Courtesy of Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Directo, Alabama A&M University
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – In a game of “he who scores last wins”, Alabama A&M (3-4, 3-1 SWAC) pulled out a hard-fought 34-31 victory at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-5, 0-4 SWAC) in an NCAA Division I football game on Sunday, October 16.
THE STATS – ALABAMA A&M
Its not often that you can say that the defense led the way in a game with 34 points but that is exactly the case as senior linebacker Dre Terry (Roanoke Rapids, N.C.) erupted for 14 tackles and a 31-yard interception. Junior defensive end Zareon Hayes (Dillon, S.C.) wrecked the UAPB offense with 10 tackles, five solo, 1.5 for loss and an eight-yard sack.
Senior safety JaBraun McNeal (Gadsden, Ala.) and junior defensive tackle Liston Richardson each added a sack and senior safety Saeed Holt (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had six tackles and a pick. Sophomore safety Moses Douglass(Springfield, Ohio) and senior linebacker Farrell Hester II(Las Vegas, Nev.) each added seven tackles to cap the top defensive performances.
Junior quarterback Xavier Lankford (Pelham, Ala.) went 12-for-21 with 162 yards and a touchdown through the air and ran nine times for 37 yards and a score. He was joined on the ground by sophomore running back Donovan Eaglin (Houston, Texas) who delivered 126 yards on 19 carries and redshirt-junior running back Harold Jemison, Jr. (Nashville, Tenn.) finished with 69 yards and two scores on 12 carries.
Sophomore wideout Keenan Hambrick (Athens, Ala.) hauled in four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown and redshirt-senior tight end Kendric Johnson (New Market, Ala.) had a key snag for 30 yards.
Sophomore kicker Victor Barbosa (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) pulled double-duty, punting three times for 119 yards and an average of 39.7 with a long of 43 and connected on a pair of clutch field goals. He would hit from 30-yards in the first to open the scoring and from 29 with 5:59 to play to close it.
After forcing a three-and-out on UAPB’s opening possession, the Bulldogs put together a sustained 11-play drive that covered 63 yards in 4:06. That would culminate in a 30-yard field goal by Barbosa to go up 3-0 with 9:18 showing on the clock.
Things would get no better for the Golden Lions next time out as they managed just three plays and went negative 12 yards to give the ball right back. It would prove to be yet another unfortunate series of events for Arkansas-Pine Bluff as it resulted in instant offense as Lankford connected on passes of 16-, nine- and 20-yards, the last hitting paydirt to Hambrick to stretch the lead to 10-0.
It would be UAPB’s turn to find their offense, however, as tailback Kayvon Britten broke free for a 58-yard touchdown on 3rd and 1 to cut the margin to three by the 4:11 mark.
Their defense would then allow just five plays and 17 yards on A&M’s next possession and would see Britten carry them once again – this time breaking off a 78-yard run on first down. Brought down at the two-yard line, he would finish what he started with a two-yard TD to flip the script and pull ahead 14-10 with 43 seconds left in the quarter.
Alabama A&M would then span the quarter break with a lightning quick drive, going 75 yards in six plays in just 1:38. A 30-yard grab by Johnson and a 26-yard rush by Jemison anchored that possession, one that would see the bruising tailback take it in from 10 yards out to retake the lead, 17-14, just under a minute into the second quarter.
The Golden Lions would put together an eight-play drive next time out only to see Terry step in front of a Chance Edwards pass at the A&M 32-yard line and run it back 31 yards. Another big time play would once again set the Bulldogs up for points as they would go 37 yards in just four plays and 1:32, a stretch capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Lankford.
That scramble put A&M up 24-14 and, once again, the defense would step up on the very next possession. UAPB would get just three plays on that drive – with the third being a pass that ended up in the arms of Holt with 6:10 remaining in the half. While they would not be able to capitalize on that turnover like they had the previous one by Terry it did squelch the Golden Lion’s drive.
The Bulldogs would not be so fortunate the next time out as Arkansas-Pine Bluff put together a 12-play, 69-yard drive over the course of 4:21 to pull to within 24-17 behind a 42-yard Cristofer Thompson field goal. Coming with 12 seconds to play, the teams would then take that margin to the break.
Following a three-and-out by A&M to start the second half, UAPB would take advantage with a six-play, 24-yard drive that Britten capped with a one-yard touchdown run to knot it up at 24-24. Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs would answer right back as they took small chunks at a time in their own nine play, 65-yard drive to go back ahead, 31-24, on a five-yard plunge by Jemison with 6:59 on the clock.
The Golden Lions would then mount a mammoth 17-play drive that covered 70 yards and saw Britten do damage again, this time from four yards out to tie it at 31-31 with 11:58 to play. The Bulldogs would come right back with their own 16-play effort, this one ending on the foot of Barbosa from 29-yards out for a 34-31 lead with 5:59 left.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff would get the ball back at their own 35-yard line thanks to a kick out of bounds and would head to the 50 with a facemask penalty. Even given the short field they could only get to the A&M 40-yard line and an Edwards incompletion essentially ended it as Alabama A&M then ran out the clock with a pair of kneel downs.
THE STATS – ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF
UAPB’s side of the ledger is dominated by one individual and that would be Britten, who toted the rock 32 times for a whopping 277 yards with four touchdowns. Edwards managed just 39 yards from under center, getting sacked four times and picked twice.
Grant Ewell, Jr. led the defense with 12 stops, half of those solo, and Kyre Williams finished with nine with a sack. Syncere Jones added eight tackles and Rico Dozier and Anas Luqman each had a sack to round out the top performers.
The Bulldogs will now be off for two weeks until their version of Armageddon when they travel to Birmingham, Alabama to face rival Alabama State in the 81st Magic City Classic on Saturday, October 29. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.