STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Victor Gabalis passed for 301 yards and connected with Keylan Johnson for four touchdowns to help Tarleton State beat North Alabama 52-31 on Saturday in a United Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Johnson tied a program record with four receiving touchdowns — covering 13, 64, 55 and 16 yards. His 219 yards receiving rank fifth in program history for a single game.
Tarleton outscored North Alabama 21-3 in the third quarter for a 38-31 lead. The Texans sealed it when DL Robert Rios returned an interception 50 yards with 10:36 remaining in the fourth. It was the converted offensive lineman's first career interception.
Kayvon Britten and Derrel Kelley III each added one rushing touchdown for Tarleton State (2-0).
Noah Walters completed 36-of-63 passes for 342 yards with one interception for North Alabama (1-2). Demarcus Lacey added 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Lions will be back on the road next week at Tennessee Tech. Kickoff for the non-conference matchup is set for 6 p.m. in Cookeville.
NOTES FROM UNA
UNA has scored at least 28 points in all four meetings against Tarleton, averaging 30 per game. The Lions had 33 first downs on Saturday, just three short of the record set in the 2010 Glenville State game. North Alabama ran 109 plays, nearly double that of the 55 run by Tarleton State.
Per UNA's statistics, Noah Walters completed "36-of-63 passes for 342 yards. The 63 attempts broke a school record set back in 2005 by Vinnie Saylor at 58 against Central Arkansas. Walters was one completion short of tying Saylor for that all-time record."