SEARCY - North Alabama, ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division II, used outstanding defense and special teams play to earn a 38-0 victory over Harding on Saturday in Gulf South Conference action at First Security Stadium.
North Alabama (5-0, 4-0) shut out Harding for the second straight season.
Four of North Alabama's five touchdowns came following a Harding turnover or a blocked kick by the Lion special teams.
With North Alabama ahead 3-0, Lion Quinton Andrews blocked a Micah Canterbury field goal attempt. The ensuing UNA drive lasted eight plays and covered 62 yards with Marcus Sims scoring from a yard out to give North Alabama a 10-0 advantage.
In the second quarter, Brandon Pickett blocked a Canterbury punt, and one play later UNA quarterback
Lion Brandon Pickett blocked a Micah Canterbury field goal attempt. On the next play, UNA quarterback Harrison Beck connected with Mico McSwain on a 33-yard touchdown pass and a 17-0 North Alabama lead.
UNA's third touchdown followed an interception by Jason Tate. Two plays later, Beck hit Preston Parker with a 25-yard scoring strike to extend the lead to 24-0.
Harding's Jeremy Holt fumbled at the eight-yard line on the Bisons' first play from scrimmage in the second half. UNA's Courtney Harris scooped up the loose ball and scored to make it 31-0.
North Alabama's final touchdown came on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Beck to T.J. Porter with 13:41 left in the game.
Harding (2-3, 0-2), playing its second straight top-10 opponent, had a season-low 198 yards of total offense. Sophomore Kale Gelles was the Bisons' top offensive threat. He led the team with 27 rushing yards on five carries and added three receptions for a team-high 60 yards.
Defensively, senior Josh Jones was again a bright spot for the Bisons. Josh had a team-high 11 tackles and added two pass breakups and his third interception of the season. Senior Keenan Kitchen had 2.0 tackles for loss.
Harding goes on the road for the next two weeks, playing games against Southern Arkansas next Saturday and Ouachita Baptist on Oct. 10.