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UAPB faces conference opener after short week

by Tanner Spearman | September 19, 2023 at 3:29 a.m.
UAPB head Coach Alonzo Hampton, right, and an assistant coach go over a play during the first quarter of a 21-20 win over Miles College on Saturday in Pine Bluff. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

After winning its first game of the season, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff only got about three hours to celebrate.

The Golden Lions had to quickly turn their attention to Thursday night's game at Alabama A&M University. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

Head Coach Alonzo Hampton said it shouldn't be hard for UAPB to shift its focus.

"For us, it's the first conference game," Hampton said. "That in itself is enough to get you motivated. Like I told our guys, we gotta go out there and play a great game, have great focus throughout the week. It's a short week. We got a six-hour bus ride. Six will turn into about eight. At the end of the day, nobody cares about your problems. What we gotta do is, we gotta lock in and get focused and come out ready to roll."

This isn't UAPB's first Thursday night game, as the season opener at the University of Tulsa was Aug. 31. The Golden Lions had all fall camp to prepare. This time, they only get three full days at home before loading the buses Wednesday.

It will also be a short week for Alabama A&M, though the Bulldogs don't have to travel. Alabama A&M Coach Connell Maynor said his team must quickly regroup from Saturday's 20-10 loss at Southern University.

"We did our regular Sunday, and then we practiced [Monday]," Maynor said. "We'll practice [Tuesday] morning and Wednesday, and we'll get ready to play Thursday. It's a short week for us, but it's also a short week for Pine Bluff. So, nobody has an advantage. Nobody has a disadvantage. It's just what it is when you play on Thursday night. You know that's part of it, and you just got to be prepared."

The Golden Lions and Bulldogs have been regular opponents despite playing in opposite divisions. UAPB last defeated Alabama A&M in 2019 in Huntsville, 52-34. UAPB has lost three straight to the Bulldogs since, including the spring 2021 SWAC championship game. Two of those losses were by one score, including last season's 34-31 loss at home.

Alabama A&M opened conference play last week, but this will be UAPB's first SWAC game under Hampton. He said everything is magnified once conference play begins.

"Let's get this thing started off on the right foot," Hampton said. "We just gotta band together as brothers, enjoy the bus ride, enjoy the scenery, get some good food, relax, and come out on Thursday ready to play Golden Lion football, and I think we'll be OK."

This will be UAPB's third game away from home in the season's first four weeks. After this game, the Golden Lions will get three of their next four games at home.

Hampton said while most people prefer home games, he enjoys the road.

"On the road is where you grow, because it's just you versus them," Hampton said. "I tell people all the time, all you really need is a team of brothers to band together and come together. ... It should be loud. It's going to be a great atmosphere, and so I'm excited about that. I like being the underdog. Our players know, man, we were picked last [in the division]. So, listen, ain't no pressure on us, is it?"

Print Headline: UAPB faces conference opener after short week


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