Despite trailing by 11 points in the fourth quarter on the road, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions found a way to overcome adversity by scoring 18 unanswered points for a 34-27 overtime victory over the Jackson State University Tigers at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in its first conference game of the year. As a result, the Tigers have now lost eight straight games while UAPB improves to 2-2 on the season.
“What a victory,” said UABP head coach Monte Coleman. “Hard fought game on both sides; we had it this evening.”
In the first quarter, UAPB defensive tackle Nick Williams forced a fumble which was recovered by the Golden Lions. On the ensuing drive, UAPB running back Keshawn Williams blasted through the line and used his speed to scamper 14 yards past Tigers defenders and into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game to give UAPB a 7-0 lead. Minutes later, JSU’s quarterback Brent Lyles threw a 75-yard touchdown pass that was nullified due to an illegal block in the back. However, on the same drive, Lyles responded with a 17-yard touchdown run to even things up at 7 apiece.
Jackson State (0-4, 0-1 SWAC) added a field goal in the early part of the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead, but UAPB would answer in dramatic fashion. Following a brilliant punt from Jamie Gillan which pinned JSU deep in their own territory, true freshman linebacker Kolby Watts forced Tigers quarterback Lyles out of the back of the end zone for a safety, cutting Jackson State’s lead to just one point. On the ensuing kickoff, UAPB’s Paris Mack took it all the way inside the Tigers’ five yard line, giving the Golden Lions (2-2, 1-0 SWAC) a perfect opportunity to take a halftime lead. That’s when UAPB quarterback Brandon Duncan threw a back shoulder fade to Robert Simms III who leaped over a JSU defender to make a sensational catch, giving the Golden Lions a 16-10 lead after a successful extra point. However, Tigers running back Jordan Johnson answered right back with a 60-yard touchdown to give Jackson State a 17-16 lead going into the half after the extra point.
The Tigers added a field goal to open up the third quarter, giving them a 20-16 advantage. 15 seconds later, Duncan threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Jackson State defensive back Dario Robinson as he took it to the house, giving JSU its biggest lead of the game, 27-16 over UAPB. Both teams then traded possession as UAPB eventually attempted a 50-yard field goal to cut the deficit to eight, but the attempt was short. On the next play, linebacker Kevin Agee forced a fumble which was recovered by Golden Lions defensive tackle Johnny Daniels.
“I told my team don’t give up,” said Coach Coleman. “Keep making plays, keep fighting, and don’t give up.”
UAPB trailed by 11 points heading into the fourth quarter on the road, but the forced turnover sparked just enough momentum to give the Golden Lions the boost that it needed. Deep in Jackson State territory, Backup quarterback LeEar Patterson rolled right and quickly rushed into the end zone for a touchdown. UABP then decided to go for two to cut the deficit to three points when Patterson found McNeal in the end zone for the conversion which brought the score to 27-24 in favor of the Tigers. After both teams traded possession yet again, the Golden Lions defense made one huge stop to give its offense one last chance to either tie with a field goal or take the lead on the road with a touchdown.
The two-minute drill was in full effect. Patterson led his team all the way deep into Tigers territory before getting tackled to the ground by Deion Pope. Patterson was slow to get up, so Duncan came back in the game for UAPB on a crucial third down. Duncan took the ensuing snap, stepped into the pocket and rifled an incomplete pass to the left side of the field. However, a flag was thrown on the field due to pass interference as UAPB received a fresh set of downs. Then Patterson came back into close out the game.
On fourth down, with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, it came down to one last chance as the Golden Lions sent the special teams unit on the field. UAPB field goal kicker Gillan would either be a hero or be remembered for missing a potential game-tying kick in an exciting conference game. UAPB snapped the ball and the left-footed Gillan calmly drained the 32-yard field goal to tie the game up at 27-27 to force overtime.
When asked if Coach Coleman had any doubts about the kick, he firmly responded.
“I had no doubt at all that Jamie would hit that field goal,” said Coach Coleman. “Jamie is a great punter and a great kicker. I had no doubt at all.”
Jackson State won the toss in overtime and elected to play defense first. UAPB quickly found daylight as Patterson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run that would prove to be the game-winner.
As a team, the Golden Lions earned 16 first downs and rushed for a total of 157 yards and had four punts inside its opponent’s 20-yard line. UAPB held the ball for a total of 45:05 while Jackson State possessed the ball for 44:58. Williams finished with a team-high 75 yards rushing while Patterson threw for a team-high 66 yards and also rushed for a game-high two touchdowns.
The Golden Lions will face Alabama A&M University on Saturday, September 30 in Southwestern Athletic Conference action. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. in Huntsville, Ala.
Courtesy: UAPB Athletics