PINE BLUFF – University of Arkansas At Pine Bluff head coach Cedric Thomas participated in Monday’s Southwestern Athletic Conference football coaches conference call Monday.
Thomas reviewed Saturday’s 21-12 loss at Jackson St. and gave initial thoughts on Prairie View A&M, which is coming off a 38-35 double overtime loss to Jackson St. on Oct. 24.
The Golden Lions (5-4 overall, 2-3 SWAC) and Panthers (3-5, 2-3) will kickoff Saturday at 2 p.m. at Panther Stadium. The UAPB Sports Network Radio Broadcast begins with the Lions Roar Pregame show at 1:30 p.m. on KPBA 99.3 FM The Beat in Pine Bluff, KARN 920 AM The Sports Animal in Little Rock, online at uapblionsroar.com/live and on the free UAPB Athletics App.
On Game vs. Jackson St.: “It was a playoff-type atmosphere football game going into hostile territory. Coach (John) Hendrick has his guys playing at a high level. We had our hands full and the atmosphere matched it. It was playoff intensity. We got off to a slow start. They got a big play on us (72-yard TD pass) and we go in (down) 7-0 (at halftime) and kind of sputtering, not playing as well as we should, but a lot of that had to do with that Jackson defense getting after us. We came out in the second half and get a little spark and kind of go back and forth. We’re stopping them and they’re stopping us. Big play after big play (offensively). We missed a field goal (in the first half), an extra point, were forced to go for two and didn’t get it, and they get a bigtime kickoff return for touchdown that kind of sealed it.”
On Moving Forward: “As the season kind of winds down, we have to continue to get better, and continue to understand we’re no longer the UAPB of old, and there’s no such thing as sneaking up on anyone. We’re a good football team when we play four quarters of football. This league is too good for you not to play well in all three phases Saturday in and Saturday out. We’ll get back to the drawing board and get ready for a dangerous Prairie View team that’s really exciting and high powered.”
Initial Thoughts On Keys vs. Prairie View A&M: “We have to stop the explosive plays. To watch Mr. (Dawonya) Tucker (SWAC’s leading rusher) develop in this league (throughout his career) is really awesome. We had a chance to play against Tarik (Cohen, former North Carolina A&T running back and current Chicago Bear) in the Celebration Bowl (while Thomas was defensive coordinator at Alcorn St.), and Tucker puts you in the mind of that. Coming in undersized (5-foot-5), probably didn’t have a bunch of offers because of his stature, but to watch that kid develop, get stronger, be able to stay strong in the pass pro(tection) things, be able to catch the football, and get yards after catch is what this league is all about.”
NOTABLES vs. JACKSON ST:
RB Omar Allen had career highs in carries (30) and rushing yards (98)
WR Josh Wilkes posted his second 100-yard receiving game of the season (4-117-0) and fourth of his career
WR DeJuan Miller caught a touchdown pass for the third straight game
WR Harry Ballard III remains tied for the SWAC lead in touchdown receptions (eight), is tied for second in receptions (46), and is third in receiving yards (734).
The defense forced two takeaways (one interception, one fumble) and have forced 14 in the last five games (8 INTs, 6 FR)
Defense has at least one interception in eight straight games; 11 interceptions on season ranks tied for third in the SWAC
Defense recorded two sacks in the game and have made at least one sack in 15 straight games. The Golden Lions ranked third in sacks with 21.
DE Xavier Mitchell recorded at least one sack for the third straight game along with six tackles. In the last three games, he has made 18 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 6.0 tackles for loss. On the season, he is tied for fifth in the SWAC with 4.5.
DE Jalen Steward made a season-high 10 tackles (seven solo), with 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss. He is tied for seventh in the SWAC with 4.0 sacks.
DB Blake Conner made his second interception of the season in the first quarter.
DT Zion Farmer made his first career fumble recovery in the first quarter.
Jordan Brown made his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
DL Zion Farmer made a season-high eight tackles
P Myles Pini had a season-high tying three punts downed inside the 20 and forced a season-high six fair catches on seven punt attempts.