35-7 IN 2009 SEASON FINALE
JACKSON -- Close just doesn’t count for much in football. umberland failed to convert on two golden first-half scoring opportunities as the Bulldogs dropped a 35-7 decision to No. 7-ranked Lambuth Saturday at L.L. Fonville Field. oach Dewayne Alexander’s squad finished the season 5-6 overall after winning four of its last five games.
The Bulldogs missed 28 and 43-yard field goals in the first half and trailed 21-7 at intermission.
"We had two scoring opportunities there in the first quarter set up by our passing game, but came short on a couple of field goal attempts," Coach Alexander said. If we could have converted those two opportunities right there, if would have made a big difference."
Lambuth was able to punch in a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, the second after a fumbled kickoff return.
"We ran out of gas a little bit," said CU head coach Dewayne Alexander. "We had some injuries, some guys banged up coming into the game and had a few more get hurt as the game went along."
The Bulldogs started redshirt junior Kevin Smithson under center, the Chattanooga native’s first career collegiate start.
The converted tight end completed 19-of-41 for 236 yards, but the Bulldogs were unable to sustain drives and were hurt by penalties.
"I thought Kevin came in today and played well in his first start. He made some mistakes, but that’s a difficult situation to be thrown into. He did a nice job, we’re really proud of him," Alexander said.
Cumberland rushed for only 49 yards on 28 carries after averaging 166.4 yards on the ground this season.
Ten penalties for 95 yards was also part of the squad’s downfall.
Lambuth quarterbacks Adam Wiese and Kelvin Martin combined to go 16-for-24 for 188 yards and three touchdowns.
The CU defense limited the Eagles to 105 yards on the ground, 69 of that in the second half.
The Bulldogs put together a nice drive in the first quarter, highlighted by a 58-yard connection from Smithson to Mike Moore, the longest completion of the season for CU.
But the drive stalled after a sack and Yue Wang’s 28-yard field goal attempt was low and was blocked, keeping the game scoreless.
Cumberland had another good drive stalled by a holding penalty and Wang’s 43-yard attempt sailed just left.
Lambuth struck for the big play after the missed field goal, with Wiese hitting E.J. Adams over the middle.
Cody McCallister missed the tackle at midfield but kept in pursuit, knocking the ball away from behind at the one yard line.
Adams and McCallister battled for the ball in the end zone and the Eagles were awarded the touchdown after simultaneous possession by the two players.
Nathan O’Jibway booted through the extra point for a 7-0 Lambuth advantage.
Cumberland was backed up on its next possession, giving the Eagles the ball at the CU 34-yard line ball just inside the pylon and cutting the Lambuth lead in half.
The Eagles answered with an 11-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Wiese to Adams, as the receiver just got his left foot down before being knocked out of bounds. The PAT was good and Cumberland trailed 21-7 at the half.
The teams traded interceptions in the third quarter, both on screen passes, one by CU’s Melvin Armstrong and the other by Lambuth’s Ben Aigamaua. The Bulldogs’ Chris Simpson also forced a fumble early in the fourth quarter, recovered by Stephon Ransom.
Lambuth scored with 4:57 remaining in the contest on a one-yard run by Victor Robinson, capping a 15-play, 64-yard drive that took almost seven minutes off the clock.
Lemeco Miller fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Lambuth took just one play to score, a 31-yard pass from Kelvin Martin to 6-foot, 6-inch Rodrick Jefferson for a 35-7 Eagles lead.