FLORENCE, Ala. — The University of North Alabama football team is hoping that tradition holds this Saturday at Braly Stadium as the Lions host Robert Morris University for Homecoming.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Braly Stadium, with pre-game Homecoming recognitions beginning on the field at 5:30.
UNA has won its last 15 straight Homecoming games, dating back to a loss in 2004, and no Lion team needs a win more than this 2021 squad.
After opening the season against four non-conference opponents that were ranked in the pre-season Top 25, the Lions have faced two additional tough opponents in their Big South Conference openers.
Despite their 0-6 record, the Lions have held leads in five of those games, and had second half leads in four of them.
Saturday, against a 2-2 Robert Morris team, the Lions hope to get over the hump and break into the win column.
While both UNA and RMU are playing as members of the Big South Conference this fall, this game does not count in the league standings.
The Lions six other games against Big South opponents do count in the conference standings.
Redshirt sophomore Rett Files has turned in strong performances in each of his two starts, throwing three touchdown passes in each of the last two games.
Files is one of three different quarterbacks to start for UNA through the first six games due to injuries. Jaylen Gipson started the first two games of the season, followed by Blake Dever in weeks three and four and Files the last two weekends.
Redshirt freshman Parker Driggers has played an equally prominent role, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the last two weeks.
On the defensive side, senior defensive back K.J. Smith picked off his fourth pass of the season last Saturday at North Carolina A&T. He continues to lead the Big South Conference in interceptions with four this season, and he pushed his career total to 10.
He is tied for 15th in school history in career interceptions.
Also earning headlines on the defensive side are junior safety Kyree Fields, junior linebacker Delawrence Butler and redshirt freshman linebacker Caleb Dawson.
All three have recorded more than 30 tackles this season and they are leading the way for the UNA defense.
As a team North Alabama must eliminate turnovers.
UNA has lost 12 turnovers through the first six games, and ten of those resulted in opponent touchdowns.
After struggling through the first three games, the Robert Morris offense came to life last Saturday on the Colonials' Homecoming, in a 31-24 win over Charleston Southern.
RMU quarterback George Martin finished 28-for-41 passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns in the win, hitting seven different receivers at least twice for completions.
The Colonials previous scoring high this season was 22 points in a 22-16 win over Howard.
As far as common opponents, North Carolina A&T beat Robert Morris 41-14, while the Aggies held on late to slip by UNA 38-34.
This game will be just the third all-time meeting between North Alabama and a collegiate football team from the state of Pennsylvania, and Lion fans have very fond memories of the previous two.
The first came in the semifinals of the 1985 NCAA Division II Playoffs as UNA routed Bloomsburg 34-0 to advance to the National Championship Game.
The second was a win in the Division II National Championship Game in 1993 over Indiana, Pa., 31-24.
Both of those games were played at Braly Stadium.
UNA will play back-to-back home games for the first time since 2018 when the Lions host Charleston Southern here at Braly next Saturday.
Kickoff for that game against the Buccaneers is set for 3:00 p.m.