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Shepherd leads Kennesaw State to 28-24 comeback at UNA

Xavier Shepherd scored on a 2-yard run as Kennesaw St drove 70 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining to defeat UNA.
Credit: fox 54

FLORENCE, Ala. — North Alabama took the lead on a field goal with 3:39 left in the game but couldn't hold it as fifth ranked Kennesaw State rallied for a 28-24 win over the Lions at Braly Stadium.

UNA jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Owls but KSU was able to tie the game at the half.

The Owls then led 21-14 after three quarters before UNA tied the game with 11:41 remaining in the game.

UNA's 24-21 lead came in the form of a 29-yard Sam Contorno field goal, but the Owls were able to drive 70 yards in eight plays to score the winning touchdown with 56 seconds left.

North Alabama is now 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the Big South Conference. Kennesaw State improved to 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big South.

UNA outgained Kennesaw State 330 to 327 but KSU quarterback Xavier Shepherd rushed for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth. North Alabama quarterback Blake Dever was 21-of-32 passing for 249 yards and three touchdowns.

North Alabama got on the scoreboard first as Dever dropped a swing pass to Cortez Hall around the right end and he raced 69 yards to the end zone. Grayson Easterling added the PAT to give UNA a 7-0 lead at 3:27 of the first quarter.

The Lions extended it to 14-0 early in the second quarter when Dever hit Corson Swan with a two-yard touchdown pass with 11:37 left in the period. Easterling added the PAT.

Kennesaw State finally got on the scoreboard with 5:06 remaining in the half on a two-yard dive by Xavier Shepherd. Nathan Robertson added the PAT to make it 14-7.

After Dever was temporarily knocked out of the game due to an injury, Rett Files was picked off and the Owls drove to tie the game. Shepherd hit Caleb O'Neal with a 27-yard touchdown pass with just 54 seconds left in the half to make it 14-14.

UNA stopped a Kennesaw State drive at the UNA two-yard line when Wallace Cowins recovered a fumble with 7:58 to play in the third.

Late in the third quarter, the UNA defense stopped the Owls at the Lions' seven-yard line, forcing a field goal attempt. But a Lion defender jumped offside, giving KSU a first down. The Owls scored two plays later on a three-yard Shepherd run to take a 21-14 lead with 2:20 left in the period.

North Alabama tied it at 21-21 with 11:41 remaining in the game on a 30-yard TD pass from Dever to Takairee Kenebrew. Easterling added the PAT.

UNA took the lead with 3:39 to play on Contorno's 29-yard field goal and the Owls then drove for the winning score, with Shepherd taking it in from two yards out for his third rushing touchdown of the day with 56 seconds left.

North Alabama closes its season on November 20 at Hampton.