FLORENCE, Ala. — Returning to Florence after their road loss at Chattanooga last week, North Alabama welcomed Tarleton State. The visiting Texans showed up and, after an explosive second half, soured UNA’s homecoming festivities with a 43-28 win.
The game started strangely, as UNA got three penalties on the first two plays of the game - yes, the kickoff and the first play from scrimmage - setting up Tarleton with field position in Lion territory. They get a field goal to get out to a three-nothing lead.
UNA responds on their first play from scrimmage with a 75-yard rushing touchdown by Shunderrick Powell and the Lions go up 7-3 after the successful point after try. Powell got a block to the right of the line and immediately burst down the sideline.
Tarleton gets three points on their next drive to make it a one-point game but UNA gets down the field in part due to Takairee Kinnebrew’s moves on a 2nd-and-eight passing play. He catches Noah Walters’ pass across the middle, gets out of one tackle, jukes out two others to go 15 yards and put the Lions in the red zone. UNA goes to Powell on the next two plays, the latter of which he’d score on. He would play hopscotch at the two-yard line to get out of a tackle and into the endzone for his second touchdown of the game to make it a 14-6 game with just about three minutes to go in the opening quarter. He’d have eight touches for 198 yards in the first half.
On their 1st drive of the second quarter the Texans string together some forward progress. Wide receiver Jaden Smith made a great catch on third down where he met the ball at its high point and brought it down over the defender for what was a 37-yard gain. The Texans’ offense was finally back in the in the zone, searching for its first touchdown, but they’d have to wait a little longer as on second-and-goal from the seven, Beau Allen throws right to Antwoine Ware but UNA’s right corner Justin Douglas picked it off with a diving catch. His goal line grab saves a touchdown, but the Lions can’t reward him with points of their own as they go on a three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
The Texans are back in the red zone two drives later and Allen wised up. He aired a pass high and deep to Gabe Douglas for a 21-yard touchdown. It was just one of two catches he’d make all day.
With 2:15 remaining in the half, the Texans take the their first lead via touchdown. Jaden Smith makes a catch in the flat before using the hesitation move to break free and score the 27-yard tuddy. ShunDerrick Powell’s breakthrough rush for 55 yards on the next drive would regain the lead for UNA, but they’d lose it for good when Tarleton scores on their next three possessions.
A garbage time touchdown plus an odd safety in the fourth quarter would finish the scoring output.
Tarleton State advances to 3-1 on the year, while UNA drops to 1-3. Both schools’ next game is their league opener. Next week, Tarleton State is at Southern Utah in WAC play, while after a bye week, UNA opens ASUN action at Kennesaw State. They’re back in the state of Alabama October 15 when they play Jacksonville State at Toyota Field in Madison for the Rocket City Football Classic.