LEBANON -- Cumberland took advantage of four turnovers, turning those into 27 points, but the University of the Cumberlands rushed for 363 yards and posted a 31-27 victory over the 20th-ranked Bulldogs in the season finale for both teams Saturday at Lindsey Donnell Stadium-Kirk Field.
The Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2 Mid-South West) finished with only 226 yards of offense, 84 of which came on three scoring drives after Cumberlands turnovers. CU gained 66 yards on the opening drive of the game but threw an interception near the goalline and recorded only 76 yards the rest of the game on non-scoring possessions.
Terrance Cobb rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Pritchett added 116 and one score and Jordan Allen gained 91 for the Patriots (7-3, 4-2). UC also converted 7-of-14 on third down, including 5-of-9 on 3rd-and-long and a pair of fourth downs, bleeding the Bulldog defense at times with long drives and possessions. The Cumberlands held the ball for just over 34 minutes of the game, including 20 minutes of the second half.
A gusting wind up to 30 miles-per-hour from the south made a huge difference in the contest, with UC scoring a touchdown in the third quarter for the only offensive points by a team going against the breeze. Cumberland still had a chance late in the fourth quarter, driving inside the Patriots 20 before an interception in the end zone on fourth down all but finished CUs chances.
Cobb converted a 3rd-and-5 with just over two minutes remaining with a 39-yard rush and then quarterback Andrew Brunnert dived for a four-yard gain on fourth down with less than a minute left to seal the victory for the Patriots.
Brunnert finished the game 10-of-21 passing for 105 yards, while CUs Reed Gurchiek tossed two interceptions and was 12-for-28 for 122 yards in the contest.
Tim McCord led the Bulldogs on the ground with 70 yards on nine carries. Adrian Baker, James McClain and Gurchiek all rushed for touchdowns for CU.
The Bulldogs fell behind early after two long scoring drives by the Patriots to start the contest.
CU took the opening possession of the game and drove to the UC 17, but Gurchieks throw to Courtland Styles was intercepted by Brenden Kelly near the goalline and returned to the 11. The Patriots took nine plays to go 89 yards and were helped by three offsides penalties on the Bulldogs.
Allen carried for 14 yards and Willie Gibson kept an end-around for 18 yards on a third down. Pritchett rushed for 12 yards before getting the last two as well for a 7-0 UC advantage.
After a three-and-out by CU, Cumberlands went eight plays and 80 yards this time, including 16- and 26-yard completions to Gibson. Allen carried for 29 yards before Cobb got the final eight yards up the middle and UC took a 14-0 edge with 1:04 to play in the first period.
But the change of quarters proved beneficial for the Bulldogs, who took advantage of a fumble by Brunnert to set up CUs first touchdown. Cumberland took over at the UC 16 and gained 10 yards on two offsides penalties. Gurchiek sneaked in from the one-yard line on third down, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
But the Cumberlands answered thanks to a 62-yard run by Pritchett on the first play of the ensuing possession. Two plays later Brunnert dived in from a yard out, making it 21-7 Patriots.
The teams traded interceptions near halftime, with Kelly catching a tipped ball as he fell to the ground at the UC 9, but a halfback pass by the Patriots was picked off by Allant McLemore, setting up the Bulldogs at the Patriots 43.
Gurchiek completed a 25-yard pass to McClain on third down and five plays later McClain ran untouched around left end for the final four yards just 25 seconds before halftime. Cumberland headed to the locker room trailing, 21-14.
Cumberlands scored on the opening drive of the third quarter, going 80 yards in 15 plays and converting one third down and one fourth down. Cobb ran five yards up the middle for the score and a 28-14 UC advantage.
Another Cumberlands mistake set up CUs next touchdown, with Daniel Cotter slipping while fielding a punt. Ben Miller pounced on the football for the Bulldogs and four plays later Baker carried it in for a two-yard scoring run, cutting the deficit to 28-21.
Thats how it stayed until the fourth quarter when another UC mistake helped CU nearly tie the game. A bad pitch from Brunnert put the ball on the ground again and BJ Stewart picked it up and rumbled 51 yards for the score. But Jared Whites extra point was ruled wide left, leaving the Bulldogs a point short on the scoreboard.
After an exchange of punts the Cumberlnads put together a 10-play, 53-yard drive that included three first downs before stalling at the CU15. Justin Dyer booted a 32-yard field goal for the games final points, putting the Patriots ahead, 31-27, with 6:18 to play.
The Bulldogs mounted one last drive, moving 40 yards on eight plays, including a 33-yard catch-and-run by Lemeco Miller. James McClain caught a 16-yard pass and then another near the sideline, but he was ruled out of bounds on the catch
Gurchiek was sacked on third down and his pass into the end zone was knocked down by the wind and McClain slipped down as well.