Bulldogs drop 14-13 decision to No. 6 UC
LEBANON, Tenn. – Mike Moore caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and Mitch McChurch scored from two yards out, but a missed extra point in the fourth quarter ending up being the difference, as Cumberland dropped a 14-13 decision to sixth-ranked Univ. of the Cumberlands Saturday at Lindsey Donnell Stadium.
The first half of Saturday’s game was played in a steady rainfall on what was already a very wet and sloppy field. The weather conditions improved in the second half but the field was very chewed up, especially between the 20’s.
Cumberland held the top-ranked offense in the nation to just 275 total yards, including only 142 on the ground. Univ. of the Cumberlands entered the game averaging more than 500 yards of offense and more than 300 rushing per contest.
The Bulldogs were undone in the end by four interceptions from freshman quarterback Christian Burnett, who entered the contest late in the first quarter after an injury to starter Curt Bureau. Burnett tossed three of the picks in the fourth quarter, the final one on the last play of the game.
CU was also hurt by seven penalties, which all seemed to come at inopportune times. The Bulldogs also fumbled four times but lost just one.
Burnett finished the contest 11-for-24 for 118 yards and one touchdown, while Bureau was 3-of-5 before exiting after taking a hard hit late in the opening period. Cumberland rushed 27 times for just 61 yards in the contest.
Univ. of the Cumberlands had 50 rushes for 142 yards in the contest, but the Bulldogs kept fullback Coheleach Holmes under control with 37 yards on 10 carries. UC quarterback Jay Bright carried 20 times for a net of 22 yards.
On a very wet and sloppy field, neither team could muster much offense, but big plays were the order of the first half.
The Patriots’ Jay Bright hit Willie Gibson in the back corner of the end zone with a 34-yard touchdown with 6:05 left in the first half, capping a seven-play, 72-yard drive. But UC’s Andrew Carr missed the extra point, keeping the score, 6-0.
Cumberland managed only 78 yards of total offense in the half before Burnett led a scoring drive in the final two minutes of the half. UC went for a fourth down just inside midfield with 1:24 left in the second period and failed on the play, turning the ball over to the Bulldogs.
Burnett hit Moore on a 28-yard completion, with Moore making the grab in a crowd. Three plays later Burnett and hooked up again, this time for a 24-yard touchdown pass, with Moore stepping in front of the defensive back and dragging him into the end zone from the two yard line. Nick Sasser booted the extra point through for a 7-6 CU advantage at the half.
Field position played a huge role for both teams in the second half. After an exchange of possessions, the Patriots took the ball on the CU 40-yard line and moved quickly for a score. Justin Pritchett took a sweep around right end and dove for the pylon and a touchdown with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Julius Moore took a sweep to the right for the two-point conversion, giving Univ. of the Cumberlands a 14-7 lead.
The Bulldogs took advantage of great field position early in the fourth quarter after a booming punt by Sasser trapped the Patriots inside their own five yard line. Josh Crouch fielded the UC punt and returned it to the 31 yard line.
Mitch Reynolds caught a short pass from Burnett and turned it into a 15-yard play, dragging defenders along the way. Five plays later McChurch dove into the end zone, but Sasser’s extra point was wide right and the Bulldogs trailed by a point with 10:07 left in the fourth period.
The Bulldogs got the ball back with three minutes left in the contest after a Chris Simpson interception in the end zone, but Eric Tisdol’s interception sealed the win for the Patriots, who remained perfect this season.
Cumberland opens play in the Mid-South West Division next week at Bethel Univ. at 6 p.m.