Special to the Commercial/Mike Adam
UAPB quarterback Ben Anderson looks for an open receiver during Saturday’s game against Mississippi Valley State at Golden Lion Stadium.
Ben Anderson sounded defeated early in his postgame comments after Arkansas-Pine Bluff had just beaten Mississippi Valley State 10-0.
Though Valley’s defense had much to do with it, the Golden Lions’ offense didn’t play their best game. They were, of course, a week removed from a 50-21 victory at Southern.
“We pretty much beat ourselves,” Anderson said. “(The Delta Devils) were good, and I take nothing away from them, but there was a lot of stuff we did to ourselves.”
UAPB committed four turnovers, as Anderson threw an interception and the Lions lost three fumbles. They had 259 total yards, which was slightly more than half of what they racked up against Southern, but fewer than what Valley has allowed on average this season (282.57 going into Saturday’s game).
Anderson also was not happy with UAPB’s nine penalties for 101 yards against Valley. The Lions have been plagued with yellow flags all season long, averaging 11.3 for 93.3 yards before the Valley game.
“We might have had a little lack of focus,” Anderson said. “I’m glad homecoming week is over now. We can go back to regular focus.”
Homecoming week has come to a close at UAPB, and along with it, a defensive battle.
On Saturday, UAPB’s defense put up a slightly better performance than Valley’s highly-ranked unit. The Lions did more than hold the Delta Devils to 212 total yards; they collected four sacks to the Devils’ one, while each team broke up five passes and made seven tackles for losses.
The Lions’ defense also rose to the occasion as the Devils started four drives inside UAPB territory.
“That’s why I think we’ve got the best defense in the SWAC,” Anderson said. “I hate that we put them in the situations we put them in, but they are dependable and they always come through for us.”
UAPB defensive end Brandon Thurmond collected his 12th sack of season with a solo tackle in the first half. It was his ninth solo sack of the season.
By NCAA standards, Thurmond, the Football Championship Subdivision’s sack leader, has 10.5 sacks, as his three assisted stops are counted as half-sacks. The SWAC counts each assisted and unassisted sack as a whole.
Complete to Wray
Lions senior tight end Patrick Wray finally broke into the receptions column this season.
Wray made his first two catches of the season for 20 yards Saturday, becoming the first traditional tight end for UAPB to reel in a catch. Dezmond Beverly, who plays a hybrid wide receiver-tight end position, is the team’s second-leading receiver.
Wray missed most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons due to injury.
A little chippy, maybe?
Valley wide receiver Terrance Hudson was thrown out with 3:54 left in the game for kicking UAPB linebacker Xavier Lofton after an incomplete pass. That was on the heels of UAPB being assessed a roughing-the-punter penalty when it appeared Kyle Walker barely touched the punter on his follow-through.
Valley was forced to punt again on the drive.
The game ball goes to …
UAPB defensive end Damien Lee, who finished with 2.5 sacks for a total loss of 20 yards.
In other news …
UAPB has signed a one-year deal to play Arkansas State in football next season, UAPB athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. confirmed Saturday.
Hardy declined to release terms of the contract. He added the game will be played either at Liberty Bank Stadium in Jonesboro or War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir told The Jonesboro Sun on Oct. 15 he was looking at moving the game to Little Rock “for a myriad of reasons,” but did not specify further. A-State coach Gus Malzahn said the game could help his school build a fan base in central Arkansas.
Next for the Lions …
UAPB will travel to Houston to take on Texas Southern next Saturday. Kickoff at the new BBVA Compass Stadium is set for 2 p.m.