By Jeff McIntyre
TimesDaily Assistant Sports Editor
FLORENCE — A barrage of big plays late in the third quarter proved to be the spark No. 4 North Alabama needed to put away pesky Henderson State in Saturday night’s season opener.
Lucas Darr’s pass interception and a blocked punt by Jusmon Rivers led to two quick touchdowns as the Lions pulled away for a 27-10 victory in front of a crowd of 10,521 at Braly Stadium.
The Lions (1-0) had opened a quick 13-0 lead in the second quarter, only to see Henderson State (1-1) cut the lead to 13-10 at halftime. UNA’s offense finally got back on track after Darr’s interception and the defense completely shut down the Reddies in the second half.
New starting quarterback Lee Chapple threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing two interceptions. Junior wide receiver Jarmon Fortson had six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown in his UNA debut.