Pulling a win out on the road against Delta State put a big smile on North Alabama coach Bobby Wallace’s face following the Lions’ 20-12 victory Saturday night.
The win marked a successful start to the Gulf South Conference race as the Lions (3-1, 1-0) won their second straight game.
As happy as Wallace was with the win, he understands his team has a long way to go before it can think about winning the conference championship.
“Winning on the road in our conference is tough, so it’s a big win,” Wallace said. “But we know it’s going to get tougher. Delta State is going through a transition, so we know we’ll likely see tougher games down the road.”
The Lions turn their attention to a homecoming game against Shorter. While Shorter will not be an official member of the GSC until 2013, its games against GSC schools are considered conference games this season.
The first order of business for Wallace and the coaching staff is to evaluate their quarterbacks. Junior Chris Alexander has started all four games but was ineffective against the Statesmen. Alexander completed 4 of 12 passes for 11 yards and was intercepted twice before being pulled in favor of freshman Luke Wingo in the third quarter.
UNA finally got its offense going when Lamonte Thompson broke a 79-yard touchdown run to put UNA up 13-9. Wingo then led the Lions on another scoring drive, although he fumbled near the goal line. Taylor Carney recovered for a UNA touchdown.
Wallace said he made the decision to go with Wingo in the third quarter.
“All I saw from a head coaching standpoint was that the ball was being thrown out of bounds and you can’t catch those,” he said. “We came out in the second half knowing we had to throw the football and we had two sideline routes with guys open and we threw it out of bounds. We had guys open a lot and just couldn’t get it to them.”
Wallace said he wasn’t ready to make a decision on changing quarterbacks until after watching the film.
“I’ll look at the film and do the process the right way,” he said. “We’ll talk as a staff to find out what the problems are and go from there.
“Luke did a good job in the second half. He handles himself well. He’s heady and you can tell he grew up in a football family. I know Chris is disappointed and he’ll bounce back.”
Offensive guard Blake Ray said the offense has confidence in both quarterbacks.
“All of our quarterbacks are capable,” Ray said. “I don’t think Chris has lost his confidence. He has done a great job as a leader for us. But it doesn’t matter which one is out there because we’re confident they both can get the job done.”
UNA played well defensively against the Statesmen. It allowed only 98 yards passing and forced two turnovers, including an interception by Delvin Ervin that sealed the win.
“A lot of people doubted us this year, but this team is coming together,” Carney said. “This was a great win for us and it’s only the beginning.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.
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