Panhandle Shocks Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Brock Kappelmann - September 12, 2016 7:01 am
Pine Bluff, Ark.—In their second NCAA Division I matchup of the season the Panhandle State football team proved that the biggest component of an “Aggie” is HEART. The team prevailed through an injury-ridden 60-minutes of play, against an oversized opponent, to earn the first victory over a D-I team in school history; the Aggies came back in the fourth quarter to defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 20-16 in Saturday evening’s matchup.
Forced to punt in each of their three possessions of the first quarter, the Aggies were unable to establish a running game and went zero of three passing in their first fifteen minutes on the field. Pine Bluff out-gained Panhandle on offense 114-50 (yards) in the first quarter; but the Aggie defense fought hard, holding the Golden Lions to a field goal, which was scored with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. Pine Bluff’s offense was charged with three penalties for a combined loss of 23 yards, playing to their own detriment.
UAPB would add three more penalties for 29 yards in the second quarter, including a holding penalty on a 33-yard punt-return that moved the Golden Lions back in their own territory. The Aggies defense added pressure on PB’s quarterback as they brought Brandon Duncan down with three sacks for a total loss of 25 yards in the quarter; D’Darrin Primes, Sequoia Smith, Dharrius Timmons and Jawan Purifoy each contributed on the take-downs. In the Lions’ second drive, on a 3rd-and-16 play, Primes got the solo sack causing a QB fumble which was recovered by senior linebacker Brandon Gipe, giving Panhandle State the ball on their own 48-yardline.
On momentum of the turnover quarterback Shane Truelove led the Aggies into Pine Bluff territory on a six-yard QB keeper, followed up with a complete pass to Dorion Barnett placing the ball on the UAPB 41. Two failed pass attempts brought the ensuing series to a 4th-and-4 situation; Truelove took aim for Eddie Thomas and connected for an 18-yard reception and another Aggie first down. With Rod Moore taken out with an injury in the first quarter, junior Cedric Agyeman took over at the running back position and grounded out 16 yards in his first three attempts, helping set up a short two-yard pass into the end zone from Truelove to receiver Steven White, Jr. Panhandle’s defense held the Lions on their own side of the field forcing a punt as the first half drew to a close. The Aggies took over on the OPSU 20 with 30 seconds remaining on the clock; Agyeman opened with a 12-yard rush for a first down and then time ticked out sending the Aggies into the break with a 7-3 lead.
The third quarter got off to a quick start as UAPB returned the opening kickoff by Sterling Claphan 61 yards to the OPSU 36. Four plays later the Golden Lions found the end zone on a first-and-ten running play that went 13 yards for the TD; a successful PAT turned the lead over to the home team 10-7 with only a minute taken off the clock. The Aggies came out running with Agyeman taking the first three hand-offs for 22 yards across midfield. Truelove gained the third first-down of the drive on an 11-yard rush; but two incomplete passes put the Aggies back in a fourth-down dilemma. Opting to go for it on 4th-and-6, Kakerrius Walker ran for four yards, just shy of the conversion.
Pine Bluff found success once more on their second drive of the third quarter, connecting on five-of-five pass attempts and gaining 43 yards on the ground to add another six points to the board; the extra point attempt failed, leaving the Aggies behind by nine points (7-16). Panhandle took to an air assault that saw Truelove complete eight of nine passes prior to taking his first sack of the game. The Aggies maintained possession going into the fourth quarter and continued to drive all the way to the UAPB six-yard line. Truelove was sacked for a loss of seven on a third-and-goal play bringing Claphan out for a 30-yard field goal attempt; the kick was blocked leaving the Aggies empty-handed after a long 19-play, 80-yard drive that knocked over six minutes off the clock.
The Darkside Defense contained the Golden Lions with a forced punt on the next series and the Aggies offense took the field with 9:20 left in the game. Agyeman earned a first down on a four-yard pass and two consecutive runs totaling ten yards. Truelove received his second sack for a loss of ten, but a holding penalty left the ball in Aggie hands. Three complete passes later, the Aggies were back in business as a 15-yard reception by Andrew Hernandez led to a six-yard completion to Brandon Trotter; Eddie Thomas came down with the five-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Aggies within three points of the Golden Lions (13-16). Pine Bluff went with a punt on a fourth-and-one scenario as the Aggie defense allowed only nine yards on the following series. With five minutes left in the game, Truelove sent three passes for 92 yards including, what would be, the game-winning 55-yard touchdown pass to Trotter. Claphan’s PAT went through edging the Aggies ahead 20-16.
Pine Bluff started on their own 29-yard line with 2:41 still to play. The Golden Lions gained 33 yards on 12 plays, and the Panhandle defense put a stamp on the Aggie victory with a sixth and final sack leaving the lions with a 4th-and-13 situation that ended with an incomplete pass and a breakup by Dejon Jeffery. The Aggies assumed the victory formation as the final three seconds ticked down. Panhandle State claimed their first win over an NCAA Division-I program in school history with a final score of 20-16.
Truelove had an impressive performance completing 22 of 34 passes for a total of 228 yards and three touchdowns; the senior QB also added 25 yards rushing. Leading receivers in the game were Andrew Hernandez with seven catches for 80 yards, and Brandon Trotter with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown. Agyeman totaled 73 of the Aggies’ 115 yards rushing; the team totaled 343 yards of total offense. UAPB equaled Panhandles’ performance with 343 total offensive yards, however PB gained the bulk of their yardage in the first half (196 yards) while the Aggies dominated after halftime (257 yards). Panhandle still struggled on third down converting on only 4 of 13 attempts.
Coach Gaskamp commented on the offensive effort stating, “For the second game we didn’t run the ball well and that will be addressed this week in practice. It hurt us losing Rod (Moore) in the first quarter, but it was good to see Cedric (Agyeman) step up and do some good things. Shane (Truelove) played a really good game; he made some tough throws in crunch time with pressure in his face.” He spoke of the receivers adding, “Andrew (Hernandez) played his second great game in a row with a couple of critical third-down conversion catches. Finally, it was great to see Brandon Trotter make the game-winning play; he has worked really hard in practice and he is just a good kid.”
The Aggie defense saw dramatic improvements from last week taking seven tackles for a loss of 57 yards by the Golden Lions; and six pass break-ups and six sacks shattered scoring opportunities for UAPB. Shecari Johnson and Byron Edwards led the team in tackles with 9.5 and 9 respectively. Senior d-lineman John Pitts had a big game with two sacks, two tackles-for-loss and 4.5 tackles. Marcus Jones was responsible for two pass breakups. Pine Bluff’s defense finished with two sacks, four tackles-for-loss and five pass break-ups. For the game UAPB racked up 94 yards on 11 penalties; the Aggies committed four infractions for a loss of 35 yards.
“Our defense played great,” Gaskamp continued. “The biggest difference in the game was out ability to create pressure on the quarterback. The six sacks we created put them in some tough spots and got us the ball back in the second half when we needed possessions to get back in the game.”
After the big win Gaskamp expressed his feelings on the outcome saying, “I am so proud of the guys. We had so many injuries throughout the game; the guys took the “next man up” approach and figured out a way to win. Coming back in the fourth quarter the way we did showed some mental toughness, and should boost our confidence in knowing we can come back if we have to.” He concluded, “It’s a historic win for the program and I hope we can ride the momentum into next week’s game against a good Western New Mexico team.”
The Aggies will enter Lone Star Conference play next week with another long road trip to Silver City, N.M. to meet WNMU, who sits 0-2 on the season thus far. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.-MST.