Special to the Commercial/Bo Rogers
UAPB linebacker Bill Ross (#25) knocks Jackson State quarterback Clayton Moore (#7) out of bounds in the third quarter Saturday night at Golden Lion Stadium.
Bad weather has become a good omen for the Arkansas-Pine Bluff football team, but hasn’t been great for its attendance.
UAPB beat Jackson State on Saturday night after dealing with its second weather delay of the season, this one lasting 40 minutes. The Golden Lions had just extended their lead to 24-14 with 7:47 left in the third quarter with a 27-yard field goal from Tyler Strickland, but whatever impetus that was built off the scoring drive was stopped by the long delay.
“To be honest, I don’t think any of us thought about it,” quarterback Ben Anderson said of the long pause. “We just came back in the locker room, sat around and chilled until it was time to go back out. When it was time to go back, we turned it on.”
Actually, Jackson State did first, scoring on its next drive, but the Tigers never led in the game.
The bad weather seemingly chased away most of the 6,953 at Golden Lion Stadium by halftime. (The stadium capacity is somewhere between 12,500 and 16,000.) Only a fraction were still in attendance when the game concluded.
With the victory, UAPB improved to 3-1 in the SWAC and strengthened its lead in the Western Division, hoping to earn its first trip to the conference championship game since 2006.
“It’s a definite confidence boost,” Anderson said. “We’re back in conference play, and we got another win against another good team. They were in the East, but a win is a win in the SWAC.”
Ross’ big stop
UAPB linebacker Bill Ross made the biggest of his 14 tackles with 3:07 left in the game. That’s when he stopped Jackson State quarterback Dedric McDonald for no gain on fourth-and-1 to give the Lions possession at their own 49, setting up their last scoring drive.
“I saw the guard block down from film study and I figured they would run a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-short situations,” Ross said. “I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know what side it was coming to. I saw the guard block down and I shot it, and I made the right play.”
Ross’ 14 tackles weren’t even a game-high. Fellow linebackers Xavier Lofton and Jer-ryan Harris each had 15 tackles, but they came while trying to slow down a Jackson State offense that produced 319 rushing yards and 420 total.
“That’s not how we play football,” Ross said. “That hasn’t happened, really. We got big plays. We caused turnovers when we needed them, so that took balance with all the rushing yards they were getting.”
UAPB finished with four takeaways — all fumble recoveries after coming into the game with five on the season.
The game ball goes to …
UAPB running back Dennis Jenkins, whose 154 yards is a season high for any UAPB running back and his most since joining the program last season as a transfer from Florida A&M.
Next for the Lions …
The Lions will take a bye week and resume play at Southern on Oct. 20 for their first game against a Western Division opponent this season. Kickoff at Ace W. Mumford Stadium is set for 6 p.m.