BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Union College put together a dominating second-half performance to upset visiting No. 24 Malone (Ohio) College 35-28 Saturday, extending the Bulldogs win streak to four games.
"It was a total team effort," said Union coach Tommy Reid. "Offense struggled in the first half and the defense kept us in it. In the second half, the offense just took over and picked up our defense."
Union is off to its first 2-0 start since 1994 when it went 7-3. Malone is now 0-1.
Trailing 28-21 at the half, Union struggled offensively during the first 30 minutes. The Bulldogs had the ball for only 12 minutes and 15 seconds and amassed just 91 yards in total offense. Meanwhile, the Pioneers ate up 17:45 off the clock in the first while racking up 285 yards.
But it was a different story in the second half.
The Bulldogs dominated the third quarter, hanging on to the ball for 12:59 in the period. Taking the opening kick of the half, Union ate 8:19 off the clock while march 65 yards in 15 plays in tying the game at 28-28. Mike Brinkley (Anthony, Fla.) hit diving Kyle Callahan (Covington, Ky.) in the left side of the end zone at the 6:40 mark.
After forcing Malone to go three plays and out, Union continued its ball-control offense. Taking possession with 5:05 on the clock, the Bulldogs mounted an 11-play, 77-yard drive. Brinkley capped the march with a 19-yard scoring pass to Rolando Dyer (Lawrenceburg, Ga.) for a 35-28 lead with 27 seconds remaining in the third.
Union continued to eat up the clock in the fourth. After reeling off 47 offensive plays in the first half, Malone had the ball just three times in the second half with drives of three, seven and eight plays.
With 5:16 remaining, the Bulldogs got the ball on their 23-yard line and appeared to be on the move to seal the win with a field goal. Instead, Union just chipped away at the clock, executing 11 plays in running out the clock to capture the 35-28 victory.
Another telling stat for the Bulldogs was third-down conversions. Union was 1-of-5 on third-down conversions in the first half but finished the game 9-for-15 after going 8-of-10 in the second half.
Union had the ball for 34:21, marking the second game in a row it had over 34 minutes in time of possession. In spite of the large edge in time of possession, Malone outgained Union in total offense 353-297.
Despite throwing two first-half interceptions, Brinkley finished the game 17-of-25 for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Callahan tied a 22-year-old record with three touchdown catches as he pulled down four passes for 39 yards. He joins Albert Pellingrino as the only Bulldogs with three touchdown receptions in a game as Pellingrino accomplished the feat against Lambuth (Tenn.) University in 1986.
Terence Pollock (Orange Park, Fla.) had just 69 yards rushing but 58 came in the second half. Darrell Taylor (Louisville, Ky.) helped out with 23 yards on four carries. Ben Kelly (Cold Springs, Ky.) had a good all-round day seven yards rushing and 53 yards receiving on six catches.
Senior Willie Williams (Miami, Fla.) had 14 total stops, a sack and a blocked punt to lead the Bulldog defense. Marekus Smith (Lithonia, Ga.) and Jeremy Agbomi (Cincinnati, Ohio) each had eight total tackles with Smith recording 2.5 tackles for a loss and forcing a fumble.
Freshman wideout Chris Thomas (Hopkinsville, Ky.) was a real star of the game. He returned five punts for a total of 51 yards, four kickoffs for 87 yards and hauled in two passes for 20 yards, giving him 158 all-purpose yards on the day.
For Malone, Billy Bob Orsagh completed 20-of-35 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Derek Deardorff was the Pioneer quarterback's favorite target as he hauled in 11 passes for 134 yards and two scores.
Joseph Peters led the Malone ground attack with 78 yards and a score on 15 carries, while Maurice Gore ran for 74 yards on 10 attempts.
Defensively, Chris Reynolds was everywhere as he got in on 20 total stops. Andy Bartell helped out with 10 total tackles.
Union's defense put the first points on the board. On Malone's second offensive play of the game, Smith forced a fumble, which Terry Young (Orange Park, Fla.) picked it up and returned 21 yards for a touchdown 21 seconds into the game.
The quick touchdown fueled an explosive first quarter as the score was tied at 14-14 at the period's end. Malone scored off a Deardorff a 2-yard reception and a Peters 2-yard run, while Callahan hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass.
At the 14:53 mark in the second, Deardorff pulled down a 22-yard scoring pass to put the Pioneers up 21-14.
Union tied the game when Brinkley hit Callahan on a five-yard fade with 2:35 on the clock.
However, Malone moved the ball quickly, needing just 51 seconds to move the ball 66 yards in six plays in seizing a 28-21 advantage. Gore caught a 17-yard pass with 1:36 left as Malone took a seven-point edge into the half.
The Bulldogs will travel to Faulkner (Ala.) University next Saturday for a 12 p.m. Eastern date.
This marks the first time Union has enjoyed a four-game win streak since the 1995 season when it went 7-2-1.
Kyle Callahan now ranks ninth on the all-time receptions list with 87 catches. He also has 14 career touchdown receptions, two shy of the program record.
Willie Williams now has 27 total tackles and 3.0 sacks in his first two games as a Bulldog.
Union has now converted four of its opponents' five turnovers into scores, posting four touchdowns from the miscues.
The win was the first one against a team from Ohio since 1994. The Bulldogs are now 12-14 against teams from the Buckeye State all-time.
This is the second win in a row for Union versus a ranked opponent. The Bulldogs defeated No. 17 Georgetown (Ky.) College 28-21 on Nov. 10, 2007.