The University of the Cumberlands (UC) football team took to the road for the third time this season against #23 Faulkner University. The Eagles were coming in on a 3 game win streak while the Patriots carried a 10 game win streak going back to week 6 of the 2011 season. The Patriots were also looking to continue their success in what would most certainly be the toughest test of the season to this point.
If one thing could be taken from this game, it was that Faulkner was not scared despite being 0-2 the last 2 years against the Patriots and losing both by a combined score of 141-35. With the tempo of the game and the intensity of the players, UC could see they would be in a battle from the opening kick. In a game that had a little bit of everything, UC came away from Faulkner with a 31-27 victory, break the Cumberlands all-time record win record which now sits at 11 games carrying over from the 2011-12 season.
The first half was filled full of turnovers for both teams. The Eagles first 3 drives were cut short by turnovers as they would lose possessions by means of two fumbles and an interception. Unfortunately, UC could not convert on any of these turnovers and continued to struggle to move the ball against a defense from Faulkner who was well prepared for this game. The Patriots would finally find the end zone for the first time after Faulkner's 4th turnover of the game as Terrance Cobb (Knoxville, TN) would take the ball in from 2 yards out for the first score of the game. An extra point by Justin Dyer (Woodburn, KY) would give UC a 7-0 lead. Faulkner would then capitalize on a turnover by UC giving them fantastic field position as Tristin McCathern would take it in from 1 yard out to tie the game at 7-7 a piece in the 1st quarter. With solid defense by both teams forcing both teams to punt or turn the ball over, the score would be 7-7 going into the locker room at halftime.
As the first three drives of the 2nd half would end with punts, Faulkner had a chance to take the lead, but a missed field goal wide left by Jacob Smtih would give UC some momentum into their next drive. After a big halfback pass by Iquan Deed (Montezuma, GA) to Dekeldric Felton (Oglethorpe, GA) for 55 yards, Cobb would find the end zone for the 2nd time to give UC a 14-7 lead. On Faulkner's ensuing possession, a timely error by quarterback Josh Hollingsworth was picked off by Dewaun Harrison (Chickamauga, GA) who would take it 55 yards to pay dirt for another Patriot touchdown, giving UC a 21-7 lead.
Faulkner would convert on a big 4th and 1 at the beginning of the 4th quarter to pull back within a score making it 21-14 in favor of UC. Both teams would exchange punts before UC would go back on the board again as Dyer would connect on a 40 yard field goal to give the Patriots a 24-14 lead. Hollingsworth and the Eagles would not go down quietly as they would convert on a 35 yard pass to end a 5 play 64 yard drive to bring the score to 24-21 with just 4:25 left to play. Terrance Cobb would then make another big play to solidify him as the player of the game offensively for the Patriots as he would return the kickoff 71 yards back to the Faulkner 14 yard line. Three plays later, Cobb would take it from 3 yards out for his 3rd touchdown of the game to make it 31-21 in favor of the Patriots.
Faulkner would score yet again with just 1:49 left in the game on a 24 yard pass to make it 31-27, but a missed extra point would require the Eagles to score a touchdown to take the lead. After kicking it deep, the Patriots would have to put together a drive as Faulkner still had all 3 timeouts remaining. But after a 27 yard run by Cobb and a Faulkner penalty, the Patriots would be able to run the clock out and earn a hard fought 31-27 victory.
This certainly was a defensive heavy game for UC as they were led by their nose guard Nick Smith (Knoxville, TN). Smith had 12 total tackles on the game (9 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Junior Weston Hazelhurst (Clinton, TN) also came up big as he once again had double digit tackles with 10 with 3 being for a loss. Dewaun Harrison also had a huge game with 7 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and an interception he returned for a touchdown. As for the offense, it was once again all about the running game. Terrance Cobb led the way this week with 23 attempts for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns. Surprisingly, Willie Gibson (Abbeville, GA) did most of his damage this week running the football with 5 attempts for 66 yards. The Patriots on the day had 394 yards of total offense.
The Patriots will take to the field this coming weekend on what could essentially be for the Mid-South Conference East title as they head to Georgetown, KY to take on the NAIA #2 ranked Tigers. This is without a doubt the biggest game on both teams schedule as the rivalry has been restored with both teams combining to win 8 Mid-South Conference East and West titles in the last 6 seasons. Look for tensions to be high as this could be what some call the game of the year. Game is scheduled to kickoff at 1:30 pm on Saturday.
If you're unable to go to the game, the game will be broadcasted locally on WEZJ 104.3 FM. If you are out of the listening area, you can always catch Cumberlands football by logging onto www.cumberlandspatriots.com.
For more information on the Patriots football program along with other Patriot athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.
Article provided by Jordan Gossett, UC Multimedia & Athletic Services Graduate Assistant