Bulldogs fall in tough one, 27-14
LEBANON, Tenn. – Despite four turnovers and 18 penalties, Cumberland had the ball twice in the fourth quarter on the Virginia-Wise side of the field but could not convert, as the Bulldogs dropped a 27-14 decision to the 11th-ranked Cavs Saturday at Lindsey Donnell Stadium.
The game was full of momentum-changing plays, but the mistakes cost the Bulldogs badly in the contest, especially an inordinate amount of false-start penalties. Cumberland was called for 18 penalties totaling 149 yards in the contest, and probably half were of the false-start variety, putting the offense in big holes despite good field position in the second half.
Despite all of the penalties as well as a pair of interceptions and two fumbles, the Bulldogs trailed by just seven points until late in the final quarter. CU got the ball at its own 45 after a fumbled punt early in the fourth period, but the drive quickly stalled and Michael Hinson pinned the Cavs at the second yard line.
The following drive really took the heart out of the Bulldogs, as UVA-Wise gained 38 yards on 10 plays, converting a pair of third-downs and eating 5:49 off the clock. But the Cavs harassed CU quarterback Matt Eads on the next drive, much as they did for the entire second half, sacking the senior twice, including on fourth down.
UVAW took over on the Cumberland seven yard line and took four downs before putting the final score on the board, a four-yard rush by Hakeem Adbul-Saboor.
Cumberland’s defense allowed only 366 yards, almost 150 yards before UVA-Wise’s average entering the contest. All-America quarterback Randy Hippeard completed 22-of-35 passes for the Cavs for 276 yards and one touchdown but was sacked five times, including a pair of linebacker Todd Holman.
"Our defense played really well and held a great offense in check, made them punt seven times and got some stops when we needed them," head coach Dewayne Alexander said. "But we just had too many mistakes, too many penalties, and the false-starts really put us in a whole in the third quarter.
"Our team played really hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win the ballgame and that's encouraging. We've still got a lot to play for because we're 2-0 in our division and we've got some big ballgames coming up these next few weeks."
The Bulldogs scored first in the contest, taking over after a short punt at the UVA-Wise 41-yard line. Matt Eads hit Zachery Ducker for 29 yards on the first play and Travis Carter capped the drive with a three-yard run for a 7-0 CU advantage.
The Cavs tied the contest on the final play of the opening period. Hippeard completed a 28-yard pass to Brad Ricker and hit Matt Barbour for 30 yards during the drive. Jyron Barclay dove in from three yards out as the horn sounded, knotting the game at seven.
In the second quarter the Bulldog defense stiffened and got a big turnover, setting up the home team’s second score of the game. Darius Johnson picked off a Hippeard pass and returned it 53 yards to the UVAW 15 yard line. J.T. Majors took the handoff and scampered 15 yards on the first play, putting Cumberland ahead, 14-7.
The Bulldogs had a chance to add another score just before halftime, driving inside the five yard line in the final minute of the half. McClain rushed for 18 yards and Eads completed passes to Carter and Mitch Reynolds, both for 14 yards, on the drive.
But Eads threw and interception in the final seconds of the quarter, as UVA-Wise’s Keith McBride intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 91 yards before Ervin Young made the tackle with one second left, saving a touchdown. Hippeard’s pass in the end zone was knocked down by Johnson, giving the Bulldogs a seven-point edge at the break.
UVAW scored late in the third quarter, as Hippeard hit Aric Evans from 10 yards out for the score. CU was called for illegal participation on the extra point, prompting the Cavs to try a two-point conversion, but Bulldog Corey Willmore broke up the pass in the end zone to keep Cumberland ahead, 14-13.
UVA-Wise took the lead for good on its next possession after an Eads fumble. This time Adbul-Saboor powered his way in from 18 yards and Hippeard’s two-point pass was complete for Barbour for a 21-14 Cavs lead.
Eads ended the contest 17-of-32 for 172 yards and two interceptions. The Bulldogs managed just 85 yards rushing on 32 carries.
Cumberland travels to Belhaven next week for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff before returning home for a three-game homestanding to end the regular season starting November 1 versus Shorter College.