoff will be at 12:00 p.m.