JONESBORO, Ark. — With several key players sidelined, including a handful of starters, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions went into battle against defending Sun Belt Conference champions Arkansas State a bit shorthanded. It made for a very long, hot night as UAPB fell 62-11 at Liberty Bank Stadium.
A-State running back Michael Gordon broke off a 91-yard touchdown run and the Red Wolves had four different rushers with over 100 yards.avid Oku led the Red Wolves with 124 yards and two touchdowns. Sirgregory Thornton had 112 yards and two touchdowns. Fredi Knighten also scored two touchdowns and finished with 101 yards. Gordon had just four carries, but ended with 102 yards for Arkansas State, which won its ninth consecutive game, dating back to the 2012 season.
The Red Wolves piled up 672 yards of total offense, 509 rushing. Meanwhile, the Golden Lions, who averaged close to 400 total yards in 2012. Was held to just 173 total yards.
“Arkansas State is a very good football team. They are well coached and they did a lot of good things out there,” said UAPB head coach Monte Coleman. “We didn’t execute like we did in practice. Even being without some of the guys we needed, we just didn’t execute.”
“We have to be ready and we didn’t do it. We can’t look over anybody. We can’t under judge anybody and we can’t expect folks to have pity on us because we don’t have all of our guys playing. It’s the game of football and when you’re down, you kick’m and that’s what they did.”
“The thing we have to do is go back and rebuild. We have to play harder than what we really played in this particular ballgame,” Coleman continued. “This is just one game. It’s not the end of the season, it’s not even a conference game. The thing we have to do is go back and play hard and practice hard getting for McNeese State.”
Although much of the evening was a nightmare for the Golden Lions, there were some bright spots to build on. “We actually had some guys that actually played well. It didn’t look like it, but we actually had some guys that played well,” Coleman pointed out. “There were several guys that normally wouldn’t have played a certain position played and played well.”
“Julian Morgan came in, he’s an undersized linebacker, we had to put him at the defensive end position and he actually played well. Morgan finished the evening with four tackles (3 solos), a tackle for loss and a forced fumble that was returned for the only touchdown of the night for UAPB.
The Lions also hit the road without a punter or placekicker, but Tyler Strickland stepped into that role well. “Tyler Strickland came in and kicked the ball extremely well,” said Coleman. “He punted the ball well, he kicked the ball well, they didn’t have an opportunity to get a return because he kicked the ball out of the endzone. Then he came in and bailed us out punting the football. Strickland averaged 41.6 yards on 10 punts with three over 50 yards. He also hit a 39-yard fieldgoal that banged in off of the uprights.
There was one more bright spot for the Golden Lions’ head coach. Coach Coleman had an opportunity to speak with son Kyle leading up to Saturday’s game. However, during the postgame, the two met on the field in a moment caught by the ESPN3 cameras. “I gave him a hug and a kiss, told him I love him and that I didn’t have any money for him,” Coleman said with a chuckle. “I told him that I hope he has a great season.”
The Golden Lions head to Lake Charles, La. next Saturday to face McNeese State at Cowboy Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Courtesy: UAPB Sports Information
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