By I.C. Murrell

By I.C. Murrell

COMMERCIAL SPORTS EDITOR

The usual rallying cry for Arkansas-Pine Bluff goes: “Who are you rootin’ for? U! A! P-B!”

Next Saturday, in front of their television sets, Golden Lion fans can add “and Southern!” to that.

UAPB on Saturday cleared two of three hurdles to get to the SWAC championship game — defeating Texas Southern and having Alabama A&M beat Prairie View A&M. Now, Southern must beat Grambling State next Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome for the Golden Lions to win their first Western Division title in five seasons.

Plans had not yet been set for an official team watch party next Saturday. Asked where or with whom he would watch the Bayou Classic, coach Monte Coleman said with a laugh: “It could be me and my wife.”

During the game, Coleman said he “only heard rumors” that Alabama A&M had beaten Prairie View, adding he and the Lions were focused on their own game. (UAPB fans cheered when they heard through the public address system Alabama A&M won 17-15.)

Now, the Lions will cheer on a team they found themselves in a postgame brawl with just one month ago, resulting in the suspensions of 25 UAPB and 15 Southern players during the past three weeks.

“To lose 25 guys over a three-week span, that was devastating to us,” Coleman said. “We’re proud of the way the guys played without their teammates during the suspensions, and even more proud to show our fans, our city and the SWAC what we’re capable of doing when we’ve got all of our guys clicking on all cylinders.”

How will practice go?

Not knowing whether they will play another game, the Lions will have regular practices Monday and Tuesday and take the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving. Should Southern win, they will have a usual practice week for a road game, Coleman said, since the SWAC title game is in Birmingham, Ala.

“We’re still going to go in with a clear mind,” running back Stephen Jones said. “We’re going to practice, as if it was another game. Like I said, I’ve got the faith that (Grambling is) going to lose, so basically we’re preparing and we’re going to be in there.”

Odds and ends

Francois Ejiofor’s punt into his own Texas Southern teammate’s back was not the only notable blunder during the game.

UAPB running back Dennis Jenkins, trying to slow down after being forced out of bounds on a 9-yard carry late in the first half, ran into one of the UAPB band’s tubas, breaking it in half. Band members were positioned near the concrete wall at the visitors’ stands as they waited to begin their halftime performance.

Phabion Fulcher, a UAPB senior from Dallas, took his first six carries of the season, finishing with 23 yards. He made the first carry of the game for 6 yards and earned a first down two plays later on an 11-yard tote.

The game ball goes to …

The Lions’ senior class, who scored all of the team’s touchdowns Saturday. Adrian Moore and Stephen Jones each rushed for two touchdowns.

Also in the SWAC …

Only three games were played Saturday, with Alabama State, Grambling and Southern taking the week off and Mississippi Valley State done with its season. Jackson State defeated Alcorn State 51-7 in the Capital City Classic in Jackson, Miss.