BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union football team suffered another tough defeat Saturday as visiting UVa-Wise spoiled the Bulldogs' Homecoming with a 14-10 decision in Mid-South Conference East action on Saturday.
The loss drops Union to 3-6 overall and 0-3 in MSC East play, while UVa-Wise improves to 3-7 overall and 1-3 in league play.
This matchup went contrary to how the series has generally gone. In the previous 12 matchups, only once did the teams combine for less than 58 points. The Cavaliers' 14-10 victory nearly edged UVa-Wise's 21-6 win over Union in 2006 as the lowest scoring affair in series history. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still own an 8-5 series lead with UVa-Wise winning the last two matchups.
As the score indicates, offense was in short supply as Union narrowly outgained UVa-Wise 251-243 in total offense. The Cavs won the battle on the clock as they held possession for 33:48.
Connery Swift led the UVa-Wise ground attach with 83 yards on 29 carries, most of which came in the second half. At the half, the Cavs had only seven yards rushing but finished with 72. Culen LaVoi completed 17-of-31 passes for 171 yards.
For Union, Rob Brown led the way with 90 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Mike Brinkley passed for 126 yards on 13-of-27 passing.
All of the scoring took place in the first half with UVa-Wise scoring on the game's opening possession. Swift capped the eight-play, 67-yard drive with a 4-yard run to put the Cavs up 7-0 with 10:38 left.
Union also scored on its opening drive with Alex Peebles hitting his first field goal of the year, a 34 yarder to make it 7-3 UVa-Wise with 8:04 remaining in the first.
Late in the period, Bert Brown came up big for Union, intercepting a pass on the Union 30 and returning it 33 yards to the Cavalier 37. A face mask penalty on UVa-Wise gave Union the ball on the Cavalier 22, and three plays later, Rob Brown ran the ball in from 4 yards out to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead with 2:25 to play in the first.
Midway through the second, UVa-Wise pieced together a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive to take the lead for good. The drive appeared to have been halted by another Bert Brown interception, but Union was flagged for passing interference to keep the Cavaliers' hopes alive. Swift scored his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard plunge to put the Cavs up 14-10 with 8:12 to go in the half.
From that point on, the defenses took over.
Union's best scoring chance in the second half came on its second possession of the third when it started on the UVa-Wise 45. Facing third-and-3 on the Cavalier 26, the Bulldogs fumbled the ball with UVa-Wise pouncing the loose ball to end the threat.
UVa-Wise never really threatened to score again until its final possession of the game. Prior to that possession, the Cavaliers never got any closer to the end zone that Union's 38. However, UVa-Wise took over on downs at the Union 20 with 1:35 to play. But after four straight running plays, the Cavaliers turned the ball back over on downs at the Bulldog 12 with 19 seconds left to play.
Union tried one last ditched effort to pull out a victory, but the Bulldogs' dreams died at the UVa-Wise 39.
Bert Brown put together a solid game in the secondary as he finished with four total tackles, one for a loss of 2 yards, an interception and five pass breakups. Zach Eagler added nine total tackles with two going for a loss of 12 yards and sack, while Chris Pinnock had nine stops with two going for a loss of 3 yards.
Union returns to action next weekend when it visiting No. 2 Georgetown (Ky.) at 1:30 p.m.