LEBANON -- Josh Hollingsworth completed 34-of-53 passes for 486 yards and three touchdowns as 19th-ranked Faulkner University ran away in the second half with a 44-7 victory over No. 25 Cumberland Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Bulldogs (4-3, 1-1 Mid-South West). The CU defense was able to force three field goals in the first half to keep the game close, but the Eagles (5-2, 1-1) scored four second-half touchdowns to put the game away.
Faulkner led 16-0 at the half after a 20-yard touchdown pass to Donald Spencer late in the second quarter. The Eagles scored four touchdowns over the final 19 minutes of the game, as the Cumberland defense began to wear down because of 96 offensive plays run by the Eagles.
The Bulldogs managed just 33 yards of offense in the first half but put together an eight-play, 59-yard drive late in the third period, capped by an 18-yard TD pass from Reed Gurchiek to Michael Green, cutting the deficit to 23-7.
Faulkner answered with a 46-yard scoring pass to Steven Dawson, concluding a 71-yard drive, and added a 32-yard weaving TD run by David Amos on the club’s next possession to put the game away. Jordan Veasy’s three-yard touchdown catch from backup QB David Cochran was the final scoring of the game.
Broc Loveless led Cumberland with 14 rushes for 45 yards and also caught three passes for 12 yards. Michael Nwokoji managed only four yards on 10 attempts before leaving with an injury. Gurchiek finished the day 12-of-20 passing for 95 yards and the one score.
Dawson finished with nine receptions for 108 yards and one touchdown while Stevenson grabbed six passes for 123 yards and one score. Stevenson also had a long TD catch negated in the first half by a holding call as well as a taunting penalty on the receiver.
Faulkner drove right down the infield on its opening drive of the game before stalling inside the CU15. Hollingsworth passes to Trump Harrison and Dawson were incomplete on second and third down and Cameron Golob booted a 29-yard field goal for a 3-0 Eagles lead with 9:22 to play in first quarter.
Kelepi Nau intercepted a Gurchiek pass on CU’s next drive, giving Faulkner the ball at the CU48, but the Bulldog defense stiffened and forced a punt, though the Eagles downed the ball at the three-yard line.
Cumberland converted a first down on the next possession, with Gurchiek sneaking on 4th-and-inches from the Bulldog 13-yard line. That drive too ended with an interception, this one by Faulkner’s Marte Sears at the CU32.
Running back Triston McCathern caught a 13-yard pass on first down, but a drop in the end zone and another incompletion forced a second field goal, this one from 34 yards, for a 6-0 advantage.
Hollingsworth completed four straight passes for 36 yards to start an Eagles drive in the second quarter and McCathern rushed twice for 11 yards to the Cumberland 28. A fumble by Hollingsworth pushed the ball back, but his completion to Dawson gave the Eagles 1st-and-goal at the one-yard line.
A false start penalty moved the ball back again and Faulkner settled for its third field goal, from 23 yards, for a 9-0 edge with 7:27 left before halftime.
Cumberland tried a fake punt on 4th-and-14 from its own 31 later in the period, but Loveless was tackled short of the first down, giving the Eagles another short field.
A pass interference call set-up Faulkner at the CU14 and on third down Spencer outdueled Anthony Knight in the back of the end zone for a 20-yard TD reception and a 16-0 advantage headed to intermission.
Cumberland’s Cayman Russell forced a fumble on Faulkner’s first drive of the second half, recovered by Devin Guthrie, but Loveless tossed the third interception of the game by Bulldog quarterbacks to end the drive, with Donny Ruggles picking off the throw at the Faulkner nine-yard line.
Late in the period the Eagles struck for the big play, with Hollingsworth connecting with the 6-foot-4 Stevenson for a 52-yard touchdown and a 23-0 lead with 3:52 left in the period.
Cumberland hits the road for the first time in a month Saturday, Oct. 26, traveling to Campbellsville University for a 1:30 p.m. Central Time kickoff.