CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. - Campbellsville blocked three kicks, two by Leon Melvin, as the Tigers outlasted Cumberland 30-27 Saturday night at Finley Stadium.
Wide receiver Stan Warrenhuffman had touchdown receptions of 25, 40 and five yards while Melvin blocked a field goal and an extra point, the latter of which was returned for a two-point conversion after the Bulldogs (1-1) pulled within one point with 6:57 remaining in the game.
Redshirt freshman QB Broc Loveless came off the bench to throw for 164 yards and one touchdown and also ran for a TD for Cumberland. Reed Gurchiek did not return to the contest after an injury in the second half.
"In our first two games, we've had the ball a lot down inside the 20 yard line and did not come away with enough points," said CU head coach Dewayne Alexander.
Cumberland had a field goal blocked in the first quarter and was stopped inside the Tiger five-yard line late in the second period, but Loveless ran 33 yards for a touchdown and Michael Shannon's 24-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter tied the contest at 14.
"This is college football," Alexander said, "we can't take that long to kick the football. You've got to trust the ball will be put down for you. Every team in the league will have a 4.5 guy coming off the edge."
The Bulldogs pulled ahead later in the third period on a 23-yard touchdown pass to James McClain, but Campbellsville pushed across a pair of TDs in the final period. Warrenhuffman had a five-yard scoring catch in traffic early in the quarter, tying the contest at 21, and then had a 40-yard TD reception with 8:34 remaining to put the Tigers ahead for good.
But the Bulldogs answered thanks to the third long completion of the game for Loveless, this one a 47-yarder to DeJeay Woods. McClain's six-yard run pulled the Bulldogs within a point, but Melvin's second block of the game was the difference and Blake Young scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 57 yards for a two-point conversion.
Cumberland had one last chance, but Loveless was sacked and Campbellsville ran out the final three minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs rushed for 170 yards on 49 attempts, splitting the carries evenly between Lemeco Miller, McClain, Loveless and Gurchiek.
Wayne Coffee paced the Tigers rushing attack, gaining 81 yards on 24 carries. Campbellsville quarterback Nathan Cooper finished 22-of-44 passing for 249 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Cumberland took over on downs in the first quarter and moved 60 yards on 15 plays, picking up four first downs along the way, but the drive stalled and Beau Baker's 24-yard field goal was blocked by Jeffrey Demary, keeping the game scoreless.
Campbellsville drove 47 yards on eight plays and again tried to convert a fourth down in CU territory. This time it worked, with Cooper hitting Warrenhuffman for a 25-yard inside screen on the first play of the second quarter. David Hon's extra point was good, giving the home team a 7-0 advantage.
The Tigers struck quickly on their next possession, with Cooper connecting on 15- and 20-yard pass plays to Demetric Ray and Coffee breaking free for a 27-yard scamper. Cooper scrambled and Bobby Leonard made a nice one-handed catch for a five-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Campbellsville lead with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter.
Cumberland moved the ball deep into Tiger territory on its next drive, aided by a 36-yard run from Gurchiek, but he was injured on the play and exited the contest with the CU 1st-and-goal at the three. A fumble on first down cost the Bulldogs one play and Mille and McClain were unable to cross the goal line on runs. Loveless rushed right on fourth down but was tackled for a loss, keeping the score 14-0 Campbellsville.
But the defense forced a punt and CU took advantage, moving 52 yards on four plays. Loveless rushed over left tackle and scampered 33 yards for the touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
Campbellsville drove deep into Bulldog territory late in the half, but on fourth down Cooper was pressured and Connor McChurch, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles, intercepted the pass at the CU 10-yard line. Campbellsville went to the locker room with a 14-7 lead.
Cumberland rushed 26 times for 132 yards in the half and had 159 yards of total offense, but just seven points. The Tigers posted 129 yards through the air and 198 total, with Cooper connecting on 13-of-21.
The teams traded punts to start the second half before Loveless hit a streaking McClain down the right sideline for a 48-yard completion, but the drive stalled and Baker's 25-yard attempt was blocked again, this time by Melvin.
Michael Shannon jumped an out-route to Warrenhuffman on second down on the Tigers next possession, intercepting the pass and returning it 24 yards for the touchdown, tying the contest at 14.
The CU defense forced two more punts by the Tigers, but CU was backed up to its own nine yard line after a delay of game penalty with six minutes to play in the third period. Loveless got the Bulldogs out of the hole with a 40-yard completion to Miller and McClain converted a 4th-and-1 with an eight-yard run. Loveless then hit McClain on a beautiful post-corner route for a 23-yard TD and a 21-14 Cumberland lead.
After an unlucky bounce on a punt pinned the Bulldogs at their own one yard line later in the quarter, Darius Skinner returned a punt 26 yards to the CU 21, setting up the Tigers deep in Cumberland territory for the second time in the second half. On third down Cooper hit Warrenhuffman in traffic for a five-yard score, tying the game at 21 with 12 minutes to play.
Good field position on the next possession set up the Tigers for another score. On 3rd-and-11 Campbellsville caught the Bulldogs jumping the wide receiver screen over the middle and Warrenhuffman ran past all of the defenders for an easy 40-yard touchdown catch, giving the home team a 28-21 advantage with under nine minutes remaining.
Cumberland answered thanks to a roughing the passer call that kept the next drive alive. Loveless then hit DeJeay Woods on a post route for 47 yards to the six and McClain punched it in from there. But the ever-challenging kicking game again came up short, with Melvin blocking the extra point. The ball bounced well up the field and after a scramble, Young picked it up and ran 57 yards for a two-point conversion and a 30-27 Tiger lead.
Campbellsville drove inside Bulldog territory again on the ensuing possession, but Allanté McLemore knocked down a potential touchdown pass to Warrenhuffman, giving the ball to CU.
Loveless delivered a third down pass into Tiger territory to Courtland Styles, but the sophomore was unable to pull it in. Loveless was sacked on fourth down, turning the ball over at the Bulldogs' 30-yard line with just over three minutes play. Warrenhuffman caught a jump ball over the middle in the final minute, converting a fourth down to seal the victory for the Tigers.
"We played hard, but didn't play well enough to win," Alexander said. "We played a good football team tonight and I think this game will wind up helping us down the road."
Cumberland plays its home opener Saturday, Sept. 17, taking on Kentucky Christian at 1:30 p.m. at Lindsey Donnell Stadium-Kirk Field.