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Pikeville, KY – After firing out of the gate in the first half to take a 21-0 lead, UPIKE football fell behind to Cumberlands Saturday afternoon by a final score of 41-38 after an impressive comeback effort by the Patriots in the second half.

The Bears played one of their best halves this season early on in the homecoming contest, scoring all 38 points against a Patriots team that has spent most of the season ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA poll. UPIKE’s defense was lights out for the opening periods, holding Cumberlands to under 200 yards of offense.
UPIKE finished with a slight edge in total offense (489 yards – 431 yards) and time of possession (31:14 – 27:43). In the end though, the Patriots striking ability in the red-zone that was the catalyst for the second half surge as the Pats went 6-6 inside the 20.

The Bears defense built a wall in the first and second quarters, forcing four turnovers and a pair of three-and-outs from the Patriots offense. The defense filled the stat sheet, finishing with four sacks that cost Cumberlands a total of 45 yards. Sophomore linebacker Jacquez Russ had a season-high 14 tackles in the contest, also recording his first sack which backed the Pats up 20 yards.

Jonathan Morton recorded 10 total tackles while Seneca Fuller Jr., Tyler LyttleCameron Miller, and Will Thompson all finished with a sack.

Success was simply in the cards early on for Lee Kirkland who threw for five touchdowns in the first half, aided by excellent field position secured by the Bears defense and special teams play. Kirkland finished the day with a career-high 391 yards through the air, also connecting for a career best five touchdowns.

Alexander Shelton was a magnet for Kirkland’s arm during the Bears hot stretch, racking up five grabs in the first half alone. The senior finished with a season-high 110 yards receiving and added a pair of touchdowns. Also having a career day was sophomore wide-out D’Andre Stafford who had 130 receiving yards and a touchdown which came in the final minutes of the second quarter.

The special teams unit for UPIKE was a highlight and once again impressing was Chris Dublin who totaled 108 yards in five kick-off return attempts.

Overall the Bears controlled the passing game, besting the Patriots with 391 yards to their 189. The run game went all in favor of the Patriots through as they accumulated just under 250 yards on the ground.

After controlling time of possession and momentum in the first half, the tide shifted quickly out of the locker room as the Patriots marched 53 yards in just over two minutes for a touchdown. The Patriots recouped 20 points of the deficit in the third quarter but still trailed by four heading into the final period.

After the teams traded possesions to start the fourth, Cumberlands took their first lead of the contest with a quick-hit 1:29 long drive after starting on the Bears 43. The Patriots had a three point lead with plenty of time left in the game, leaving the Bears with room to work. UPIKE managed a solid drive that amassed 43 yards but were halted by a Patriots fourth-down stop.
Cumberlands completed their comeback and sealed the deal, stretching a 12-play, 55 yard drive to end the fourth quarter.

UPIKE football caps the 2021 campaign with a pair of road contests against Cumberland University and Thomas More, starting against the Phoenix next Saturday, November 6th at 2:30 PM.

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