BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A 95-yard touchdown pass from Arkansas-Pine Bluff quarterback Benjamin Anderson to Willie Young with 2 minutes left in regulation forced overtime, and the Lions emerged with a 24-21 victory over Jackson State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game at Legion Field.
"Sometimes when you're dealing with destiny, you can't change it," said Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman, the former NFL linebacker, who led his team to its first SWAC championship. "We bent but we never broke. Did it scare us? Absolutely, but don't ever count us out."
Destiny was on the side of the Lions (10-2) in the first overtime game in SWAC championship history. Jackson State (7-5) had the ball first but failed to score when Ryan Deising's 43-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff thought it won on the first on the first play of its overtime possession when running back Justin Billings escaped down the sideline and tumbled into the end zone. But he stepped out on the 5-yard line, setting up a first down. Four plays later, Tyler Strickland came on to hit a 26-yard game-winning field goal.
All Jackson State, which outgained the Lions 270 yards to 78 in the first half, could do was wonder how things got away. The Tigers had jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a 40-yard pass from Clayton Moore to Rico Richardson and a 37-yard run by Rakeem Sims.
Late in the first half, the Tigers still led by 14 points, 21-7, and seemed on the way to padding the advantage. But Moore fumbled after being hit from behind by linebacker Xavier Lofton, and Bill Ross scooped the ball up and raced 73 yards for a touchdown with 4 seconds left in the half.
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