Even in defeat, Arkansas-Pine Bluff running back Jeremiah Young had something to smile about.
In only his fourth career game Saturday, the freshman walk-on had 139 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against Alcorn State. He found out his total during a postgame interview.
“No, no I didn’t know that,” Young said, pleasantly surprised by the statistics. The yardage is a career high, but again, his efforts were not enough to lead UAPB to victory. Young, who had consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Dollarway, said it felt good to have his number called often when he was needed most.
“(Offensive coordinator Eric) Dooley, (quarterback) Ben Anderson and (Kenny) Eagle, the left guard, kept saying run behind (Eagle) and he was going to do his job,” Young said. “Coach trusted him and we kept running behind him.”
Eagle provided the hole on Young’s 46-yard touchdown run with 9:50 left in the third quarter.
Young got the starting nod as classmate Jamie Smith was held out with a shoulder injury. In fact, the rushing game — aside from junior Anderson’s scrambles — were left up to all freshmen.
Walter Ashley made his first two collegiate carries against Alcorn State, both in the first half, and finished with 13 yards. His first carry netted 15 yards and a first down. Draylon Willis also had two carries for 16 yards.
“(Running backs coach Keith) Saine did a good job recruiting running backs,” Young said. “He built us in a way where we play toward each other’s styles so we can help the team in different ways.”
But Young made a crucial mistake down the stretch. After Anderson completed a 40-yard strike to Ladarius Eckwood down to the Alcorn State 7 on the Lions’ final possession, Young fumbled the ball on the next play, thinking he was already down when his knee hit the ground. The ball fell out backward, but Anderson made the recovery for an 8-yard loss. Anderson threw three straight incomplete passes to give the ball back to the Braves with 3:31 left.
Beverly more involved in Lions’ offense
UAPB senior H-back Dezmond Beverly had a season high in receptions Saturday with seven.
Beverly, who entered the game with a 46.3-yard per game average, had 77 yards receiving against Alcorn State. He also had his best first half of the season, totaling four catches for 35 yards. Beverly’s total Saturday is shy of his season-high 113 yards against Arkansas State, but all of his catches against A-State came in the second half, mostly against reserves.
Beverly and classmate Ladarius Eckwood were expected to lead the receiving corps this season after a strong 2012 campaign. Isiah Ferguson, UAPB’s leading receiver in yards per game (61.5 before Saturday), had 43 yards and a touchdown on three catches.
The game was over when …
Arnold Walker ran for 3 yards to his own 27 on fourth-and-1 with less than 2 minutes left in the game, allowing Alcorn State to run out the clock. But that drive was set up by UAPB losing possession on downs.
After Young’s fumble, Anderson threw three incompletions. Devon Francois came from behind Dexter Bryant to bat down the fourth-and-goal pass with 3:31 remaining.
The game ball goes to …
Young for keeping UAPB’s running game going with a starter not available and two returning running backs (Justin Billings and Aaron Lagrone) who have not yet been cleared to play this season.
Next for the Lions …
UAPB takes next weekend off and will return to action Oct. 5 to play Jackson State in a rematch of the 2012 SWAC championship game. Kickoff from Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson is set for 6 p.m.