FLORENCE, Ala. – The seventh-seeded Newberry Wolves scored on the game’s opening play, but the second-seeded North Alabama Lions roared back, as the Wolves’ season came to an end with a 50-7 loss in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at Braly Municipal Stadium on Saturday.
Newberry’s season ends at 7-5 overall, as the Wolves were making their second playoff appearance in the last three seasons. North Alabama advances to the second round of the playoffs with a 9-2 record.
North Alabama’s offense put up 478 yards of offense, thanks in large part to 322 passing yards on 13-of-16 completions by Luke Wingo.
Newberry still managed a season-best five sacks, including 1.5 sacks each from Josh Parker and Brett Borders. The Wolves had a total of 10 tackles for loss, with Taylor McDonnell making 3.5 tackles for loss. McDonnell and Arnez Gray tied for the team lead with eight tackles each.
Newberry had 279 yards of offense, averaging 3.9 yards per play, but was hampered by 11 penalties resulting in 102 yards lost.
Newberry suffered from poor field position throughout the game, as the average start was at the Wolves’ own 26-yard line.
The offense ran nine plays in UNA territory the whole day.
Romelo Doctor was the Wolves’ leading rusher with 59 yards on 18 carries. He also had five receptions for 32 yards.
Doctor finishes the season with 1,235 rushing yards, which is the second-highest single-season total in 102 years of Newberry football.
Raleigh Yeldell completed 11-of-28 passes for 50 yards with three interceptions. He also had 13 carries for 53 yards with a fumble lost.
Kyle Clark punted nine times for an average of 40.7 yards per punt with a long of 59 yards.
Jalen Hunter kept the Wolves within striking distance as he blocked two consecutive PAT attempts.
The Wolves jumped out to an early lead on an astounding trick play. Wide receiver Cole Watson passed to Jalen Cook, who held off multiple Lion defenders for a 63-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.
UNA responded with a three-play scoring drive, tying the game at 7-all on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Luke Wingo to Jaylan Jackson just 1:34 into the contest.
The Lions took the lead after a deep Newberry defensive stop. Kevin Henke hit a 43-yard field goal to put UNA up 10-7 with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
UNA’s defense forced multiple lost yardage plays and the Lions capitalized on the good field position with a short touchdown carry by backup quarterback Jacob Tucker. The lead went to 16-7 for the hosts with 13:37 left in the second quarter after Jalen Hunter blocked the PAT.
The Lions hit another long touchdown pass late in the first half, with Wingo finding Dre Hall for a 47 yard score. Hunter blocked the PAT for the second time on the day to put the score at 22-7 with 2:16 remaining in the first half.
Newberry was still only two scores behind at the half despite struggling to get anything going from poor field position.
UNA roared out of the locker room, taking only 32 seconds off the clock on a 3-play scoring drive capped by a 51-yard touchdown pass from Wingo to Hall for a 29-7 lead.
After a tipped ball interception near midfield, Lamonte Thompson ended a drive for the hosts with a 2-yard touchdown carry, pushing the advantage to 36-7 with 11:22 left in the third quarter.
Another Lions’ third quarter touchdown came after an interception, with Wingo finding Treyon Tate from six yards out, putting UNA up 43-7 with 1:21 left in the third.
Backup quarterback Tucker punched in another touchdown with 5:26 to go, giving the Lions the final 50-7 lead.
This release was provided by Newberry College.