Running game, D spark Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Not much has been written about Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but the Golden Lions (6-2 overall, 5-1 in SWAC) have quietly put together a great season.

UAPB is on top of the league’s Western Division, and its only losses are to Alabama A&M and Tennessee State, two of the nation’s top black college football teams.

UAPB head coach Monte Coleman has succeeded with great defense and a solid running game. Coleman has some of the best defensive players not only in the SWAC, but in the FCS. The linebacker corps has been tremendous, led by Bill Ross (85 total tackles, 44 solos), Jer-ryan Harris (68 total tackles, 33 solo) and Xavier Lofton (65 total tackles, 38 solo). They all do a great job of swarming to the football, and it’s hard to move the ball against them. The Golden Lions don’t give up many big plays and are just fundamentally sound.

Of course, it all starts up front. Defensive end Brandon Thurmond leads the SWAC with 10.5 sacks. Thurmond, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior, is one of the best pass-rushers in the country. In fact, Thurmond and Ross are solid NFL prospects. Ross, a 6-2, 240-pound senior, leads the conference in tackles.

Offensively, the Golden Lions have a reliable running back in Justin Billings. Billings, who has good quickness and can turn the corner, has 76 carries for 406 yards and three touchdowns. He had 18 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown in UAPB’s 10-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff will visit Texas Southern in Houston on Saturday. Another victory will move UAPB closer to a division title. In addition, the team will be headed to the SWAC championship game held at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 8.


  • Alabama State defeated Alabama A&M 31-13 in the 71st annual Magic City Classic at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Alabama State quarterback Greg Jenkins was named the game’s offensive MVP after completing 10 of 15 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for one TD. Hornets defensive end Jimmy Daniels was named the game’s defensive MVP. Daniels had two sacks and three tackles.

  • The New York Urban League Football Classic will be returning to Yankee Stadium after 25 years. The NYUL Classic will host Hampton and Morgan State from the MEAC and will be played on Nov. 17.

  • Bethune-Cookman is now first in the MEAC after its impressive 42-17 win over North Carolina Central. Isidore Jackson had a big day running the football for B-CU with 14 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. B-CU will play at Morgan State on Saturday.

  • South Carolina State QB Richard Cue was named the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Cue completed 26 of 41 passes for 417 yards with four touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 41-23 win over Howard.

  • South Carolina State defensive lineman Alex Glover has been selected as the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Glover led the Bulldogs with eight tackles, seven unassisted -- including four for a loss of 10 yards -- and three quarterback sacks.

Contact Donald Hunt with HBCU questions, comments or story ideas at dhunt37261@aol.com.