- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

North Alabama began playing college football 101 years before Florida Tech started its program but coach Bobby Wallace doesn’t think the divide is nearly so great on the field.

That was evident last season, when Florida Tech nearly upset UNA in only the Panthers’ second season of existence. The Lions escaped with a 34-31 victory when Florida Tech was unable to get off a potential game-tying field goal attempt before time expired. They host Florida Tech at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“I thought they were really good the last two years, and they have improved this year,” Wallace said. “They are a lot better on defense than they have been, and their offense is still as good as it’s been.”

After going 6-5 last year, Florida Tech is off to a 1-2 start, though Wallace said that record is a bit misleading.

The Panthers lost their opener to Newberry 31-28, with another potential game-tying field goal hitting the upright on the final play of the game. That was followed by a 28-17 loss to FCS opponent Southeastern Louisiana.

“The bottom line is we have to be prepared for them to throw 50 times or run 50 times, because they can hurt you both ways,” Wallace said.

As for the Lions, they are 2-0 thanks in part to the play of senior running back Lamonte Thompson, who has already rushed for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

With a win, Wallace would move into a tie with Hal Self as the winningest coach in program history. Self won 109 games over 21 seasons from 1949-69, while Wallace has reached 108 wins in his 14th season with the Lions.

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West Alabama at Texas A&M; Kingsville, 7 p.m.

After giving up a total of 27 points through the first three games, West Alabama’s defense will be put to the test against Texas A&M-Kingsville;, which is averaging more than 350 yards of total offense per game.

West Alabama (3-0) allowed barely 200 total yards in last week’s 13-10 victory over Miles.

Texas A&M; Kingsville (1-2) is coming off a 37-17 loss to Texas A&M-Commerce.; Jordan Thomas led Kingsville with eight receptions for 173 yards.

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Jacksonville State at Tennessee-Martin, 2 p.m.

Tennessee-Martin (1-1) has opened the season by allowing 76 points in one game (to Ole Miss), and then scoring 72 in the next (against NAIA opponent Bethel).

“So it is hard to tell where they are right now as a football team,” said JSU coach John Grass, whose team is 2-1 following last week’s 48-13 victory over Tennessee State.

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Tuskegee at Lane, 2 p.m.

Tuskegee (3-0, 0-0 SIAC) leaves the state of Alabama for the first time this season. The Golden Tigers won their first three games by a combined score of 81-27.

Lane (1-2, 0-1) gave up only seven points last week to Bethune-Cookman but still lost 7-3 after losing a 50-38 shootout the week before.

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Alabama A&M; vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 2 p.m.

Alabama A&M; (0-2, 0-1 SWAC) is looking to shore up a defense that has allowed 105 points in the first two games.

The Hornets might see improvement against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-2, 0-1), which has averaged 18.7 points per game.

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Alabama State at Mississippi Valley State, 6 p.m.

Both teams are looking for their first victory of the season after 0-3 starts. ASU has yet to score more than 14 points in a game following last week’s 34-10 loss to Grambling.

This will be the first of four games in 20 days for the Hornets, who have won the past five games in this series and 14 of the past 16.

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Miles vs. Morehouse College, 4 p.m.

After opening the season with three consecutive losses to Gulf South Conference opponents, Miles begins play in the SIAC against Morehouse (2-1), whose only loss was in triple overtime.

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