HOUSTON – The Ben Anderson-Willie Young connection helped give Arkansas-Pine Bluff a SWAC championship two years ago. Why wouldn’t they try it again in the clutch?

HOUSTON – The Ben Anderson-Willie Young connection helped give Arkansas-Pine Bluff a SWAC championship two years ago. Why wouldn’t they try it again in the clutch?


And again?


The duo connected for two go-ahead touchdown passes on the same route, the latter coming with 2:15 remaining, and the Golden Lions blocked a field-goal attempt to preserve a 38-37 win in Texas Southern’s homecoming game Saturday before a very sparse BBVA Compass Stadium crowd. The win also ended a four-game skid for the Lions, who must win the remainder of their games to post a winning record.


Young ran the same go-route down the left-hand sideline to beat his defender for the crucial catches. The first one went for 60 yards with 7:56 left and gave UAPB a 32-31 lead.


"They had been going Cover-1 man (to man) the whole game," Anderson said of the Texas Southern defense. "They switched, and they went Cover-3 a couple of times. But they’ve been going just man, man, man, and we knew we just had to hit it when the opportunity presented itself."


It appeared Texas Southern (5-3, 3-3 SWAC) would prevent the upset after marching back 65 yards over the next 5:11 to regain the lead at 37-32, but UAPB (2-5, 1-4) needed just one play to strike back.


The same go-route from Young, just 9 yards longer.


The heroic was reminiscent of his 95-yard haul that sent the 2012 SWAC final in overtime, although it was a different route.


"It brings back memories, especially the kind of ball Ben threw," said Young, who had 142 yards on three receptions. "It be just perfect, because he throws it like no one else is going to catch it. So, it really brought back memories."


The Tigers, driving from their own 23 on their final possession, converted a fourth-and-1 with quarterback Homer Causey’s 5-yard carry to the 37. Causey, playing his first game since injuring his knee against Alabama State on Sept. 27, threw for three more first downs, including a 30-yarder to Larry Clark to the 20 and spiked the ball with 10 seconds left to set up a 37-yard field goal attempt by Eric Medina. But Deondre Curtis blocked the try, and the Lions – who drew a moot excessive celebration penalty – ran out the final 4 seconds to win.


"I thought we took too long to get set, number one," Tigers coach Darrell Asberry said. "We were moving like we had timeouts and the world was on our side. I mean, hell, we were losing. And that’s something I’m going to speak with the special teams coach about."


Causey still finished 27 for 35 for 333 yards and three scores with an interception by Kevin Rucker Jr. Causey was sacked three times.


At halftime, with UAPB leading 26-17, it didn’t appear Anderson and Young would be the heroes. Walk-on junior Brian Handley ran for 179 of his game-high 193 yards in the first half, easily setting a career high.


"A big part of it was the offensive line," Handley said. "They did well blocking, watching the D-line and getting the linebackers in. … I took the A-gap, stayed play-side and read my blocks and I just ran hard. Hopefully, we can keep it going. Run or pass, we’ll be good for the rest of the season."


But Handley found himself in a run-game shootout. Daveonn Porter had 187 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and 83 more yards on seven receptions to lead the Tigers before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle sprain. He ran for 156 against UAPB in last year’s 41-28 win, a game in which Causey rushed for 196. (Causey had 55 Saturday.)


"I hope he’s a senior," Coleman said of Porter. "I hope he’s gone (after this year) and that we don’t ever have to face him again."


Wish granted. The Memphis product is a senior.


"He’s a complete running back, and that’s what you look for," Coleman said. "He plays outstanding."


Despite Handley’s strong first half, UAPB shifted more toward the pass in the second half and struggled to get much of anything going. Texas Southern pulled within 26-24 on its first drive of the half and Anderson threw an interception on the ensuing possession to set up a go-ahead score for the Tigers.


"The philosophy we have as a team, being offense-defense, is that we’re going to take what they give us," Coleman said. "The first half, the run was there. Handley ran it well for us. The second half, Ben was able to find some of the receivers.


"Would we have liked to come back out and run the ball? Absolutely, because it does two things for us. It, first of all, controls the clock and runs time off the clock. And then the second thing, it wears down the defense for us."


The first half was more of a back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by more than four points until Handley’s 17-yard carry up the middle gave the Lions a nine-point lead with 6:44 to go before the break. Tyler Strickland converted two field goals and Anderson hit tight end C.J. Branch on a drag route for a 34-yard TD pass in the half.


Anderson, coming off a UAPB-record 467 passing yards against Grambling State, completed 12 of 23 for 288 yards and three TDs.