BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - No. 16 University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) ate up the yardage and the clock as the Patriots upended host and No. 11 Union College 35-28 Saturday in Mid-South Conference East action.
With the victory, Cumberlands improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in league play, while Union dropped to 5-1 on the year and 2-1 in the MSC East.
The Patriots also hold on to the Brass Lantern - the series traveling trophy, for the third year in a row. Cumberlands leads the series with a 21-9 record.
"My hat's off to Cumberlands. They made some big plays on some crucial situations," said Union coach Tommy Reid. "We just didn't make some plays when we had the opportunities. We knew it was going to come down to execution for all four quarters, and we just didn't get it done."
Looking the statistics, Cumberlands dominated as it outgained Union 548-235 in total offense. The Patriots held the ball for 37 minuts and 5 seconds, reeling off 83 offensive plays.
Helping Cumberlands maintain possession was their execution on third and fourth downs. The Patriots converted 10-of-16 third-down situations and was 3-for-5 on fourth down, scoring twice on fourth down. Meanwhile, Union was only 4-for-11 on third down and 0-of-1 on fourth down.
Tied at 21-all heading into the fourth, Cumberlands was facing fourth and 9 to go when Kyle King hit Maurice Berryhill for a 28-yard scoring strike to make it 28-21 with 10:49 remaining. King thread the needle to Berryhill, who was covered heavily by Terry Young (Orange Park, Fla.).
Union countered with a seven-play, 61-yard drive to even the score at 28-28. Mike Brinkley (Anthony, Fla.) held his composure in the pocket as he was being pressured and found Kyle Callahan (Covington, Ky.) open in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 6:57 to play.
Cumberlands wasted no time in responding, needing only four plays to seize the lead for good. King completed back-to-back passes of 15 and 45 yards to put the Patriots down on the Union 4. Two plays later, Freddy West punched the ball in from 1-yard out, giving Cumberlands a 35-28 advantage with 5:38 still on the clock.
The Bulldogs tried to mount one more comeback, moving the ball down to the Patriot 35. On third and 8 at the Cumberlands 35, Brinkley appeared to have hit Demetrius Hicks (Frankfort, Ky.) for a first down or possible a touchdown at the 2-yard line, but Shovon Patton nailed Hicks before he could fully secure the ball. On fourth, Brinkley scrambled away from pressure and found Callahan open, but the pass was just behind the senior wide receiver as the ball went through his hands as Union turned the ball over on downs with 3:16 left.
Union never had possession again as Cumberlands grinded out a pair of first downs to run out the clock.
Cumberlands racked up 316 yards rushing on 68 attempts. West led the way with 106 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while King added 53 yards on six attempts. King also completed 9-of-15 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Berryhill hauled in four passes for 92 yards and a score.
The Bulldogs were held to just 50 yards rushing on 23 tries. Brinkley connected on 13-of-27 passes for 185 yards and two scores. Hicks caught three passes for 42 yards, while Chris Thomas (Hopkinsville, Ky.) caught three for 25 yards.
Defensively, Willie Williams (Miami, Fla.) had a big day as he racked up 18 total stops, forced a fumble, recovered and returned another for a touchdown. Marekus Smith (Lithonia, Ga.) added 11 total tackles with one going for a loss of 2 yards.
P.J. Hughes and Travis Thurmond led Cumberlands defensively with both recording nine total tackles. Eric Tisdol added three stops and two interceptions.
After Tisdol's first interception, Cumberlands scored four plays later when West rumbled 24 yards for the game's first touchdown.
Union answered when Williams recovered a King fumble at the Cumberlands 40 and raced to the end zone to make it 7-7 with 8:09 left in the first.
Cumberlands looked as if it was going to strike back in hurry. Beginning the ensuing drive on the Cumberlands 20, King hit Justin Pritchett who appeared to be on his way for an easy score. But Ty Harris (Monroe, Ga.) caught up with him and stripped the ball away, and Jason Hammontree (Greenback, Tenn.) recovered the ball in the end zone, giving Union possession on its 20.
Midway through the second, Cumberlands did eventually reclaim the lead when King hooked up with Ricky Walker for a 15-yard scoring play to put Cumberlands up 14-7 with 6:39 on the clock.
The Bulldogs quickly answered, marching 74 yards in 10 plays to tie the game with 3:22 remaining. Terence Pollock (Orange Park, Fla.) powered his way in from the 3-yard line to make it 14-14.
However, Cumberlands ended the half with a seven-play, 51-yard drive. Sean Mounts capped the march with a 3-yard run with 16 seconds to go, giving the Patriots a 21-14 halftime lead.
After recovering another Patriot fumble, Brinkley tied the game as he hit Rolando Dyer (Lawrenceburg, Ga.) for a 36-yard touchdown strike. After Jacob Appleby's (Harvest, Ala.) kick, the score was knotted at 21-21 with 10:20 to in the third.
Union returns to action next Saturday when it plays host to Pikeville (Ky.) College in another MSC East tilt. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.
The loss snapped the Bulldogs seven-game win streak as well as their three-game win streak at home and against ranked opponents.
While both teams committed three turnovers, Union made the most of them. The Bulldogs scored 14 points off of the Patriots' miscues, while Cumberlands only netted seven points.
The 18 tackles by Willie Williams is the most by a Bulldog since Patrick O'Neal had 20 versus Georgetown (Ky.) College on Nov. 10, 2007.
Jacob Appleby remains perfect on the season on PAT kicks as he is now 26-for-26.