August 26, 20171st2nd3rd4thFinal
Bluefield College730717
Cumberland Univ.0717024
Scoring
1st Quarter
BLUETD10:06Martin 1 Yd Run (Griffith kick)
2nd Quarter
CUTD11:01Toliver 8 Yd Pass From Huntley (Travecedo kick)
BLUEFG00:43Griffith 32 Yd
3rd Quarter
CUTD11:52Rushin 6 Yd Run (Travecedo kick)
CUTD05:14Huntley 6 Yd Run (Travecedo kick)
CUFG01:54Travecedo 37 Yd
4th Quarter
BLUETD07:53Hughes 32 Yd Pass From Harold (Griffith kick)
Stats at a GlanceBLUECU
1st Downs1821
3rd Down Conversions9-188-17
4th Down Conversions1-42-2
Passing (Comp-Att)195 (13-32) 149 (12-27)
Rushing (Att)127 (43) 265 (55)
Total Yards322414
Penalties3-178-72
Turnovers13
Fumbles Lost01
Interceptions12
Possession26:0633:54
Big third quarter leads football to opening victory
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Big third quarter leads football to opening victory
Joseph Rushin carries six yards for the TD early in the third quarter in CU's 24-17 victory Saturday over Bluefield. (Credit Steve Wampler)

LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland scored 17 consecutive points in the third quarter, including six-yard TD runs from Joseph Rushin and Dezmon Huntley, and the Phoenix defense allowed just 116 yards in the second half in a 24-17 season-opening victory over Bluefield College here Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field.

Cumberland took advantage of a bad snap on a punt on the first Bluefield drive of the second half, moving 22 yards on just three plays. Rushin’s six-yard TD run gave the home team a 14-10 advantage.

Huntley completed 17 and 31-yard passes to Marcus Bryson on the next Cumberland possession and capped the eight-play, 85-yard drive with a six-yard TD.

The ensuing kickoff died in the north breeze and bounced away from the Bluefield returners. A mad scramble followed and the ball was finally recovered by CU’s Denarius Toliver at the Bluefield 35.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the ball back to midfield and drive stalled at the 21, but Pablo Dongarra Travecedo booted a 37-yard field goal to push the lead to 24-10.

The Rams racked up 206 yards of offense in the first half but managed just 36 through the third quarter and into the final period. The visitors found a rhythm early in the fourth quarter though, moving 81 yards on seven plays.

Quarterback Walter Harold completed 3-of-5 passes on the drive and also rushed for 16 yards. His slant-and-run to Jeffrey Hughes covered 32 yards, cutting the Cumberland advantage to 24-17 with 7:53 remaining.

Bluefield got the ball back after a punt, but Harold went for the big play and was intercepted by David Emanuel at the CU20. The Phoenix ran out the clock from there, moving 48 yards on 15 plays over the final 6:17.

Rushin converted two third downs and a fourth down on the ground and Huntley’s five-yard completion to Ladarius Rodgers got just enough for another first down. Rodgers finished with five catches for 55 yards and had two drops in the first period.

Huntley posted 149 yards passing on 12-of-27 and tossed two interceptions. He also rushed 15 times for 63 yards and a score. The Cumberland running game combined for 265 yards on the ground, including 76 by Kris Parker and 73 for Telvin Rucker to go with 35 by Rushin and 27 from Kimlee North.

Walter completed 13-of-30 passes for 195 yards and one TD. Bluefield rushed for 99 yards in the first half in building a 10-7 edge but finished with just 127 on 43 attempts.

The Rams broke through first in the game thanks to a 54-yard catch-and-run from Harold to Antonio Strickland. Alex Martin carried the final yard on the next play and Bluefield took a 7-0 lead with 10:06 left in the first quarter.

Cumberland managed just 44 yards of total of offense and Huntley was 0-for-5 passing because of a pair of drops in the opening quarter.

Parker rushed three straight times for 23 yards on CU’s first drive of the second period, starting a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Huntley’s 19-yard completion to Bryson converted 3rd-and-3 and he found Parker in the flat for a four-yard gain for another first down.

Huntley tossed an eight-yard TD pass to Denarius Toliver in the back right corner of the end zone to cap the drive. The PAT tied the score at seven with 11:01 left in the half.

Bluefield answered with its longest drive of the first half, marching 66 yards on 17 plays. The first 11 plays of the drive were on the ground covering 54 yards. Malik Brown then converted 4th-and-2, but a busted play pushed the ball back to the CU16. Harold’s pass on fourth down near the goal line was knocked down by Tyler Tate, giving the ball back to the home team.

But the Rams defense came up with a turnover on the ensuing drive, pressuring Huntley into an interception by Devon Jackson, setting up Bluefield at the CU41. The visitors moved 26 yards on nine plays before Tanner Griffith booted a 32-yard field goal for a 10-7 Bluefield lead at the half.

A miscue to open the third quarter helped Cumberland retake the lead. A bad snap on the punt for the Rams forced an incomplete pass and set-up the Phoenix at the Bluefield 22-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the Rams moved to the ball to the six and Rushin carried the final yards for the TD and a 14-10 edge.

That started the 17-point barrage in the quarter for the Phoenix, carrying them to victory.

Cumberland hits the road next Saturday to face the University of the Cumberlands at 6 p.m. CT in Williamsburg, Ky.