By Mike McCall
Well that wasn’t what anyone had in mind.
No, not even Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman expected his Golden Lions to come out and stomp Southern 50-21 in A.W. Mumford Stadium. UAPB jumped out to a 21-0 lead, then went up 41-6 at halftime, a sequence Coleman called “kind of a blur.”
The Jaguars didn’t play well, but this was more about getting flat-out beaten. Coaching, play-calling, injuries, officiating, weather, bad Gatorade, unusual barometric pressure — all the excuses you could think of don’t make up for one simple fact: the Golden Lions were a better team, and they played like it.
At no point was Southern in control or threatening to be. It was the most points allowed in a SWAC loss since 2010 (Texas Southern’s 54-7 win) and nearly as many points as SU had given up in the previous five games combined (68). UAPB’s 510 yards were the most against Southern this season, and QB Ben Anderson absolutely shredded them with his legs (75 yards, including a 30-yard TD) and arm (296 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-20 passing, mostly on short throws).
Southern had a slew of injuries coming in, like SS Levi Jackson (a late surprise with an arm infection), FS Mychal Bell (knee) and FS/SS D’Mekus Cook (shoulder). That left also injured CB Virgil Williams (shoulder) to play at strong safety, and things got so bad that even freshman quarterback Justin Morgan had to play corner briefly.
But while that might speak to the margin of victory, it doesn’t explain why Southern lost. The Golden Lions did whatever they wanted until they could take their foot off the gas. They didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, which is amazing.
Things pretty much went wrong from the start, as even the National Anthem (sung by an SU cheerleader) was derailed when the microphone cut off. Kudos to her for singing it anyway, even though it was barely audible and the stadium wound up replaying a band version.
Fans did help her finish the song, but that was about the most I can say for Jaguar Nation tonight. With an announced crowd of 13,500, it was FAR below what you’d expect for a first-place battle, especially coming off a 34-7 homecoming win that was attended by 25,400. Numbers aside, the stadium was half-filled and there was no traffic. Shameful work by those who didn’t come (plenty more on that will be in Monday’s paper).
Now, the question is whether Southern can regroup and make something of this season. The division is probably out of reach, since SU (3-4, 2-3 SWAC) would have to win its remaining four games (Prairie View, Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Grambling) and have UAPB (5-2, 4-1 SWAC) lose three of four (Mississippi Valley State, Texas Southern, Grambling, Prairie View).
It’s not impossible, but based on that and Southern’s performance, it looks like the title drought will last at least another year.