PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Despite not taking home the win, UPIKE football proved itself as a much-improved team on Saturday in a 24-13 loss to No. 11 Cumberlands.
UPIKE appeared to fans to be the better team in most facets of the game, but just had a couple rough breaks come back to haunt them. The Bears outgained the Patriots by 80 total yards (332 to 242) and ran 25 more plays on offense.
Pikeville scored first after quarterback Trevon Wofford found Robert Sims III for 61 yards and later scored on a 17-yard keeper on third and two. They nearly scored again early in the second quarter, before UPIKE suffered the first of its major bad breaks.
The Bears lined up to attempt a 24-yard field goal, but a bad snap ended up on the hands of the kicker Zaniel Phillips who fumbled the ball after a brutal hit and the Patriots returned the ball for a touchdown to tie the game.
They were able to quickly shake off the demons and get a field goal on the next possession to reclaim the lead at 10-7 which would stand until halftime.
Cumberlands picked off Wofford on the first possession of the second half and scored on the corresponding possession to take its first lead of the game. Pikeville answered again though with another field goal to cut the lead to 14-13.
UPIKE then surprised UC with a pooch kickoff that fell in no man’s land and the Bears were able to recover the live ball to keep possession. That drive would fail to yield any points though.
UC got its second major break to on its first drive of the fourth quarter when what appeared to be a busted trick play turned out to work. The Patriots ran a reverse to a running back who lined up in the slot, then peeled back to throw. His throw was short and fell into triple coverage, but the ball bounced off the litany of UPIKE hands that converged into the hands of a nearby Patriots receiver who ran from the carnage untouched for a touchdown.
The Bears tried to respond from the shock, but couldn’t find enough gas in the tank to mount a comeback.
UPIKE’s two NAIA losses have now both come to teams ranked in the top-15 of the NAIA Coaches’ Poll by a combined 14 points.
Alex Sanders and Derius Gibson split carries out of the backfield and combined for 143 yards. Nyshun Bell led the Bears with nine tackles, while Taeron Brown and Johran Broadnax each had seven.
UPIKE goes on the road next week to face rival Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Toyota Stadium.