ITTA BENA, Miss. – Tyrin Ralph’s 77-yard punt return touchdown with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter was the difference as Arkansas-Pine Bluff survived Mississippi Valley State 24-17 at Rice-Totten Stadium.
UAPB (3-0 overall, 3-0 SWAC) moves one step closer to the SWAC Western Division title for the first time since 2012 and clinching a berth in the Cricket Wireless SWAC Football Championship Game on May 1.
The Golden Lions can win the SWAC West with a win in either of its final two regular-season home games on April 17 against Prairie View A&M or April 24 against Texas Southern, or a loss by Southern to Grambling on April 17.
After Mississippi Valley (1-2, 1-2) took an early 3-0 first-quarter lead, UAPB scored 17 second-quarter points. The first of two Skyler Perry touchdown passes went for eight yards to DeJuan Miller for a 7-3 Golden Lions lead on the first play of the second quarter.
UAPB successfully executed an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, as Kylan Herrera’s recovery led to a 48-yard scoring drive. Josh Wilkes made a leaping four-yard touchdown reception in the near corner of the end zone to give the Golden Lions a 14-3 lead with less than 13 minutes to play until halftime.
Late in the first half, Perry was on the receiving end of a pass from Miller down to the Valley 1-yard line. The drive ended with an 18-yard field goal by Zack Piwniczka with two seconds remaining to give the Golden Lions a 17-3 halftime lead.
Mississippi Valley State would make a comeback, scoring a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter, and, following an interception, a fourth-quarter touchdown run to tie the score.
Following a UAPB defensive stop, Ralph fielded the football at the Golden Lion 23, and, running to the right in front of the UAPB sideline, eluded defenders and got free around midfield, outracing the Delta Devils into the end zone for the game-winning score.
Courtesy: UAPB Athletics