BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The fight was there, but it just wasn't enough to push Union to victory as visiting Webber International (Fla.) pulled out the 20-19 decision on Saturday.
The loss drops Union to 0-3 on the year, while WIU improves to 2-2 overall.
Trailing 19-14 with 2:32 to play, the Warriors took over on their own 41. A 36-yard pass to Larry Jackson and a 12-yard completion to Mitch Choquette moved WIU to the Union 6. Larry Gaskins gained four yards on first-and-goal but lost a yard on second down, making it third-and-goal at the 3-yard line.
Cameron Joseph's pass to Corey Jackson fell incomplete, forcing the Warriors into a fourth-and-goal situation. Joseph had better luck on fourth down as he hit Kody Sallis just inside the end zone with 28 seconds to play. WIU went for the 2-point conversion, but the pass failed to keep it a 20-19 game.
The Bulldogs were pinned deep in their own territory at the 16 to start their next drive. A 20-yard pass to Domonique Jefferson and a 2-yard scramble by Chandler Whittlesey got Union to its own 38. Facing fourth down with 1.4 seconds on the clock, Whittlesey heaved a desparation pass, but it was picked off by Steven Willis at the WIU 20 to seal the one-point decision.
WIU outgained Union 411-312 in total offense. Joseph threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-21 passes, while Billy Pavlock completed 5-of-7 passes with one interception for 93 yards and a score. Pavlock also led the Warriors in rushing with 55 yards on nine carries. Chioquette caught five passes for 96 yards, while Larry Jackson hauled in five balls for 82 yards.
Defensively, Willis was everywhere for the Warriors as he made 19 tackles with 2.5 going for a loss of 8 yards to go with the game-ending pick.
For Union, Whittlesey complete 9-of-18 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 32 yards and a score on eight carries. Leonard Dixon notched his third 100-yard game with 104 on 21 attempts. Jefferson pulled down four passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan Shipley and Curtis Yates led the Bulldog defense with 13 tackles apiece, while Jake Johnston followed with 12 stops including two going for a loss of 11 yards and a sack.
After a scoreless first quarter, Union got on the board first when Alonzo Collins picked off Pavlock and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. After the PAT, Union led 7-0 with 14:51 to go in the half.
On its next possession, Union took a 13-0 advantage as Whittlesey hit Jefferson for 34 yards and a score with 9:08 left. The Bulldogs went for two, but the attempt came up short.
WIU responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive, capping it off with a 29-yard scoring pass to Trevor Steinke to make it 13-7 at the 6:19 mark in the second.
The Warriors took the lead in the third when Joseph hooked up with Corey Jackson for a 14-yard scoring strike. After the PAT, WIU led 14-13 with 10:01 remaining in the period.
It remained a one-point game until late in the fourth when the Bulldogs put together a nine-play, 63-yard drive. Facing fourth-and-goal at the WIU 1, Whittlesey wedged his way through the line for the score. Looking to make it a seven-point contest, Union went for two but again came up short to leave the score 19-14 with 5:20 to play.
Both teams went three-and-out on their next possessions before WIU took over on its own 41 to begin the game-winning drive.
By the Numbers
- Collins pick-6 was the first defensive touchdown for Union since Nov. 12, 2011, when Chris Pinnock returned a fumble 69 yards for a score against Faulkner (Ala.). It was the first interception returned for a touchdown since Pedro Pinckney did so on Oct. 29, 2011, returning it 32 yards for a score.
- Jefferson's four catches gives him 61 for his career. He is the 22nd player to reach the milestone in program history. Jefferson has 61 catches for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns.
- Dixon is the first Bulldog to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive games since Armond Smith did so during the 2010 season. Smith rushed for 312 against Bethel (Tenn.) on Oct. 9, 2010, 126 against Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) on Oct. 16, 2010, and 109 versus Belhaven (Miss.) on Oct. 23, 2010.
- Dixon has more than half of the team's rushing yards, accounting for 358 of the team's 678 yards.
- Shipley is the team's top tackler with 34 on the year, 13 more than any other Bulldog.
Union hits the road next week when it pays UVa-Wise a visit. Game time is set for 6 p.m.