LIVINGSTON, Ala. -- Tevin Moore scored on a 15-yard run with 12 seconds left to lift 11th-ranked West Alabama to a 36-32 season-opening win over Lenoir-Rhyne (0-1) Thursday at Tiger Stadium.
After building an 11-point lead in the first half and a 10-point advantage early in the fourth quarter, the Tigers (1-0) almost let the home-opener get away.
"In season-opening games a lot of times you have to find a way to win," UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. "We work on last minute drives every day to put our guys in a position to do that. There wasn't any panic in our guys."
Trailing 29-19, Lenoir-Rhyne scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, both on 53-yard passes from Grayson Willingham. The first one was to Dareke Young with 2:06 left to play and the second to T.J. Smith with 1:56 left in the game. Smith's catch came on the first play after the Bears recovered an onside kick.
Moore's game-winner capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive orchestrated by Tiger quarterback Harry Satterwhite in a minute and 37 seconds. Satterwhite and Qua Boyd hooked up for five yards on a fouth-and-4 on the fourth play of the drive to keep UWA's hopes alive.
"It felt great," Moore said of his game-winner. "The offensive line created a big hole and I was able to just punch it in."
Satterwhite completed four passes and ran for 11 yards to set up the winning score, a running play on second-and-10 from the Lenoir-Rhyne 15.
"That was a great call and I wish I could take credit for checking to that," Satterwhite said, "but that was Coach (Don) Bailey."
Bailey gave credit to running backs coach Deon Williams for recommending the running play after seeing what the Bears were doing defensively on the final drive.
"Deon said he thought we could run it and score," Bailey said. "We had two timeouts, so it wasn't like we had to panic."
Satterwhite completed 23-of-44 passes for 256 yards and two scores. He had touchdown passes to Dominique McNealey and Tyriq Martin. McNealey's was a 4-yard slant for the Tigers first touchdown and Martin's was on a 47-yard streak down the west sideline to give UWA a 29-19 lead.
Boyd finished with 82 yards on eight receptions, followed by McNealey with five receptions for 70 yards. Christian Saulsberry had three catches for 25 yards and returned four kickoffs for 145 yards (36.3 ypr).
Tyler Rogers led West Alabama rushers with 75 yards on 16 carries, Derrick Underwood had 32 yards on five trips, including a 23-yard TD. Moore's game winner was his second touchdown of the game. He also scored on a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter.
Willingham completed 16-of-36 passes for 300 yards and two scores but was intercepted twice. Abraham Wallace picked him off after Jordan Jones pressured the Bear quarterback and Trey Elston intercepted Willingham on the game's final play.
Smith had six receptions for 118 yards to lead Lenoir-Rhyne. Ameen Stevens was the Bears' leading rusher with 34 yards on 10 carries.
Lenoir-Rhyne outgained West Alabama 484-390 and converted 11-of-22 third-down plays to just 5-of-15 for the Tigers.
"When those two things happen you usually don't win," Gilliland said. "They were a well-coach, hard-nosed team that played hard and were well prepared. I can't say enough good things about Lenoir-Rhyne."
Chase Allbaugh made field goals of 35 and 21 to round out Lenoir-Rhyne scoring, a fact that Gilliland pointed out was one of the differences in the game.
"We were about to score touchdowns in the red zone and held them to field goals twice," Gilliland said. "In a game like this that ends up being big."
Tavaris Hutchison racked up 11 tackles for West Alabama, followed by Terry Samuel with nine. Terrence Jones and Jordan Jones had eight tackles each. Jordan Jones had a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Dakota Rushing also recorded a sack. Nicarius Peterson intercepted a two-point try by LRU and returned it 40 yards.
"We had a good plan," Jordan Jones said. "(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Steve) Sisa said for us to hunt the football and we did. We don't get to hit Harry in practice, so we have to make our opportunities count during a game."
West Alabama remains at home, hosting Miles College on Thursday at 6 p.m. Lenoir-Rhyne remains on the road at North Greenville on Saturday, Sept. 8.