LAKE CHARLES, La. — In two games this season, Arkansas-Pine Bluff has given up 1,200 yards of total offense.
Blame it on higher-caliber competition in Sun Belt Conference power Arkansas State and FCS 18th-ranked McNeese State, if you’d like. But UAPB senior Jer-ryan Harris gave another reason for the defense’s woes after the unit allowed 528 yards Saturday in a 58-14 loss at McNeese State.
“It’s not the scheme. It’s not anything but just effort,” said Harris, who had 10 tackles.
A lack of effort, he meant.
“We’ve got to go back and find the guys who want to play. That’s all it is,” Harris said.
“No effort. We looked at the (McNeese) guys. They didn’t do anything unexpected. They did everything we knew they were going to do. We just did not go out there and execute, and we’ve got to find the guys who are going to help us do that.”
McNeese State scored against UAPB about as often as Arkansas State did a week earlier in the Red Wolves’ 62-11 win. The Cowboys scored on eight of their first nine drives.
Plus, McNeese State dominated possession. The Cowboys owned the ball for 40 minutes, 24 seconds, leaving UAPB with 19:36.
Nine minutes and 35 seconds of the Cowboys’ possession came on a 19-play, 83-yard drive that resulted in a 12-yard Dylan Long catch-and-run off a screen pass. That made the score 51-14 with 1:56 left.
Special teams problems
McNeese State also found some holes in UAPB’s special teams.
With the game tied at 14 early in the second quarter, Diontae Spencer returned a kickoff 80 yards to the UAPB 17. Four plays later, backup quarterback Tyler Bolfing ran from 7 yards out to put the Cowboys ahead for good.
Spencer took back the opening second-half kickoff 40 yards to the McNeese State 41, and the Cowboys needed just three plays from there to score. Starter Cody Stroud connected with Ernest Celestie for a 33-yard TD pass to end the short series.
McNeese State only punted once. That was early in the fourth quarter.
The game was over when …
McNeese State’s Marcus Wiltz ran on all three plays of a 51-yard drive to extend the lead to 30-14 in the second quarter. That drive came right after UAPB gave up a safety when quarterback Ben Anderson fumbled and linebacker Bo Brown missed recovering the ball before it rolled out of the back of the end zone.
The game ball goes to …
Wiltz for his three touchdown runs and game-high 115 yards on 12 carries.
Next for the Lions …
UAPB will play its first home game and first SWAC contest of the season next Saturday when it takes on Alabama State. Kickoff at Golden Lion Stadium is set for 4 p.m., and the game will be webcast on ESPN3.com.
A same-day broadcast is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.