WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Down 35-10 in the second half, the University of North Alabama rallied for four touchdowns over the final two periods but it wasn’t enough as the Lions fell to 20th ranked Monmouth, 49-38 at Kessler Stadium.
UNA, facing its fourth ranked opponent on the road this season, is now 3-7. The Lions lost two turnovers in Monmouth territory and failed to convert on a fourth down try near midfield in the first half but just trailed 14-7 at intermission. The Lions then lost a fumble deep in their own territory in the third quarter as the Hawks offense got rolling for four second half TDs.
UNA quarterback Christian Lopez completed 24 of 36 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another score and caught a TD pass. The Lions finished with 445 yards of total offense but lost three turnovers and turned the ball over on downs twice in their own territory.
Jakobi Byrd had five catches for 117 yards for the Lions and Cortez Hall caught seven passes for 80 yards.
North Alabama’s offense was able to move the ball effectively on its first two possessions, driving deep into Monmouth territory before turning the ball over on fumbles.
The Hawks were able to turn the second turnover into a score as they drove 77 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Kenji Bahar hit Terrance Greene, Jr., with a 27-yard pass that he took to the end zone with 2:16 left in the first quarter. Matt Mosquera added the extra-point to make it 7-0.
On the Hawks next possession, UNA’s K.J. Smith picked off a Bahar pass and returned it to the Monmouth 10-yard line. Terence Humphrey carried the ball to the two on first down but the Hawks held the Lions out of the end zone on the next two plays. On a fourth-and-goal call, Christian Lopez hit Cortez Hall with a two-yard TD pass. Joe Gurley’s PAT tied the game at 7-7 with 11:25 left in the second quarter.
North Alabama faced another fourth down situation on its next possession near midfield but Lopez was sacked on the play, giving Monmouth the ball at the UNA 40. The Hawks scored five plays later on a 15-yard TD pass from Bahar to Lonnie Moore, IV. Mosquera’s PAT made it 14-7 at 7:09 of the second quarter.
The Hawks had another scoring opportunity before the half but Mosquera was wide right on a 32-yard field goal attempt with 46 seconds left in the half.
Monmouth took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove for a touchdown to extend its lead to 21-7. The Lions had a chance to stop the drive but A.J. Bracey wasn’t able to hold on to a possible interception at the one-yard line. The Hawks then scored on a three-yard run by Devell Jones at 10:51 of the third quarter.
UNA again drove into Monmouth territory but the drive stalled at the eight-yard line and Gurley booted a 25-yard field goal to cut the Hawks lead to 21-10. The kick came with 7:23 left in the third period.
Monmouth answered with a score just one minute later as Bahar hit Quentin Parham with a 61-yard TD pass. The PAT made it 28-10 at 6:23 of the third.
After a Lopez fumble under pressure on UNA’s ensuing possession, Monmouth scored on a 21-yard pass from Bahar to Moore. Mosquera’s PAT made it 35-10 with 3:08 left in the third quarter.
Lopez threw his second TD pass of the day to Dexter Boykin from 11 yards out with just 52 seconds left in the third. Gurley’s PAT made it 35-17.
A defensive stop by the Lions forced a Monmouth punt that Jakob Terry blocked, giving UNA the ball at the Hawks’ 40-yard line. On the first play following the block, Lopez hit Jaxton Carson with a 40-yard TD pass to make it 35-24 with 13;51 left in the game.
The Hawks scored on an eight-yard TD pass from Bahar to Parham with 9:28 left in the game to extend the lead to 42-24.
Jones scored on a one-yard run with 53 seconds left to make the score 49-24.
North Alabama then drove for a touchdown in just four plays with Lopez scoring on a five yard run with just 19 seconds left. He then hit Boykin with a two-point conversion to make the final count 49-32.
UNA’s Cortez Hall recovered an onside kick and the Lions drove for another score with Andre Little throwing a seven-yard TD pass to Lopez as time expired to make the final count 49-38. The Lions were not allowed to attempt a PAT.
North Alabama close the 2019 season on November 16 at Gardner-Webb.