Leathernecks fall short in season opener

FLORENCE, Al. (NEWS3) — The Western Illinois football team began its season Thursday night with a 26-17 road loss at North Alabama.

The Leathernecks started slow but eventually got things going in the second quarter. Deontez Thompson got Western on the board with a 9-yard touchdown run, and Herschel Blakenship scored off a blocked punt.

Nathan Erickson made a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter to cap WIU’s scoring.

Western’s offense struggled for the most part, especially on third down. The Leathernecks went 0-for-6 in third down conversions in the second half, and were 2-for-7 in the first half.

Quarterback Connor Sampson was 18-for-30 for 183 yards in his first start for the Leathernecks. He threw a crucial interception midway through the fourth quarter.

Northern Alabama quarterback Christian Lopez completed 17 of 32 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown. Lopez also rushed for a touchdown.

NAU running back Terrance Humphrey totaled 102 yards on 12 carries, highlighted by a 62-yard touchdown run late in the third.

The Leathernecks will will travel to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on Colorado State next Saturday at 3 p.m.