Fri, Sep. 27, 2013 - [Football]
The University of the Cumberlands (UC) football team came into their 4th game of the season looking to continue its quest for Mid-South Conference (MSC) dominance. It would be a tall test for the Patriots who were going up against a potent University of Pikeville (UPike) offense. Also, the Patriots would have to battle the elements of a road game and the first Thursday night game in school history.
The Patriots were challenged early as the Pikeville offense drove down on its first possession inside the UC 10 looking for the early lead. As would be the story the entire game, the Patriot defense came up with a stop and held the Bears offense to a field goal, giving UPike their only lead of the game at 3-0. The Patriot offense then took to the field behind freshmen quarterback Adam Craig (Jackson, TN), who was coming off of his best game yet as a Patriot two weeks ago against Belhaven. In what is a good sign for head coach John Bland, Craig looked even better as he led UC right down the field on their first possession that was capped off with a Hunter Lewis (Dunlap, TN) touchdown to make it 7-3 Patriots. On the kickoff after the touchdown, Cumberlands' special teams came up huge again as it forced a fumble recovered by kicker Al Merrick (Pineville, KY) at the UPike 38 yard line. UC struck quickly after the turnover as Craig ran it in for a touchdown to make it 14-3 Patriots. Pikeville's offense looked to get in sync on its next drive as it drove all the way to the UC 4 before a 4th down stop by the defense led to a turnover on downs.
In the second quarter, Cumberlands had one of the best drives in football as they went 96 yards on 15 plays that took up 8:00 minutes and UC took a 21-3 lead after a Willie Gibson (Abbeville, GA) touchdown reception. Willie had a game to remember as he broke the UC school record for receptions in a career held by Eddie Miller with his second catch of the game. Gibson now stands all alone with 113 catches in his career. After another Patriot defensive stop, Craig connected with Gibson again on the next drive to make it 28-3 Patriots. UC wasn't done scoring for the half as they drove all the way down to the UPike 18. Al Merrick knocked in a 35 yard field goal to take a 31-3 lead into the half.
For those that follow Patriot football, it is known the third quarter has been when UC really hits their stride, pull away from teams, and seal the deal. This game was no different as UC exploded in the third quarter. After both teams exchanged possessions at the start of the third, UC kicked it in high gear. Craig found the end zone once again as he took it in from 20 yards out to make it 38-3 Patriots. After another 3 and out stop by the UC defense, it was the Patriots punt return team that came up with another huge block as Albert Huntley (Mableton, GA) came up with his second punt block of the season. Zeke Eier (New Carlisle, OH) was the next one to get on the board for the Patriots as he scored to make it 45-3 UC with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd. UC had another huge drive on the Bears that went into the 4th quarter, where Hunter Lewis scored again to cap off a 12 play, 79 yard drive that lasted 6:33 and made it 52-3. After a turnover forced by the Patriot defense, it was Randy Maynard (Pikeville, KY) who had quite the homecoming. Finishing the scoring for UC, it was Maynard who dashed down the sidelines 36 yards for a touchdown to make it 59-3 Patriots. The Patriots finished the game with 59 unanswered points and their best performance of the season.
Head Coach John Bland was very proud of his team as he commented, "This was a great win for our team. We played so hard and seem to be getting better and better each week."
Even though the offense played great, it was the defense this week that set the tone for the Patriots. With a very high powered offense that the Bears have, UC answered the call and gave them fits all night long. UC held UPike to 59 yards rushing and 258 yards passing. The "sharks" were swarming all night long as they forced 5 Pikeville turnovers and smelled blood as they had 4 sacks for 24 yards. They were led by Keontre Walker (Stockbridge, GA) who had 2 tackles for losses with one of them being a huge 9 yard sack.
As for the offense, it was as balanced as they have ever been as they combined for 587 yards of total offense with 475 of those yards coming on the ground. It was a total effort as not one player ran for over 100 yards individually. The Patriots were led by Craig who had 94 yards on 15 carries and 2 touchdowns and also threw for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. Willie Gibson was on the receiving end of those touchdown tosses as he had a total of 94 yards on 6 catches.
The Patriots now turn their attention to the 16th ranked Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders as they celebrate their 125th Homecoming festivities. That game will be at 1:30 pm at James H. Taylor, II Stadium. If you are unable to come to the game you can always watch Patriot home games on www.cumberlandspatriots.com.
For more information on Patriots football, as well as other Patriot athletics please visit our website at www.cumberlandspatriots.com.