Home Local Sports Up & Away: Alvarado closes UNCP kicking career in style

Up & Away: Alvarado closes UNCP kicking career in style

Alex Alvarado lines up one of his four successful field goals during his final college game last Saturday. (Photo contributed by UNCP Football)

PEMBROKE — Alex Alvarado concluded his college football career by doing what he’s done best the past several years and etched his name into UNC Pembroke’s history book in the process. 

A graduate kicker with the Braves, Alvarado notched a career-high 16 points during UNCP’s five-overtime thriller against Concord University over the weekend.

Although the Braves came up short 58-56 in their season finale, the 2017 graduate from Richmond Senior High School was perfect on the day. 

Alvarado, a four-year starter, connected for a single-game career-high four field goals and converted all four of his extra-point attempts. 

His 16 points were part of the fourth best single-game performance in Braves program history, matching former kicker Connor Haskins (2013). Alvarado had previously scored 12 points three different times.

On Monday, Alvarado was named the Mountain East Conference’s “Special Teams Player of the Week.”

“It’s a great honor,” Alvarado said. “I know we didn’t finish the game with a win, and the most important thing is a team win, but to have individual success is a representation of the team.

“This allowed me to keep my chin high and look at what we did in a positive way. There were still successes from the game. Now I can look back and always remember this as leaving my legacy on a positive note. I’m forever grateful for that.”

Getting the Braves on the board early in the second quarter against the regionally-ranked Mountain Lions, Alvarado split the uprights for the first time from 22 yards. He added a pair of extra points following two touchdowns later in the quarter.

With the clock winding down to the half, Alvarado rang true on a 42-yard field goal as time expired to pull UNCP within a point, 21-20, at the break. 

The kick was just five yards short of his career-long kick of 47 yards, which he set his freshman season at Carson-Newman. It was also the fourth time Alvarado drilled a kick from over 40 yards in his career.

Early in the third quarter, Alvarado tied his previous single-game field goal record with a 29-yarder to give the Braves their first lead of the game, 23-21.

Before the third quarter was out, Alvarado’s right foot struck again, this time from 31 yards, setting a new record for the soon-to-be graduate. Those three points cut into Concord’s lead, 28-26.

Trailing 41-26 with less than four minutes to play, UNCP rallied to score 15 unanswered points to force overtime. Alvarado added a PAT on the first score and the Braves converted a two-point try to knot the game.

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Capping his career performance on senior day in front of family and friends, Alvarado added his final extra point following UNCP’s first overtime touchdown.

Alex Alvarado kicks off during Saturday’s 5OT game against Concord University. (Photo contributed by UNCP Football)

“It was a big game and we knew it was going to be tough facing one of the top teams in the conference,” Alvarado said. “Throughout the whole week, the team joked that it was going to be a game that would come down to a kick. But for me it wasn’t any different.

“I had a lot of mixed emotions since it was my last senior game, and I think that locked me in a lot more,” he added. “Having my family there really motivated me to play well. I was in the moment, doing my job. It wasn’t until the clock hit zero that I realized I’d played a big role. It was a very special night and I couldn’t ask to end my career any other way.”

Alvarado was quick to credit his teammates, the snapper, the holder and the protection, which allowed him to get all eight kicks off. He also said he was humbled to be able to help build and maintain momentum during key parts of the game.

When kicking for the Braves, the formula for success is simple for Alvarado. He follows the mantra of “ball, contact, head down, follow through and pick up the pin.” He’s also learned not to chase success, which can create inconsistencies, and to always trust the process.

Over his six year college career, Alvarado saw early success that was disrupted by a redshirt year and then the COVID-19 pandemic. Calling it a “blessing,” he’s been able to grow as a person on and off the field at UNCP. 

“I’ve learned so much,” Alvarado reflected. “As a freshman, I was so new to college ball and had so much learning to do on and off the field. There were lots of ups and downs, but from freshman year to grad school, I’ve matured so much.

“It’s been a great thing to experience. On the field, it’s been good to see my body grow physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve met so many lifelong friends and coaches and I’m thankful for all the memories. UNCP has really prepared for life to come and I will always cherish my time here.”

Alvarado also finished his career as UNCP’s fourth-highest points scorer in program history with 181 points. He made 32 field goals (96 points) and connected on 85 PATs in 42 games.

Averaging 4.3 points per game in his career, Alvarado had a career-high 5.8 points per game as a senior (64 total points).

Having already earned his undergraduate degree in exercise physiology, Alvarado is currently enrolled in an accelerated master’s program to earn his degree in business. He’s set to graduate next fall.

The future is bright for the former Raider, who said he’s “working toward the next level.” 

Alvarado is enjoying some recovery time, but plans to continue his kicking training later this winter with hopes of landing a pro day.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.