Arkansas-Pine Bluff needed something good to happen going into its first of two bye weeks this football season.
The Golden Lions will still have a four-game losing streak hanging over their heads for at least 12 more days, but they’ve sent a message to the SWAC — their running game is tough to slow down.
Freshman Jeremiah Young helped send that message Saturday in a 21-16 loss to Alcorn State, going for 139 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. That performance earned the Dollarway graduate the SWAC’s Newcomer of the Week award, which was announced Monday.
It’s the first weekly conference award a Golden Lion has won this season.
“I’m not surprised,” UAPB coach Monte Coleman said during the SWAC coaches’ teleconference Monday. “He had 21 carries for 139 yards. There should be some recognition for the week.”
Forty-six of Young’s yards came on a touchdown run in the third quarter. He has scored in each game this season, including a touchdown in each of the last three games.
Young, one of three UAPB freshmen to tote the ball Saturday, also recorded the first 100-yard rushing game by a Lion this season.
“He’s a load,” Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson said. “You’ve got to bring your hips and your feet to bring him down. He had a couple of pancake blocks on us. I’m very impressed with him.”
Young’s rushing has been much needed for the Lions. They’ve gone without senior Justin Billings and sophomore Aaron Lagrone, two key returning running backs who Coleman reaffirmed have yet to be cleared by the NCAA to play this season.
Freshman Jamie Smith, who’s started two games this year, missed Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury. He could return to action in UAPB’s next game Oct. 5 at Jackson State.
And junior Alton Taylor, who started at running back in the season opener at Arkansas State, decided to leave the team after that game to focus on his studies, Coleman confirmed Monday.
‘Chances are’ Mims is done for year
Coleman said senior safety T.Q. Mims was to have an MRI done Monday or today on his right knee, which he injured Saturday.
The coach didn’t sound optimistic about Mims’ immediate future.
“Chances are he won’t be back this season,” Coleman said. “Just another blow.”
Mims left the game after he got hurt celebrating his interception in the end zone during the first half.
Mims moved back to safety during the spring after spending last season as a backup quarterback. Depending on how long he will be out, his loss will be another big hit the UAPB secondary has taken. Senior safety Ryan Shaw was declared academically ineligible before the season.
The Lions are now missing seven players who were listed as starters on the depth chart to begin the season. Coleman said the attrition is starting to show in his team’s play.
“We’re just not making plays,” he said.
Plans for bye week
The Lions have plenty to think about during the bye week, but not much of that thought is expected to go into preparations for the Jackson State game.
“This week, we won’t concentrate on any other team but ours,” Coleman said. “We may give a day or two to preparing for Jackson State.”
The Oct. 5 game will be a rematch of the 2012 SWAC championship game, which UAPB won 24-21 in overtime in Birmingham, Ala. UAPB won both meetings with Jackson State last year, the other being a 34-24 decision in Pine Bluff.
Braves vs. Hornets may reveal similarities to Lions
UAPB has already played two teams that will square off this Saturday — one that is sharing the Eastern Division lead and another looking to stay in contention for the division title.
Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow and Alcorn State’s Hopson said they see similarities in the other’s team to UAPB, since both were evenly matched with the Lions.
“Every game is a playoff-type atmosphere,” Barlow said. “Offensively, both quarterbacks (Alcorn State’s John Gibbs Jr. and UAPB’s Ben Anderson) are mobile and athletic. We’ve had our experience with mobile quarterbacks, but both teams are also athletic and physical.”
Alabama State QB Daniel Duhart, like Gibbs and Anderson, is experienced at managing a fast-paced offense.