BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A record-setting 95-yard touchdown pass from Arkansas-Pine Bluff quarterback Benjamin Anderson to Willie Young with two minutes left in regulation forced overtime, as the Lions came from two touchdowns behind to beat Jackson State 24-21 in the Toyota SWAC championship game at Legion Field. It was the first SWAC title for UAPB (10-2) since 1966.
Tyler Strickland’s 26-yard field goal in overtime capped off 17 unanswered points for UAPB, who trailed 21-7 in the first half.. Jackson State (7-5) had the ball first in overtime but Ryan Deising’s 43-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Jackson State dominated the first half, out-gaining the Lions 270-78, but led only 21-14 at halftime. Clayton Moore threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Rico Richardson and rushed for another score, but his fumble at the end of the first half kept things close.
After Moore was hit from behind by linebacker Xavier Lofton, linebacker Bill Ross scooped up the fumble and raced 73 yards for a touchdown with four seconds left in the half. Ross’ touchdown tied a UAPB record for longest fumble return for a touchdown.
Early on, it looked like the Tigers were going to run away with the game. JSU posted their first score on a 40-yard touchdown strike from Moore to Rico Richardson with 9:16 left in the first quarter. Then five minutes later, Rakeen Sims broke loose for a 37-yard touchdown run to give JSU a 14-0.
UAPB cut the lead in half on a 1-yard plunge on the first play of the second quarter. But, Moore gave the Tigers a 14-point lead with a 1-yard run of his own with 2:29 left in the half.
Anderson claimed Offensive Most Valuable Player honors, while Ross took Defensive Player of the Game. Anderson connected on 13-of-25 passes for 225 yards and the 95-yard TD pass. He also rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown. Ross had 10 tackles (7 solo), a tackle for loss and the game-changing fumble return.
– Courtesy: SWAC.org