WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. - No. 8 Cumberlands (Ky.) used a big second half to take control en route to a 52-21 victory over visiting Union on Saturday to keep the Brass Lantern for a second year in a row.
The loss starts Union off 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the Mid-South Conference East.
Cumberlands (1-0 overall, 1-0 MSC East) scored on its first three possessions of the second half to turn a 21-21 tie into a 17-point cushion. Union came close to scoring again in the fourth, but turnovers kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard. Cumberlands accounted for all 14 points in the final period to make the final 52-21.
Union put together a solid running attack, amassing 306 yards on 48 carries. The Bulldogs nearly had three players with over 100 yards. Junior Leonard Dixon led the way with 107 yards and touchdown on 16 carries, while Chandler Whittlesey ran for 94 yards on 12 attempts. Brian Clark followed with 92 yards on 13 carries.
Whittlesey nearly became the first Union quarterback to rush for 100 yards since Keith Wynn did so in the mid-1990s.
Jon Combs and Whittlesey rotated in and out at quarterback and combinded 106 yards and a score. Combs went 10-for-18 for 73 yards, while Whittlesey passed for 33 yards and a touchdown on 4-of-8 passing.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle as the teams matched each other score for score. Union struck first when Combs punched the ball in from the 1-yard line for 7-0 lead with 9:33 left in the first. Terrance Cobb scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 4-yard run to pull the Patriots even at 7-7 with 5:19 to go in the first.
The Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead with 12:40 remaining in the half. Dixon capped the five-play, 67-yard drive with a 13-yard scamper. However, Cumberlands tied things up again 59 seconds later when Willie Gibson turned a screen pass into a 71-yard scoring play.
With 5:40 to go in the second, Whittlesey hit Diquan Jefferson for a 4-yard scoring pass to give Union a 21-14 lead. The drive was fairly impressive as the Bulldogs moved the ball 76 yards on nine plays in eating up 5:14 off the clock. Whittlesey set up the score with a 29- and 8-yard runs to place the ball on the Cumberlands 4.
Once again, the lead was short-lived as quarterback Adam Craig scrambled 14 yards for the end zone, making it 21-21 with 57 seconds left.
After halftime, everything changed.
Cumberlands took the opening kick for the second half and took a 24-21 thanks to an Al Merrick 26-yard field goal. The Patriots then scored on a Craig 18-yard run and a Cobb 59-yard spring to build a 38-21 cushion with 4:06 to play in the third. Cumberlands tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth to seal the 52-21 decison.
Early in the fourth, it appeared as if Union would cut the margin to 38-28. However, Whittlesey pass was picked off in the end zone.
Cobb finished with 228 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
By the Numbers
- This marks the second year in a row Cumberlands won the Brass Lantern, and it is the seventh time in eight years the Patriots proved victorios.
- Union won the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 31:55. But Cumberlands outgained Union 594-412.
- Cumberlands turned the ball over twice, resulting in 14 points for Union. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times, and the Patriots cashed them in for 14 points.
- Cumberlands leads the all-time series 25-10 versus Union.
- Defensively, Chris Pinnock led Union with 13 tackles, while Ryan Shipley had nine to go along with 2.0 sacks.
The Bulldogs return to action on Sept. 14 when they play host to Faulkner (Ala.). This is Union's home opener. The last time Union and Faulkner played, the Eagles won 95-89 in triple overtime to close out the 2011 season. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.