By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Tuskegee nearly blew an 11-point, third quarter lead, but got a 2-yard Dennis Norfleet touchdown run with 19 seconds remaining to surprise North Alabama 35-31 in the NCAA Division II football playoffs Saturday.
Tuskegee's second round win, their first ever, moves them into the quarterfinals where they visit West Georgia Saturday in Carrolton, Ga.
In a game that close throughout, Tuskegee (10-2) erased a 17-14 deficit in the third quarter with a Kevin Lacey touchdown pass and Branden Wilson touchdown run to go up 28-17.
North Alabama followed in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and two field goals, seemingly putting the game away with 3:54 left on their final field goal to go up 31-28.
Lacey shook off an interception from earlier in the final quarter to move the Golden Tigers downfield as time ticked away. The biggest play in the drive was his 33-yard completion to Desmond Reese on third and 10 to get to the UNA two yard line. Norfleet scored the game-winner on the next play.
"That was probably the most confident pass I threw all day," Lacey said on SIAC.com. "Coach (Slater) made the call and we just had to execute. I felt a little bit of butterflies through the game, but knew I had to execute to give us a chance."
Norfleet rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns while Lacey threw for 176 yards and a TD and rushed for another score.
The win avenges a close 30-27 first round Division II playoff loss to North Alabama in 2013.
"I am just tickled to be back up here," Slater said. "It' is just great to be back in this area. I am stunned and it is unbelievable the way the game ended. My hats to our players. They played hard adn played with their hearts. I am just happy for them."