FLORENCE — Freshmen quarterback Luke Wingo entered the game at his normal time during North Alabama’s 24-21 loss to Valdosta State on Saturday night.
Wingo came into the game on the Lions’ third possession as he has in every game this season. But instead of putting starter Chris Alexander back in the game the coaching staff stuck with Wingo the rest of the way.
The Lions made one first down in their first two possessions with Alexander at quarterback. Coach Bobby Wallace, however, said the decision to play Wingo more was made this week in practice.
“That decision was 90 percent made during the week,” Wallace said. “Luke had a great week of practice and Chris did not. The only thing that would have changed it had been if Chris had come out on fire and played really well.
“We’ll evaluate this film and talk tomorrow about who will start next week, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re all a team. Chris might be better coming in on the third series than Luke, you just never know.”
Wingo finished 17 of 31 passing for 227 yards, including his first collegiate touchdown pass, a 9-yarder to Jason Smith. Wingo also had a 9-yard touchdown run that pulled UNA within three points with 3:56 remaining.
“I didn’t know I was going to play more; I figured it would be the third series and then maybe another series or two like normal,” Wingo said. “It felt good to fight back the way we did. Our receivers made some great plays and our offensive line was awesome.”
Thompson gets 100
Redshirt freshman tailback Lamonte Thompson has struggled in the last
two weeks and got off to a slow start against Valdosta State. Thompson had just 27 yards rushing on seven carries at halftime.
The second half, however, was a different story as Thompson made several big runs. The former Florence standout finished with 119 yards on 17 carries and scored UNA’s first touchdown on a 7-yard run.
It was Thompson’s second career 100-yard game. He ran for 102 yards on 21 carries in the season opener against Miles College.
UNA made a change at kicker during the second half Saturday as junior Taylor Pontius replaced Michael Schuster on the Lions’ three extra point kicks.
Schuster had missed field goal attempts of 53 and 36 yards prior to the switch. After tying a school record with five field goals against Kentucky Christian in the third game of the season, Schuster has now gone four games without a field goal. Pontius has been handling kickoffs since the Kentucky Christian game and had touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs Saturday in addition to making all three extra points.
For the first time this season the UNA defense did not get a turnover in Saturday’s loss to Valdosta State.
The Lions entered the game ranked sixth nationally with 12 interceptions and ranked 10th nationally in turnovers gained with 18.
After recording six sacks in its first six games, UNA recorded 4.0 sacks against Valdosta State.
Dimitri Orr, Richie Mata’afa, and Brian Barnett each recorded one sack, while Jeremiah Booth and Delvin Ervin each had half a sack.
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com.