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Not Just A Rematch: Lions face must-win situation on road


To Monte Coleman, the whole rematch thing between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jackson State doesn’t matter. Beating the only undefeated team in conference play does.

Just earning a win matters to Coleman and his Golden Lions. They haven’t tasted victory since that blustery December day in Birmingham, Ala., when they beat Jackson State for the SWAC championship.

“Last year was last year,” Coleman said. “It was definitely a blessing for us to go out and beat a team twice in one season, with one of those games having the significance of being a conference championship.”

Jackson State coach Rick Comegy sees one thing in UAPB that remains the same from last year’s title bout — UAPB, though winless this season (0-4, 0-2 SWAC), is still the conference champion.

“I see a team that’s getting better and better,” Comegy said. “You have to stay on your toes to beat them.”

In some ways, the Golden Lions have gotten better after being outscored 120-22 by Arkansas State and McNeese State and giving up 1,200 total yards to those two teams. In their last outing two weeks ago against Alcorn State, UAPB gave up its fewest points of the season in a 21-16 loss and racked up 452 yards of offense, the second straight game it’s surpassed the 400-yard mark and outgained the opposition.

The Lions have had golden opportunities to win in their first two conference games, but they have yet to finish in the clutch.

“I feel like we can play with anybody if we put our minds to it,” Coleman said. “We’ve got to relax. We’ve got to start fast, and we’ve got to finish. As simplistic as that sounds, that’s a mountain.”

UAPB nearly topped that mountain twice. After spotting Alabama State the first 21 points, the Lions came back to lead 39-30, but gave up two scoring drives and three quarterback sacks (on the same drive) in the final 9:42 to fall 40-39.

The next week, the Lions came from 21-9 down to within 21-16 against the Braves, but a nine-play, 65-yard drive ended on downs and Alcorn State — with a little luck, of course — ran out the final 3:31 to win.

Plenty of cause for Coleman to worry more about his team than the opposition.

“If we execute and do the things we need to do, we’re a better football team,” he said. “So, it doesn’t behoove us to spend much time worrying about what other teams are going to do, as opposed to perfecting what we need to do. That’s what we did last week.”

In a season where the Lions have been dealt lots of adversity, Coleman feels they’ve run out of excuses for not winning in the conference. Some of the returning players who have yet to be cleared for action this season are still sidelined for reasons the school has not specified, so the lineup has remained basically the same as it was when UAPB began conference play.

Punter Dylan Neiheiser, a transfer from Malone (Ohio), has been cleared to play for the first time this season for UAPB. And freshman running back Jamie Smith will return to the lineup after missing the Alcorn State game with a shoulder bruise.

Now, it’s just a matter of winning again. To do that, UAPB will need to beat a team that ranks second in the SWAC in total defense (289.2 yards per game allowed), first in pass defense (147.4) and first in first downs allowed (75 through five games).

Led by senior dual threat Clayton Moore (163.2 yards passing and 66.0 rushing per game), J-State leads the conference in possession time, averaging almost 33 minutes. Their winning formula in conference play, according to Comegy, has been moving the chains.

“I think we understand what’s coming up against Jackson,” UAPB quarterback Ben Anderson said. “I don’t think anyone on this side (Western Division) likes Jackson, and I think the feeling is mutual on the other side.”

Golden Lion Notes • I.C. Murrell

• Jackson State leads the all-time series 22-13-1, with UAPB winning the last two meetings (34-24 in Pine Bluff last October and 24-21, overtime, in the SWAC championship last December). Jackson State won the last meeting in Jackson, 48-10, before a crowd of 38,722 in 2011.

• Jackson State ranks ninth in all of the Football Championship Subdivision in average attendance and third in the SWAC with 17,902. Today’s game is the third at home for Jackson State this season.

• Two UAPB linebackers are ranked first and second among the SWAC’s tackle leaders: sophomore Antonio Jenkins (13.3 per game) and senior Jer-ryan Harris (12.8). UAPB senior linebacker Xavier Lofton is tied for eighth with 9.0.

• This will be UAPB’s last road game until Oct. 26, when it travels to Mississippi Valley State. UAPB will host Texas Southern next Saturday and Southern for homecoming Oct. 19.

UAPB at Jackson State projected starters

UAPB offense

WR: 15-Dezmond Beverly (Sr.)

H-slot: 17-Dexter Bryant (Sr.)

LT: 77-Me’kale Carter

LG: 65-Kenny Eagle (Sr.)

C: 64-Toddra Pamplin (So.)

RG: 60-Keathric Brown (Sr.)

RT: 71-Trevon Reagan (Fr.)

QB: 11-Ben Anderson (Jr.)

TB: 34-Jamie Smith (Fr.)

Y-slot: 37-Cody Swain (So.)

WR: 10-Ladarius Eckwood (Sr.)

UAPB defense

LE: 90-Anthony Smith (Sr.)

LT: 93-Troy Goss (Jr.)

RT: 98-Caleb Ealy (So.)

RE: 56-Julian Morgan (Fr.)

WLB: 35-Xavier Lofton (Sr.)

MLB: 40-Kyle Walker (So.)

SLB: 51-Jer-ryan Harris (Sr.)

SS: 22-Kevin Rucker Jr. (So.)

FS: 20-Tavion Garrison (Fr.)

LC: 23-Gyovanni Harvey (Sr.)

RC: 26-David Watson (Sr.)

UAPB specialists

K: 3-Tyler Strickland (So.)

Hold: 10-Ladarius Eckwood (Sr.)

P: 29-Dylan Neiheiser (Jr.)

Snap: 7-C.J. Branch (Jr.)

KR: 31-Andre Mitchell (So.)

PR: 31-Andre Mitchell (So.)

Jackson State defense

DE: 53-Cedric Hogan (Sr.)

DT: 95-Armon Carter (Sr.)

DT: 91-Coleman Johnson (So.)

DE: 41-Tedderick Terrell (So.)

LB: 28-John McNabb (Sr.)

LB: 40-Todd Wilcher (Sr.)

DB: 5-Cameron Loeffler (Sr.)

TG: 26-Ryan Griffin (Jr.)

FS: 8-Travis Woods (Sr.)

CB: 20-Qua Cox (Sr.)

CB: 6-Joe Perry (So.)

Jackson State offense

LT: 67-Derek Jean (Sr.)

LG: 77-Danny Williams (Jr.)

C: 59-Jordan Arthur (Sr.)

RG: 55-Jonathan Smith (Jr.)

RT: 79-Jaydell Roy (Jr.)

QB: 7-Clayton Moore (Sr.)

RB: 24-Tommy Gooden (Sr.)

H-slot: 87-DeSean McKenzie (So.)

WR: 81-Daniel Williams (Fr.)

WR: 82-Zachary Pendleton (Sr.)

WR: 1-Tobias Singleton (Sr.)

Jackson State specialists

K: 31-Ryan Deising (So.)

Hold: 11-Tevin Chapman (Jr.)

P: 32-Darcy Williamson (Fr.)

Snap: 58-Shaun Wilmore (Jr.)

PR: 3-Jarius Moore (Fr.)

KR: 3-Jarius Moore (Fr.)