Last Drive Leads North Alabama Over Delta State

Lions survive scare from Delta State

Nov. 24, 2007

From North Alabama Athletics

FLORENCE, Ala. ( - After being held to less than 20 total yards in the second half, the University of North Alabama offense put together a dramatic 10-play, 55-yard scoring drive and pulled out a 20-17 win over Delta State in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.

UNA, now 10-1, will advance to the quarterfinals to face another Gulf South Conference rival, Valdosta State. Delta State ends its season at 10-2.

North Alabama had scored a field goal on its first possession of the second half to take a 13-10 lead that it held until Delta State finally took the lead at 17-13 with 5:31 to play in the game. The Statesmen defense had shutdown the Lions after the initial drive and had forced six consecutive UNA punts, including five three-and-out possessions. But starting at his own 45, Lion senior quarterback A.J. Milwee, who had been sacked four times in the game and had been under constant pressure, engineered a 10-play, game-winning drive.



Milwee hit Rocky Coleman on back-to-back passes for 21 and eight yards, then completed an out to Reggie Hubbard for eight and another out to Messing for nine. A David McCants run gave UNA a first-and-goal with 36 seconds to play at the DSU five. After two incompletions, Milwee hit Messing coming across the end zone with a five-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds to play. Kenny Spencer's PAT gave the Lions a 20-17 lead. It was Messing's 23rd career TD catch, extending his school career record.  It was also Milwee's second TD pass of the game, and extended his school-record for career touchdown passes to 44.

North Alabama had defeated Delta State 28-17 back on October 18 at Braly Stadium and the Lions avenged a quarterfinal playoff loss at home to Delta State last season in another rematch contest.

UNA finished with just 244 total yards, gaining 47 rushing and 197 passing. Delta State gained 390 yards but the UNA defense stepped up all day, forcing one turnover and recording seven sacks and eight tackles for loss.

North Alabama broke on top first with a 43-yard field goal from senior Scott Shurden. The kick, at 4:53 in the first quarter, capped a short six-play, 17-yard drive for the Lions. Delta State got the game's first touchdown at the 8:46 mark of the second period when Chad Schroeder dove over the top of the pile from one-yard out. Trey Adams PAT gave the Statesmen a 7-3 advantage and capped a 10-play, 91-yard drive.

UNA answered with a touchdown drive of its own with just two minutes left in the half as senior Reggie Hubbard pulled in a 13-yard pass from A.J. Milwee in the left corner of the end zone. Kenny Spencer's PAT gave UNA a 10-7 advantage.

The Statesmen tied the game before the half, driving 47-yards before Trey Adams kicked a 41-yard field goal with 24 seconds left.

In the second half, UNA took the opening kick and moved from its own 36 to the DSU 15 before the drive stalled. Milwee was temporarily knocked out of the game after taking a blow while recovering a fumble. Shurden came on and kicked a 32-yard field goal to give UNA a 13-10 lead.

Neither team could move the ball offensively after that until Delta State broke a 67-yard pass play when Garrett Dewitt hit Eric Marshall late in the fourth quarter. The play took the ball all the way to the UNA one-yard line and Dewitt  dove in from there for the go-ahead touchdown. Adams PAT made it 17-13 with 5:31 to play.

Michael Johnson led UNA's defense with nine tackles, while Montrell Craft had three sacks and Tim Hunt two. Delta State's defense had 15 tackles for loss on the day, led by Michael Eubanks with three.

UNA is now 24-9 all-time in the Division II playoffs and has more post-season wins that any current member of Division II. The win was UNA's 20th at home in the post-season in 25 games at Braly.

The 10th win also made UNA's Class of 2007 just the second in school history to win 10 or more games in three straight seasons. The Lions went 11-3 in 2005 and 11-1 last season. The other group to do it was the three consecutive national championship teams from 1993-95 that went 14-0, 13-1 and 14-0.