FCS Football: Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wins SWAC Title

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FCS Football: Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wins SWAC Title
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The FCS playoffs were in full swing this weekend, with the quarterfinals providing several marquee matchups.

However, those weren't the only FCS games happening on Saturday. The SWAC, which doesn't participate in the playoffs, hosted its conference championship game at historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

The game pitted the 7-4 Jackson State Tigers against the 9-2 Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions. The two had already met once this season, with the Golden Lions winning 34-24 on October 6th in Pine Bluff.

On Saturday, the rematch wound up being a whole lot closer.

Jackson State jumped out to an early 14-0 lead after the first quarter. Clayton Moore threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Rico Richardson and Rakeem Sims followed that up with a 37-yard touchdown run.

The Golden Lions got on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a one-yard Benjamin Anderson touchdown run. The Tigers then extended their lead back to 14 again on a one-yard touchdown run of their own by Moore.

It appeared that the teams would go into the locker room at halftime with Jackson State leading 21-7, but that all changed with just seconds remaining in the half. With the Tigers nearing the Golden Lions' end zone, linebacker Xavier Lofton hit Moore from behind and caused a fumble. Fellow linebacker Bill Ross scooped up the ball and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown with just four seconds remaining in the half.

The second half was dominated by defense, with both teams being held scoreless for the first 28 minutes of the half.

With only two minutes remaining, the Golden Lions found themselves at their own 5-yard-line down seven. What happened next will forever live on in SWAC lore, as QB Anderson found Willie Young on a 95-yard touchdown pass, which sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, Jackson State had the ball first, but wasn't able to move it at all and had to settle for a 43-yard field-goal attempt, which kicker Raphael Dent missed. UAPB then secured the victory with a 26-yard Tyler Strickland field goal.

The win gave Arkansas-Pine Bluff its first SWAC title. 

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