UWA Tigers snap 15-game losing
streak against North Alabama
FIGHTING HARD – UWA's Demarcus Blount picks up extra yardage after a pass reception against the UNA defense. The Tigers beat North Alabama for the first time since 1987. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
Nov. 17, 2002
LIVINGSTON, Ala. The football season came to a close for the University of West Alabama here on Saturday, but the Tigers finished with a bang.
For the first time in 15 years, West Alabama came away with a victory over North Alabama as the Tigers defeated the Lions 31-24. With the win, West Alabama finishes the season with a record of 5-6 (3-6 Gulf South Conference).
The game did not go West Alabama's way in the early going, however, as the Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Travis Johnston hit a 33-yard field goal to finish off a 10-play, 61 yard drive for North Alabama.
The Tigers fumbled the ball on their next possession to give the Lions the ball at the UWA 49. Six plays later, quarterback Will Hall ran eight yards and then pitched to DeMarcus Blount who went the final six yards for a touchdown. The PAT made the score 10-0.
West Alabama was finally able to get on the board with a drive filled with records. Gerald Gales brought in a reception during the drive to Matt Carman's UWA record for single-season receptions. Later in the drive quarterback Brett Gilliland tied Marty Washington's UWA record for most passing yards in a season. Presley Gilmore scored from seven yards out to make the score 10-7 with 7:30 left in the half.
An interception by Donte Oden at the UNA 20 set up another score for West Alabama. On the possession, Gilliland was able to set the record for passing yards in a season with a seven-yard pass to Gales. Ben Thoma hit a 26-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 after the Tiger offense stalled.
The Tigers were able to take the lead with 55 seconds left in the half. UWA drove 71 yards in just 1:36 as Gales caught a pass from Gilliland and made a few great moves to get in the endzone on a 13-yard touchdown reception. The PAT by Thoma made the score 17-10.
The Lions were able to tie the game with 7:34 left in the third quarter. Hall went back to pass and avoided a heavy Tiger rush. After running around in the backfield, Hall hit Patrick Wilson, who had slipped behind the UWA defense. Wilson was able to stroll into the endzone for a 70-yard touchdown to make the score 17-17.
West Alabama opened the fourth quarter with a drive to take the lead. The Tigers drove 60 yards on six plays to score another touchdown. Gilliland scored on a two-yard run to give the Tigers a 24-17 lead.
The Tigers used a mistake by UNA to stretch the lead to 31-17. The Lions dropped a punt and West Alabama recovered by Bobby Seiler on the UNA 27. On the next play from scrimmage, Gilliland hit Kyle Henderson for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 9:46 left in the game.
The Lions stormed back to make the game interesting in the final minutes. North Alabama used West Alabama penalties and a 29-yard pass to Marcus Lewis to move down the field. Randy Vickers scored on a one-yard run with 1:04 left to make the score 31-24.
North Alabama also recovered the onside kick. After two incomplete passes, Matt Lavender picked off a pass at the UWA 32 to secure the win for the Tigers.
The win drops North Alabama to 4-7 on the season. UWA was able to end a three-game losing streak with the victory.