The University of North Alabama Lions outscored the Statesmen 13-3 in the second half to win the game 20-12 in Gulf South Conference action. The Statesmen fell to 1-2 with an 0-1 mark in the GSC, while North Alabama improved to 3-1 with a 1-0 mark in the conference.
DSU outgained North Alabama in total yards 336-236, but the Statesmen could only produce one touchdown. The Statesmen marched into the red zone twice and kicked two field goals. The Lions marched into the red zone twice and scored two touchdowns. Delta State also committed nine penalties for 76 yards, while North Alabama committed just three penalties for 10 yards.
“When you get down inside the red zone, things tighten up,” Delta State head football coach Jamey Chadwell said. “That’s when you have to have your execution and people that are mentally focused doing the right thing and we broke down. That’s when you have to be great and we’re not there.
“We’ve got too many guys right now that think it’s just about running around and not doing the little things to be successful. When you’re playing good teams, you can’t do those things or you’ll get beat.”
In the first half, the offense staggered for both teams and the end zone seemed to be a hard place to reach. Both teams moved the ball a little bit, but the game was scoreless after the first quarter. With 14:50 left in the second quarter, the Statesmen drew first blood as quarterback Trevor Wooden marched on a 33-yard run for a touchdown. The extra point kick from Andrew Jones deflected off the upright and the Statesmen had a 6-0 lead. The Lions battled right back as the Lions marched on a 5-play, 60 drive that was keyed by a 15-yard touchdown run with 12:21 left on the clock in the first half. The extra point kick from Michael Schuster split the uprights, and North Alabama went on top 7-6. DSU's defense played tough and did a great job of holding the Lions at bay. Toward the end of the half, the Statesmen's offense was able to move the ball as Justin McArthur and Rondreas Truesdale racked up on some big yards on the ground.
Toward the end of the half, DSU got down to the UNA 1-yard line, but a false start penalty moved DSU back to the 6-yard line.
With the seconds ticking off the clock, Jones split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal to put the Statesmen on top 9-7 going into the lockerroom at halftime.
The Lions jumped back on top as Lamonte Thompson marched on a 79-yard touchdown with 2:07 left in the third quarter. The point-after-kick attempt was no good, but North Alabama led 13-9, which ended up being the score going into the final quarter.
Delta State didn't give up as McArthur marched on an 18-yard run to put the Statesmen at the Lions' 23-yard line. After a run by Wooden, the Statesmen were able to get down to the Lions' 14-yard line to force a fourth-and-one situation. On the next play, the Statesmen handed the ball off to Richard Freelon who was able to get the extra yard for the first down. Delta State was able to get down to the North Alabama 6-yard line, but faced a fourth down-and-three. Delta State elected to go for the first down, but a five yard delay of game penalty pushed the Statesmen back to the 11-yard line. The penalty forced DSU to send Jones out for the 28-yard attempt. Jones' kick was good and the Statesmen cut the Lions' lead to 13-12 with 10:10 left in the game.
The Lions moved the ball well again on offense as Jason Smith and Luke Wingo racked up some big yardage on the ground. With 6:17 left in the game, Wingo tried to score a touchdown but fumbled the ball. The fumble didn't hurt the Lions, however, as Taylor Carney recovered it in the end zone for a TD. The extra point kick from Schuster was good, and the Lions increased their lead to 20-12.
The Lions' defense was able to hold as the Statesmen couldn't produce any more points.
For DSU on offense, McArthur led the way with 114 rushing yards on 19 carries. Trevor Wooden completed just 12-of-23 passes for 98 yards with an interception and rushed for just 50 yards with a score on 13 carries. Truesdale did a good job running the ball as he racked up 45 yards on just six carries, while Kevin Jackson led DSU’s receivers with five catches for 62 yards.
Jones did a good job punting for DSU as pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line three times.
On defense for DSU, Dandrick Jackson led the Statesmen with seven tackles and two interceptions, followed by Marvin Clayton with six tackles including a tackle-for-loss and Ixavier Triplett with five tackles, a forced fumble and a pass break-up.
For North Alabama, Thompson led the Lions with 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
On defense for the Lions, Rod Woodson spearheaded the defense with 13 tackles, followed by Caleb Massey with 11 tackles.
The Statesmen will have a short rest as they return to the football field on Thursday when they host Abilene Christian University in a 6:30 p.m. contest.