Much of the discussion in the immediate aftermath of Alcorn State’s 39-38 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a game it trailed by 19 points in the second half centered around a pair of what seemed to be peculiar decisions by Golden Lions coach Doc Gamble.
It appeared that Arkansas-Pine Bluff missed the opportunities to add at least five points to its tally in a game it lost by a single points thanks to failures to convert on a pair of two-point conversion attempts and passing up a short field goal in the fourth quarter.
Why didn’t Arkansas-Pine Bluff trust its kicker in situations where points would have been a given?
Gamble explained Monday that the team was without reliable placekicker Zack Piwniczka for the second half due to injury.
“Zach got knocked out of the game and it hurt us,” Gamble said, who reiterated that not having an available kicker was the motivation behind the late-game strategy.
The only other player on the roster who could possibly kick was punter Josh Sanchez. But he, said Gamble, wasn’t a reliable option.
“We have to put our players in a position to be successful. If somebody wanted us to run Zack out there and kick the PAT or field goal … if you ever watch one of our practices, Zack is one for 50 on field goals,” the coach said. “So, I couldn’t do him like that.”
The injury forced Gamble to look elsewhere to fill the role in an emergency role. Tryouts were held on campus, and players from the Golden Lions women’s soccer team were evaluated.
“It’s two of them who can kick it pretty good,” he said. “They actually did it (placekick) in high school.”
Gamble anticipates Zack Piwniczka should return ahead of the team’s Thursday night matchup at Prairie View.