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UAPB offense showed potential at end

by Tanner Spearman | September 11, 2023 at 3:21 a.m.
UAPB quarterback Jalen Macon (14) scrambles as Tennessee State defender James Green gives chase Saturday in Memphis during the Southern Heritage Classic. TSU won 24-14. (Special to The Commercial/UAPB Athletics)

MEMPHIS -- The comeback wasn't meant to be Saturday night, but the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offense showed its potential at the end.

UAPB fell 24-14 to Tennessee State in the Southern Heritage Classic, but the offense built some momentum in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Alonzo Hampton said the near comeback helped his players believe they are never out of the game.

"What I wanted to see from my squad was guys to come out and fight, and we did that in the second half," Hampton said. "Obviously, the offense got moving the way I know the offense can move, and then we had a chance to win the football game. That's what it's really all about."

Running back Johness Davis has been a bright spot for the Golden Lions and has led the team in rushing both games. He has carried the ball 41 times this season for 249 yards and a touchdown.

TSU coach Eddie George said he was impressed with Davis.

"I watched him all last week, how sudden he was against Tulsa and how quick he was, making guys miss, how hard he ran," George said. "I knew at some point, he was going to be a problem for us, and he was."

UAPB quarterback Mekhi Hagens, who started the Tulsa game, did not play against Tennessee State after picking up an injury in the second half against the Golden Hurricane. This allowed Jalen Macon, who went 5-for-5 in Tulsa, to play the entire Classic.

Between the two games, Macon has completed 24 of 29 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. Hampton said he still expects both quarterbacks to play throughout the season.

After an early touchdown at Tulsa in week one, UAPB went six straight quarters without scoring. Just as things were looking bleak Saturday, the Lions found their rhythm. They put together a seven-play touchdown drive early in the fourth, which Davis capped off with a 4-yard run.

Davis said the offense comes together when things get challenging.

"That's why we looked so much better in the second half than we did in the first," Davis said. "Things get hard, but we come closer together instead of pointing that finger."

After the defense forced a fumble on the next TSU drive, UAPB took over at its own 1-yard line. Just as the Tigers had done in the first quarter, the Golden Lions drove 99 yards to score. Macon wrangled a bad snap and found tight end Kevin English in the end zone for a touchdown, trimming the deficit to 17-14.

Hampton said the offense settled down in the fourth quarter.

"We started going with a little tempo, and we started getting the ball on the edges and getting the ball to the playmakers," Hampton said. "When you run the ball like that, the way Johness is running the football, it's hard for people to cover you on the outside."

UAPB's comeback wasn't to be as TSU blocked what would have been a game-tying field goal in the final minute, but the Lions' offense still got them into the red zone for a third straight drive. It wasn't enough to win the game, but it showed what this offense can do when it gets rolling.

Print Headline: UAPB offense showed potential at end


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