BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - It had been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait as Union defeated visiting Cumberlands 24-19 Saturday to bring home the Brass Lantern for the first time since 2005.
The Patriots won the last five meetings and still own a 23-10 lead in the series. However, it was the Bulldogs' time to shine on Saturday with the five-point victory to improve to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in Mid-South Conference West play.
"It's an awesome feeling," said Union head coach Tommy Reid on getting the win. "It's obviously a big rivalry game and our kids have been jacked up about it all week, and to be able to come out on top is an awesome feeling."
The loss drops Cumberlands to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in MSC West play. The Patriots have now lost three games in a row.
Union's defense came up huge all afternoon, stopping Cumberlands four times in the red zone in six attempts. Twice the Bulldogs came up with big fourth-down stops in the red zone, and on two other occasions, Union picked off the Patriots deep in its territory.
"The first thing I said to our guys after the game, 'Time and time again, our defense bailed us out.' When we had to have big plays, they came up with them," said Reid. "Gosh, I'm tickled to death with their effort."
The Bulldog defense limited the Patriots to 300 yards in total offense with 188 yards coming on the ground. Cumberlands turned the ball over three times and went 4-of-11 on third down.
Senior linebacker William Roundtree (Ocala, Fla.) led the way with 11 total tackles with one going for a loss of four yards. He also picked off a pass inside the Bulldog 10, preventing a potential Patriot touchdown.
Conversely, Union racked up 434 yards in total offense with sophomore quarterback Ryan Moses (Williamsburg, Ky.) going 18-of-24 for 310 yards and three touchdowns, both of which are career highs.
"Ryan's gotten better every week," said Reid. "And if he continues that we'll be in good shape.
Union hits the road next week when it takes on Bethel (Tenn.) in another MSC West battle. Game time is set for 5 p.m.
Tied at 7-7 in the second, Cumberlands grabbed the lead thanks to a Justin Pritchett 7-yard run. Justin Dyer's PAT attempt sailed just wide left to keep it a 13-7 contest with 1:47 to play in the half.
Undaunted, Union pieced together a nine-play, 83-yard drive to seize the lead just before halftime. Moses hit Domonique Jefferson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) on a fade route in the left corner of the end zone from the 6-yard line with 17 seconds on the clock. After Chad Boyington's (Stockbridge, Ga.) PAT, the Bulldogs led 14-13 at the half.
Moses went 5-for-5 passing for 59 yards and ran for 14 more on the scoring drive.
On its first possession of the second half, Union found itself starting on its own 12. Aided by a personal foul penalty on the Patriots and a 33-yard pass to Tyler Ross (Pensacola, Fla.), the Bulldogs moved the ball down to the Patriot 3. Union settled for a Boyington 20-yard field goal to up the margin to 17-13 with 6:19 to play in the third.
Facing third-and-5 on the Union 40 on its next possession, Moses hit a wide-open Jefferson down the left sideline for a 60-yard scoring strike to put the Bulldogs up 24-13 with 2:15 left in the third.
Midway through the fourth, Cumberlands began to mount a comeback. Forcing and recovering a fumble, the Patriots took over on their own 24. A 39-yard pass to Deyonte Shannon quickly moved Cumberlands down to the Union 37. After a 27-yard pass to Stroub, Shannon ran the ball in from 10 yards out to make cut Union's lead to 24-19 at the 6:06 mark. The Patriots went for 2, but the quarterback was sacked on the conversion attempt.
The Bulldogs appeared to be on their way to a score to seal the win as they were moving the ball quickly down the field. However, Jared Stippert stripped the ball from a Union runner on the Cumberlands 32 and returned it to the Union 20 with 3:19 to play.
Cumberlands faced a fourth-and-2 from the 12 when it was called for a false start. Then, on fourth-and-7 from the 17, Isiah Anderson (Boston, Mass.) sacked Andrew Brunnert for a 6-yard loss, giving the Bulldogs the ball on the Union 23 with 1:40 to go.
A Rob Brown (Daytona, Fla.) 10-yard run gave Union a first down at the Bulldog 35, and Union was able to take a knee three times to wrap up the five-point win.
Moses hit nine different receivers with Demetrius Hicks (Frankfort, Ky.) leading the way with four catches for a 107 yards. Josh Winkle (Christianburg, Va.) had three for 24 yards, while four Bulldogs had two catches, including Jefferson who hauled in two for 66 yards and two scores.
Brown led the ground game with 65 yards on 17 carries and had two receptions for 29 yards. Chandler Priest (Loganville, Ga.) pounded his way to 33 yards on six attempts.
Union struggled early on offensively, collecting just eight yards on 15 plays in the opening quarter. But in the second period, the Bulldogs reeled off 192 yards and scored 14 points to take a one-point edge into the half.
After Roundtree, Jacob Crothers (Fort Thomas, Ky.) led Union defensively with eight tackles and one interception, picking off a pass at the Bulldog 2 to save a potential Patriot score. Fred Brown (Jacksonville, Fla.) helped out with six total tackles and a sack.
For Cumberlands, Phillip Wells and Terrence Cobb led the Patriot ground game with both rushing for 44 yards. Brunnert completed 5-of-11 passes for 89 yards.