BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - No. 10 Union College continued to impress on defense as the Bulldogs posted a 44-6 victory over visiting Faulkner (Ala.) University Saturday.
The Bulldog defense kept the Faulkner offense off the scoreboard and held the Eagles to 181 yards in total offense on 65 plays. Faulkner managed 12 first downs with only three coming during the first three quarters.
"I am really proud of our defense. They really stepped up and came to play for us today," said Union coach Tommy Reid. "It didn't matter who was in there for us, everyone on defense played a big role for us in the win. I couldn't have asked for more out of our guys on defense."
Meanwhile, Union racked up 550 yards in total offense with 318 coming through the air and 232 on the ground.
Senior tailback Antonio Drane (Louisville, Ky.) had a career-best 135 yards on 20 carries to lead the Union ground attack, while sophomore quarterback Mike Brinkley (Anthony, Fla.) completed 23-of-42 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
Once again, Union dominated the time of possession, hanging on to the ball for 35 minutes and 57 seconds. Yet, the Bulldog offense sputtered at times, especially inside the red zone. Union converting just 4-of-7 chances inside the Faulkner 20-yard line with two of the missed opportunities being missed field goals and the other ending in an interception on the Eagle 4-yard line.
Union took the early lead with a 40-yard field by Chad Boyington (Stockbridge, Ga.) with 10:34 to go in the first. Brinkley hit P.J. Burrowes (Middlesboro, Ky.) for a 15-yard scoring strike on a fake field-goal attempt. After the PAT, the Bulldogs led 10-0.
With 13:04 left in the half, Faulkner notched its lone score when J.T. Barker picked off Brinkley and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was no good, leaving the score at 10-6.
The Bulldogs scored twice more in the second quarter to take a 24-10 lead into the half. Brinkley hook up with Sean Mackey (Reddick, Fla.) for a 21-yard scoring play, while Peanut Manns (Ocala, Fla.) punched the ball in on an 8-yard run.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldog defense got in on the scoring act. Junior defensive back Lee Miles (Ross, Ohio) picked of a Trey Martin pass and returned it 46 yards for a score to make it 31-6 with 14:13 to play.
Brinkley and Burrowes hooked up once again on 10-yard scoring play. The PAT was blocked by Q Braswell, keeping the score at 37-6 with 4:16 left.
Then, with 3:30 remaining, Armond Smith (Stone Mountain, Ga.) intercepted a pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to make it 44-6.
Faulkner nearly scored an offensive touchdown as they had the ball first and goal at the Union 3 with under 30 seconds to play. But the game ended as Joe Scott threw three incomplete passes.
Mackey led Union with five catches for 60 yards and a score, while Burrowes hauled in four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Rolando Dyer (Lawrenceville, Ga.) pulled down three passes for 104 yards.
Defensively, Jacob Crothers (Fort Thomas, Ky.) led the way with six total stops and three pass breakups. Chris Pinnock (Cincinnati, Ohio) had four total tackles as did Miles who returned an interception for a touchdown, had a tackle for a loss and broke up another pass.
The Union defensive line did a good job getting pressure upfront as Faulkner was held to just eight yards rushing on 19 carries while recording 11 tackles for a loss and five quarterback hurries.
"Our defensive line did a great job. I couldn't name everyone who contributed up front because it was everyone who lined up for us," Reid said. "This just got the job done for us today. It all started up front for us on defense."
Offensively for Faulkner, Joe Scott came into the game late and completed 12-of-22 passes for 113 yards with one interception. Oliver Pollard led the Eagles with four catches for 54 yards. Jurell Williams led Faulkner's ground game with eight yards on six carries.
Union (2-1 overall, 1-0 Mid-South Conference East) returns to action Thursday when it will pay MSC East rival Georgetown (Ky.) College a visit. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
- Antonio Drane entered the season with 261 career rushing yards; however, he has already eclipsed that in only three games this year as he has ran for 276 yards on 47 attempts.
- Mike Brinkley has now thrown three or more touchdowns in nine of his 15 games as a Bulldogs. He has 39 for his career, tying him for second most in program history. He trails only Joey Waters' mark of 66 touchdown passes.
- The Bulldog defense has allowed only seven points against NAIA opponents. Also, NAIA opponents have only scored a total of 13 against Union this season.
- The Bulldog defense has scored three defensive touchdowns already this season. Union only had two defensive scores in 2008.
- Union is averaging 40.3 points per game, which is well ahead of the pace it had last season when it set the school record for points in a season. In 2008, Union tallied 369 total points in 12 games for a 30.8 point per game average.