FLORENCE — Two games remain on the schedule and North Alabama still has an outside shot at making the Division II playoffs.
But coach Bobby Wallace is not worried about the playoffs this week as the Lions (5-3) prepare to face Tarleton State (4-4) Saturday afternoon at Braly Stadium.
After back-to-back losses to Valdosta State and West Georgia, Wallace said the Lions just need to focus on getting back in the win column.
“We’re still in the (playoff) hunt, but the main thing is we just need to beat Tarleton,” Wallace said. “I know the playoffs are important, but we don’t need to be talking about them right now. We just need to try to beat Tarleton and trying to get to six wins.”
UNA moved into the top 10 in the regional rankings this week at No. 10. Only the top six teams in the region qualify for the playoffs. For the Lions to have any chance at getting into that top 6 they must win Saturday and then beat West Alabama in next Thursday’s regular season finale.
“We didn’t have a good performance last week and we’re trying to rebound this week,” defensive tackle Brian Allen said. “Hopefully we bounce back and still make a run at the playoffs.”
Tarleton State will be UNA’s second opponent this season from the Lone Star Conference. The Lions defeated Texas A&M-Kingsville on Oct. 6 and are 6-0 all-time against teams from the Lone Star Conference.
The Texans lost 35-23 to Texas A&M-Kingsville two weeks ago before bouncing back with a 45-20 victory over Incarnate Word last week.
Tarleton State features a balanced offense that averages 31.6 points per game. Running back Vaughn Smith has rushed for 616 yards, while quarterbacks Aaron Doyle and Jake Fenske have combined for over 2,000 yards passing and 16 touchdowns.
“They are a good football team,” Wallace said.
“They are in the top three or four in every statistic there is in their
conference. Their quarterback got hurt two weeks ago and their backup threw five touchdown passes Saturday.”
The Texans do give up 27.2 points per game. They do have an All-America candidate in senior defensive end Rufus Johnson, who leads the team with 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
Wallace said Tarleton State’s defense will be very difficult to run against.
“They are going to be in an eight-man front and try to stop the run,” he said. “We’ve faced eight men in the box, but they are more of a true eight-man front, which is very difficult to run against. We have to find a way to run on them and make some throws and catches when they’re in that eight-man front.”
“They are 4-4, beat they have lost several close games. We definitely will have our hands full against them.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.