WOU Shocks Nation With Upset Over North Alabama
The Wolves' victory was led by a stout defense and an offense that came through in the fourth quarter.
The Wolves' victory was led by a stout defense and an offense that came through in the fourth quarter.

Monday, October 12, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. – With a 24-22 home victory over American Football Coaches Association Division II No. 6-ranked and previously unbeaten North Alabama, the Western Oregon football team was named the GNAC Red Lion Team of the Week.

“We are very thankful to the administration to allow us to have a game like this against North Alabama,” said head football coach Arne Ferguson. “They are a playoff team every year. We definitely had our hands full.”

On a rainy afternoon, the Wolves’ defense forced five turnovers, including a game-clinching interception on UNA’s final drive. The offense was clutch when it needed to be, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to reclaim their first-half lead.

Senior linebacker Jonathan Breland had two interceptions in the game, including the game-winning interception with less that 30 seconds on the clock and the defense backed up into its own territory. Breland also added a forced fumble, four tackles and one tackle for loss on his way to GNAC Defensive Player of the Week.

“Our defensive players were very in tune with our game plan,” said Ferguson. “We’ve never seen anyone on film come close to slowing them down.”

Sophomore quarterback Phillip Fenumia’i came off the bench for the Wolves to spark the offense. Fenumia’i ran for a touchdown from 13 yards out with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter to take a 17-16 lead. He followed that up with an eight-yard touchdown throw to Andi Avgi with 4:35 left in the game to extend the lead to 24-16.

“The ability of Fenumia’i to handle the pressure was pretty amazing and needed for our team to be successful,” said Ferguson. “He came in poised and confident with limited reps this year at quarterback.”

The Wolves’ defense allowed a 16-yard touchdown on fourth and goal with 1:28 on the clock, but stood strong on a two-point conversion attempt by North Alabama. After UNA’s successful onside kick, the Wolves’ defense was once again put to the test. Breland’s second interception sealed the game.

Western Oregon got off to a quick start, forcing turnovers on North Alabama’s first three drives. Kicker Jesse Correa put the Wolves on the board with a 39-yard field goal. On a 32-yard field goal attempt later in the first quarter, wide receiver and holder Paul Revis took the snap on a fake attempt. Rolling to his right, Revis threw the ball just before stepping out of bounds, into the hands of defensive lineman Devin Williams for the 15-yard score.

The Wolves allowed 16-straight points through the second and third quarters, but answered back in the fourth for the victory.

Western Oregon improved its record to 3-3 overall. The Wolves next host Central Washington in the first of four-straight conference games. They will be at home for four of their remaining five games.

With the loss, North Alabama tumbled from No. 6 to No. 17 in the AFCA Top-25 Poll.