UAPB falls short in comeback bid

A closing surge allowed Alabama A&M to continue its recent dominance over the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions over a nine-minute span in the second half to rally for a 31-24 victory at Louis Crew Stadium in Huntsville, Ala.

Quincy Casey completed 27 of 33 passes for 328 yards and threw 2 of his 3 touchdowns after halftime for Alabama A&M (2-2, 1-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference), which has won the past four games against the Golden Lions and 11 of the past 13 matchups overall. Donovan Eaglin carried 19 times for 126 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to start the Bulldogs' scoring surge.

Alabama A&M trailed 17-10 at halftime and punted on its first two trips in the second half before scoring 21 of the game's last 28 points. The Bulldogs, who finished with 505 yards of offense, were also able to hold on despite being penalized 11 times for 100 yards.

The loss overshadowed a solid outing from Golden Lions backup quarterback Jalen Macon. The freshman was 17-of-29 passing for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns for the UAPB (1-3, 0-1), which had its chances to extend the game in the final minutes.

The Golden Lions, who were flagged 10 times for 84 yards, had a fumble on the Bulldogs' 16 that was recovered by Alabama A&M's Emari Pait with 3:35 left in the game. But UAPB got another crack at a potential tie or win after the Bulldogs lost yards on a failed fake punt attempt at midfield with 14 seconds to go.

However, Macon threw incomplete on first down and was then sacked on the last play to end the game.

UAPB couldn't have drawn up a better start after linebacker Rico Dozier recovered a fumble by Alabama A&M's Darin Turner at the Bulldogs' 24 on the game's initial play. The Golden Lions turned the takeaway into points when Mekhi Hagens threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kevin English to jump out to a 7-0 lead.

The Bulldogs scuttled back to score the next 10 points of the quarter, beginning with a 27-yard field goal from Luke Moffett. On its next drive, Alabama A&M traveled 55 yards in seven snaps, with Casey throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Gardner.

The Golden Lions, who played without the SWAC's leading rusher in Johness Davis, had a chance to retake the advantage late in the second quarter but dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone on third and goal from the Bulldogs' 5. Instead, UAPB settled for a 22-yard field goal by Dean Sarris that tied the game, but it did make the most of its following opportunity after a failed gamble by the Bulldogs.

Alabama A&M turned the ball over on downs at its 30 with 1:16 left in the first half when Harold Jemison was stopped a yard short on fourth and 3 during its first fake punt attempt. Four plays later, Macon hit Tristan Ballard for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Golden Lions a seven-point halftime lead.

UAPB's offense, though, sputtered in the third quarter. The Golden Lions generated 41 yards total in the period, and all four of their series resulted in punts. Those struggles enabled the Bulldogs to regain control.

Eaglin's touchdown run with 49 seconds remaining in the quarter tied the game at 17-17, and Casey's 29-yard scoring pass to Barry White put Alabama A&M ahead with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter.

UAPB darted right back to tie it again with an 80-yard touchdown pass from Macon to Michael Jamerson, which capped a three-play, 82-yard drive that lasted just 56 seconds. But Casey delivered the go-ahead score with 7:53 left when he scrambled to his right and found White for a touchdown.