NAIA
NAIA
Football - Sun, Sep. 25, 2016
News Photo
45
VS
49
Cumberlands
Union
Final1234F
Cumberlands (Ky.) (2-3, 1-1 MSC East)71714745
Union (3-1, 2-0 MSC East)77211449
Barbourville, KY
Cumberlands (Ky.)Indv. LeadersUnion
#20 Seph Burke - 99Rushing #11 Chandler Whittlesey - 37
#15 Josiah Robbins - 141Passing #11 Chandler Whittlesey - 323
#10 Jalen Smith - 85Receiving #13 Deyontre Jordan - 120
Cumberlands (Ky.)Team StatisticsUnion
346Rushing Yards 57
141Passing Yards 323
2Turnovers 1
38:45Possesion Time 21:15

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – The comeback kids did it again, but this time the prize was the Brass Lantern.

Union College rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat visiting Cumberlands (Ky.) 49-45 on Saturday to bring home the Brass Lantern – the traveling trophy for this annual rivalry showdown.

"It was a dog fight, back-and-forth, a true rivalry game," said Union head coach Zak Willis after the win.

After trailing by 10 at halftime, the Bulldogs (3-1 overall, 2-0 Mid-South Conference East) bounced back in the third to grab a 35-31 advantage. However, Union found itself down 45-35 with 11:46 to play.

Cumberlands appeared to be in control as it was up 10 and had the ball on its own 12 with 9:41 remaining. Yet, on the very first play from scrimmage, Tyreke Stone (FR/Dadeville, Ala.) picked off a Josiah Robbins pass at the Union 49. Two plays later, Chandler Whittlesey (SR/Columbus, Ga.) hit Kevin Eichelberger (SO/Greenville, S.C.) in the end zone for a 15-yard scoring strike, pulling Union within 45-42 with 9:18 left.

The Bulldog defense halted the Patriots' next drive at midfield, and shanked punt give Union possession on its 35 with 4:38 still on the clock. Whittlesey went back to work, connecting on four consecutive passes to cover the 65 yards. The final completion went to Eichelberger for an18-yard touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 49-45 lead with 3:25 to play.

Cumberlands tried to rally, but facing fourth-and-14 at the Union 43, Robbins pass to Weston Hayes fell incomplete, sealing the Union victory.

"People who are successful are not the ones that don't get knocked down; everybody gets knocked down," Willis said. "It's the ones that just keep on getting up."

Union's running attack went nowhere, gaining only 57 yards on 19 carries. Whittlesey, though, carried the load with his arm, completing 25-of-34 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns.

"We were getting beat up front," Willis said of the offense. "Our line could protect and did a great job for the most part protecting. They couldn't cover our kids out wide, and I realized that at halftime."

Scoring for only 14 points in the first half, the Bulldogs broke loose for 35 points during the final 30 minutes of play.

Deyontre Jordan (FR/Lakeland, Fla.) was a favorite target of Whittlesey as he hauled in six passes for 120 yards and two scores. Darian Patterson (SO/Taylors, S.C.) had five receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Eichelberger pulled down three passes for 39 yards and two scores.

The return specialists also came up huge for Union. Jalen Ashby (JR/Tallahassee, Fla.) returned four kicks for 111 yards, including a 61-yard return. Seth Nichols (SO/Simpsonville, S.C.) returned one kick for 59 yards. Because of the solid returns, Union's average starting field position was its own 44 in the second half and 39 for the game.

"Our kickoff return team did a great job," the Bulldog coach said. "Our special teams coach Brett Banfield has done a phenomenal job. Jalen has got to be the top kick returner in the country right now."

During the second half, Union went primarily with its second line on the defensive front, and the move paid off big time. Justice Bishop (SO/Greensburg, Ky.), Nehemiah Huffaker (SO/Lynch, Ky.), Xeric Griffin (SO/Columbia, S.C.) and Chance Ansardi (SO/Mount Vernon, Ky.) combined for 12 total tackles with Bishop recorded a seven-yard sack.

"We put in our second (defensive line) front in the second half, and they did a great job for us," Willis commented. "They never get their names called, and they may have won this game for us defensively."

Jake Averhart (JR/Corner, Ala.) led the Bulldog defense with a career-high 15 tackles, while Justavious Robinson (FR/Alexander City, Ala.) followed with 10 total stops with one sack.

The loss drops Cumberlands to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in MSC East.

Bulldog Notes

  • This was the highest scoring game in the history of the rivalry. The 94 combine points best the previous mark of 73 (2013).
  • Whittlesey recorded his fifth career 300-yard passing game and his second five-touchdown game. He also became the fourth player to amass over 6,000 career passing yards as he now has 6,127.
  • Jordan leads the team in scoring with six touchdowns – five receiving and one rushing.
  • Cumberlands outgained Union 487-380 in total offense with 346 yards coming on the ground. Seph Burke paced the Patriot ground game with 99 yards on 22 carries. Austin Hatfield ran for 85 yards and three touchdowns.

Up Next

Union travels to Columbia, Ky., on Saturday to face No. 7 Lindsey Wilson. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT.