The Golden Lions have seen their season badly tarnished by one of the most shocking college football brawls since the Miami (Fla.)/Florida International melee in 2006. A stunning 41 players were subsequently suspended from both the UAPB and Southern teams — including 25 from Coach Monte Coleman’s roster. The Southwestern Athletic Conference later relented and agreed to stagger the suspension over more than one game, but that hasn’t kept Pine Bluff from sliding right off a cliff in 2011.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff proceeded to lose to Grambling, in a key Western Division match, then fell 28-12 last week to Alabama State to spoil homecoming. Coleman’s defense allowed fill-in starter Devin Dominguez to pass for 254 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Nehemiah Henry, as well as three rush touchdowns by Alabama State’s Tim Clark.
Meanwhile, quarterback Benjamin Anderson was picked off twice, one of which cost the Golden Lions (4-5, 3-4) what might have been a sure score when Markinley Saint Fort ended a 15-play, 70-yard drive at the ASU 6-yard line late in the first half.
“The kids who played this week, played hard,” Coleman said. “But we’re missing 12 key players, the majority of them starters. So, you go in short handed, and then you lose some players because of injury in the game, it just escalates. Alabama State is a very good team. We knew that going in. I just wish we had all of our weapons going in.”
It’s doesn’t get any easier this week, as Arkansas-Pine Bluff will again be missing 6 suspended players, four of them starters, according to Coleman. His team is facing a dangerous Mississippi Valley State team that, though it’s 1-9, has pushed several favored foes to the brink of defeat. That one win? Earlier this month against defending SWAC champion Texas Southern, snapping a 19-game losing streak.
“I think they’re the most improved team in the conference — a scary team,” Coleman said. “They play with lot of heart, lot of emotion. I don’t see it as a cake walk. It’s going to be a battle.”