Bulldogs drop finale, 35-7
JACKSON, Tenn. – E.J. Adams caught a pair of touchdown passes and Cumberland failed to convert on first-half scoring opportunities in a close game and the Bulldogs dropped a 35-7 decision to seventh-ranked Lambuth Univ. Saturday at L.L. Fonville Field.
Cumberland (5-6) ends the season with a loss after winning four of its last five games. The Bulldogs missed 28 and 43-yard field goals in the first half and trailed 21-7 at the break. Lambuth scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the second after a fumble on a kickoff.
The Bulldogs started redshirt junior Kevin Smithson at quarterback in the contest, his first career collegiate start. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native completed 19-of-41 for 236 yards, but the Bulldogs were unable to sustain drives and were hurt by penalties.
Cumberland rushed for only 49 yards on 28 carries after averaging 166.4 yards on the ground this season. Ten penalties for 95 yards was also part of the squad’s downfall on a very warm November day.
Lambuth quarterbacks Adam Wiese and Kelvin Martin combined to go 16-for-24 for 188 yards and three touchdowns. The CU defense limited the Eagles to 105 yards on the ground, 69 of that in the second half.
The Bulldogs put together a nice drive in the first quarter, highlighted by a 58-yard connection from Smithson to Mike Moore, the longest completion of the season for CU. But the drive stalled after a sack and Yue Wang’s 28-yard field goal attempt lacked elevation and was blocked, keeping the game scoreless.
Cumberland had another good drive stalled by a holding penalty and Wang’s 43-yard attempt sailed just left.
Lambuth struck for the big play after the missed field goal, with Wiese hitting E.J. Adams over the middle. Cody McCallister missed the tackle at midfield but kept in pursuit, knocking the ball away from behind at the one yard line.
Adams and McCallister battled for the ball in the end zone and the Eagles were awarded the touchdown after simultaneous possession by the two players. Nathan O’Jibway booted through the extra point for a 7-0 Lambuth advantage.
Cumberland was backed up on its next possession, giving the Eagles the ball at the CU 34-yard line. Five plays later B.A. Davis dove in from one yard out for a 14-0 Eagles lead.
The Bulldogs answered on the ensuing possession, driving 72 yards on five plays, including a 32-yard completion to Moore. Travis Carter caught a bubble screen for 14 yards on the next play and then dove in from four yards out on the following play, stretching the ball just inside the pylon and cutting the Lambuth lead in half.
The Eagles answered with an 11-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Wiese to Adams, as the receiver just got his left foot down before being knocked out of bounds. The PAT was good and Cumberland trailed 21-7 at the half.
The teams traded interceptions in the third quarter, both on screen passes, one by CU’s Melvin Armstrong and the other by Lambuth’s Ben Aigamaua. The Bulldogs’ Chris Simpson also forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter, recovered by Stephon Ransom.
Lambuth scored with 4:57 remaining in the contest on a one-yard run by Victor Robinson, capping a 15-play, 64-yard drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock.
Lemeco Miller fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Lambuth took just one play to score, a 31-yard pass from Kelvin Martin to 6-foot, 6-inch Rodrick Jefferson for a 35-7 Eagles lead.