Field goal nicks CU, 27-24
Saturday, November 1, 2008
LEBANON, Tenn. – Lukas Gonzalez kicked a 45-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining, his second of the fourth quarter, giving 22nd-ranked Shorter College a 27-24 victory over Cumberland Saturday at Lindsey Donnell Stadium in a game that had more momentum changes than is usually seen in an entire season.
 
Shorter (7-2, 5-1 MSC, 2-1 West Division) held the Bulldogs on a 4th-and-1 just over midfield with six minutes to play in the final period. The Hawks moved inside the CU 25-yard line and fumbled, but got the ball back with just under three minutes remaining and marched down the field to set up the final score.Fullback AJ Cooley did the bulk of the work, rushing three times for 20 yards to get the ball inside the 30-yard line.
 
A delay of game penalty pushed the ball back to the 28, but Gonzlaez booted the 45-yarder through the uprights after he hit a 47-yarder with 9:01 remaining in the contest to tie the game at 17.
 
Momentum shifted in the contest at the drop of the hat, including a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by CU’s DaJuan Manning after Gonzalez’s 47-yarder tied the game. But Shorter’s Chris Chapman took the ensuing kickoff back 75 yards to the six yard line before Cooley punched it in on the first play. The teams both scored in a matter of 27 seconds on the clock.
 
The teams combined for four turnovers, two for each club, including a pair of fumbles by Shorter and another that bounced all around before SC quarterback Ben Williams fell on it.
 
Shorter dominated the time of possession, holding the ball almost 15 minutes longer than the Bulldogs, and threw just three passes, with the only completion on third down on the drive that tied the game at 17. Cooley was held in check most of the game by CU, carrying 26 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams rushed 20 times for 60 yards.
 
Big plays kept the Bulldogs in the game. Travis Carter took a short pass and beat the defense to the corner, going 63 yards on the second offensive play for a 7-0 CU advantage early in the first quarter. Carter lost his shoe at the 15-yard line but kept on chugging to the end zone.
 
Cooley scored his first TD of the contest in the first quarter on a two-yard run, capping a 13-play drive. The extra point snap was bad and ended up in Gonzalez’s hands, who rushed around left end for a two-point conversion.
 
Michael Hinson put the Bulldogs back ahead with a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter, though Cumberland missed a chance for more after recovering a fumble on the Shorter 14-yard line.
 
The Hawks scored on another two-yard Cooley run midway through the second period to take a 14-10 advantage to halftime.
 
The Bulldogs had another big play midway through the third quarter to take the lead. J.T. Majors had second and third and fourth efforts on a run to the right, breaking tackle after tackle en route to a 58-yard scoring run and a 17-14 CU lead.
 
Cumberland had a chance to add to the lead late in the quarter, driving inside the 20 before Matt Eads threw a costly interception. Shorter’s Budd Keith made a diving catch at the front of the end zone to halt the drive.
 
Gonzalez tied the game with 9:01 remaining in the game with a 47-yarder that had plenty of distance. Then the teams exchanged the long kickoff returns after the field goal.
 
After Shorter tied the contest at 24, the next Bulldogs drive reached the Hawks 48 and a 4th-and-1, but Majors was stopped cold at the line for no gain. Shorter took over and marched to the CU 22, but Dennis Stanley fumbled and Todd Holman recovered for the Bulldogs.
CU did not gain a first down and an unsportsmanlike penalty on the home team pushed the ball back to the Cumberland 21. After Michael Hinson’s 44-yard punt, Shorter took over with just 2:44 remaining and patiently drove down the field to set up the game-winning field goal, capping a 10-play drive with Gonzalez’s 45-yarder.
 
The loss puts Cumberland in second place in the MSC West Division and needing a victory in two weeks over Lambuth to claim a share of the division crown.
 
Cumberland hosts Kentucky Christian next Saturday at Lindsey Donnell Stadium at a special start time, Noon.