BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - There was a lot of shaking going on in eastern Kentucky, and it wasn't all due to the 4.3 earthquake felt prior to the Union-Pikeville (Ky.) football game. The Bulldogs overcame a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win 60-59 Saturday in the team's season finale.
"I am really happy for our seniors," said Union head coach Tommy Reid. "It's always good to go out on a win, but the way the seniors and the rest of the team battled back today, I couldn't be happier for them."
Pikeville (3-8 overall, 1-4 Mid-South Conference East) scored on a Zeke White 1-yard run with 1:13 to play in the game, putting the Bears up 59-54. Pikeville tried to make it a seven-point game, but Trevor Hoskins' pass fell incomplete on the two-point conversion.
After 20-yard kickoff return by Keondrick Daniels, Union took over on its own 24-yard line with 1:08 remaining. Senior quarterback Mike Brinkley got the Bulldogs moving in the right direction on the first play of the drive with 32-yard pass play to Deron Hicks, putting Union at the Pikeville 44. Over the next three plays, Union went backward four yards and was facing fourth-and-14 at the Bears 48 when Brinkley hit Diquan Jefferson for an 18-yard pass, giving Union a first down at the 30. Two plays later, Brinkley hit Jared Smith for a 10-yard pass to convert another third down as Union now had the ball on the Pikeville 20. Facing another third-and-10, Brinkley found a streaking Hicks in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown to give Union a 60-59 lead with 8.9 seconds remaining. Union went for two, but Leonard Dixon was stopped short of the goal line, keeping it a one-point game.
On the final play of the game, Pikeville attempted to lateral its way to register a game-winning score as it took over on its own 24. However, on the third lateral, the ball hit the turf and C.J. Hunnicutt pounced on the loose ball to seal the Bulldog victory.
During the Bulldogs' game-winning drive, Union moved the ball 76 yards in 11 plays in only 1:05 seconds.
Brinkley finished with a career-high 401 yards passing and five touchdowns in completing 20-of-42 passes. This was the sixth time he threw for over 300 yards in a game and the 18th time he threw for three or more touchdowns. Brinkley finished the year with 2,082 yards passing, becoming the first player in program history with four 2,000-yard seasons. He ends his career with four of the top eight passing seasons in Bulldog history. Brinkley also owns seven program records: most wins by a starting quarterback (24), most touchdown passes in a game (6), most touchdown passes in a season (32), most touchdown passes in a career (94), most passing yards in a career (9,012), most completions in a career (659) and most pass attempts in a career (1,208).
The 60 points is the seventh most Union has ever scored in a game.
Dixon had a career day out of the backfield, rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 51 yards.
Union finishes the season 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the MSC East.
The teams combined for 1,236 yards of total offense with Union outgaining Pikeville by a 629-627 margin. Union rushed for 228 yards on 28 carries. Pikeville did hold the edge in first downs (30-27). The teams also racked up the penalty yardage as well. Pikeville was flagged 12 times for 114 yards, while Union was hit for 108 yards on 11 penalties.
Bear quarterback Hoskins completed 20-of-34 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns.Jordan Amis hauled in 11 passes for 128 yards, while Jeremy Hill caught five passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. White rushed for 83 yards and two scores on 19 attempts, while Seth Millar ran for 75 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries.
Fans knew they were in store for a wild-and-wacky game with how the first half unfolded. The teams combined for 67 total points as Union led 34-33 at the break, and there was a blocked punt by Pikeville's Lorenzo Larry that rolled out the back of the end zone to result in a safety for the Bears.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Union found itself trailing 53-41. Alex Peebles hit a 27-yard field goal at the 14:52 mark to make it 53-44.
On its next possession, Union benefited from a lucky bounce to cut the deficit to two. Facing third-and-eight on the Pikeville 34, Brinkley hit Dixon for a short dump pass. Dixon broke free and easily got the first down as he made his way inside the 10-yard line. Bear defensive back Brent Davis knocked the ball loose at the 5, but it bounced into the end zone where Daniels fell on it for the touchdown. Peebles nailed the PAT, pulling Union within 53-51 with 9:25 to play.
The Bulldog defense forced Pikeville to go three-and-out on its next possession. Brandon Davis was able to get a piece of Grayson Quick's punt, and Union took over at the Bear 48 with 7:26 remaining. Seven plays later, Peebles drilled a 20-yard field goal to lift Union to a 54-53 lead with 5:08 to play.
Pikeville responded with an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive to take a 59-54 advantage with 1:13 to go. White's 1-yard scoring plunge was set up by a 28- and 27-yard pass from Hoskins.
With only one time out left, the Bulldogs marched 76 yards in 11 plays in 1:05 for the game-winning score.