BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - No. 10 Union College opened the 2009 campaign firing on all cylinders as it rolled to a 57-7 Mid-South Conference East victory over visiting No. 21 University of Virginia's College at Wise Saturday.
The Bulldogs (1-0 overall, 1-0 MSC East) scored on five of their first six possessions in building a 36-0 halftime lead.
"It's good to see (how our team came out and played) because you know never how your kids are going to react in the first game of the year," said Union coach Tommy Reid. "I'm really pleased with our offense, really pleased with our defense, and our kicking game was really good as well. The team just came out and played well today."
The loss dropped UVa-Wise to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in MSC East play.
Union dominated both sides of the ball, outgaining UVa-Wise 574-224 in total offense. The Bulldogs had a balanced attack with 278 rushing yards and 296 passing yards. In addition, the Bulldogs held possession of the ball for 38 minutes and nine seconds, leaving the Cavaliers with the ball for just 21:51.
"That's one of our goals. We want to be multi-dimensional," Reid said. "I think today was a very good example of that."
Despite only playing in the first half, senior running back Terence Pollock (Orange Park, Fla.) led the ground game with 75 yards and a score on nine carries. Senior Antonio Drane (Louisville, Ky.) ran for 58 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts. All in all, Union used eight different backs as it racked up 278 yards on the ground.
"That's one of our deeper positions. We played with eight backs and all of them did a nice job," said Reid. "They've all got a different running style, so hopefully that'll be beneficial to us."
Sophomore quarterback Mike Brinkley (Anthony, Fla.) completed 18-of-24 passes for 245 yards and three scores, while backup quarterback Bryant Thomas (Cincinnati, Ohio) connected on all three of his passes for 51 yards and a score.
"Both Mike and Bryant did a good job and made good decisions out there for us today. They threw the ball well, and the offensive line gave them plenty of time to work in the pocket," said Reid.
While the offense took care of things on its end, the Bulldog defense came through in a big way. The Cavaliers went three-and-out on its first three possessions and ran only one play on its fourth possession, which ended with a Khambrel Simpkins (Lauderhill, Fla.) interception.
In fact, UVa-Wise had minus-6 yards of total offense in the first quarter and did not record a first down until 11 minute mark in the second quarter. Junior linebacker Brad Fulton (Maryville, Tenn.) recorded two sacks during the first two Cavalier offensive series.
"Our defense did a good job putting pressure on their quarterback and maybe forcing him to throw the ball quicker than he wanted to," said Reid. "Everyone stepped up and did a nice job."
Cavalier quarterback Brad Robbins completed just 16-of-36 passes for 148 yards and had three interceptions.
Twice Union stopped UVa-Wise cold in the red zone as Robbins was intercepted both times. First, senior Kyle Sasser (Lakeland, Fla.) recorded first interception of his career as he snagged the ball at the Union 4-yard line. Sophomore Jacob Crothers (Fort Thomas, Ky.) later picked off a pass in the end zone to squash a Cavalier scoring threat.
Union took the opening kickoff and wasted no time in setting the tone as Brinkley hooked up with Demetrius Hicks (Frankfort, Ky.) for a 48-yard touchdown pass, capping a four-play, 59-yard drive. Chris Bethel (Allensville, Ohio) added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Union lead with 13:25 still left in the first.
With 7:40 on the clock, Pollock busted through for a 15-yard scoring run to up the margin to 15-0. Union then made it 22-0 as Brinkley hooked up with Demetrius Davis (Marietta, Ga.) for a 33-yard touchdown strike with 1:31 remaining in the period.
Brinkley tossed his third touchdown strike early in the second quarter when he hit P.J. Burrowes (Middlesboro, Ky.) for a 10-yard pass. Burrowes had three catches for 34 yards on the drive.
Rob Brown (Daytona, Fla.) got in on the scoring with a 7-yard scamper, pushing the margin to 36-0 with 5:30 to go in the half.
UVa-Wise began the second half with a five-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Hakeem Abdul-Saboor punching the ball in from the 1-yard line, cutting the deficit to 36-7.
However, Union accounted for the final 21 points. Drane scored twice on runs of 1 and 14 yards, while Thomas hit Andrew Smith (Dalton, Ga.) for a 33-yard scoring play to make the final 57-7.
Junior Rolando Dyer (Lawrenceville, Ga.) led Union in receiving with four catches for 73 yards. Burrowes finished with four receptions for 42 yards and a score, while Davis hauled in three for 35 yards. In all, the Bulldog quarterbacks spread the ball around to 12 different receivers.
Defensively, William Roundtree (Ocala, Fla.) led Union with seven total stops and had one sack, while Josh Littleton (Waverly Hall, Ga.) had six tackles. Chris Pinnock (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Terry Young (Orange Park, Fla.) each finished with five tackles.
For UVa-Wise, Abdul-Saboor led the way with 62 rushing yards, while Matt Barbour caught four passes for 39 yards.
Union returns to action Thursday at NCAA Division I Southeastern Louisiana University. Game time is set for 8 p.m. Eastern.