MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- After No. 11 Cumberland played perhaps its best half of football of the season and mounted a 16-7 lead at intermission, the unthinkable happened and No. 7 Faulkner rallied for 27 second half points to defeat the Bulldogs 34-16 Saturday, Oct. 18 at Billy D. Hilyer Stadium.
With the game seemingly under control, Cumberland lost its quarterback tandem to injury within minutes late in the second quarter.
Reed Gurchiek (elbow) and Broc Loveless (shoulder) both went down late in the half, though Loveless returned briefly in the third quarter -- but was very limited.
"The kids were ready to play," said CU head coach Donnie Suber. "They came out and gave it their all int he first half, then we had some bad luck going into halftime. We had the momentum there and couldn't close the deal.
"It's tough when you lose both your quarterbacks. It put (Justin) Snyder in a bad spot because he's only played in jayvee. Then (Tyler) Burr (safety) got banged up and that limited what we could do on defense. But they played hard and fought right to the end -- that's all I can ask from them."
Cumberland managed just 29 yards of offense in the second half and one big turnover allowed the Eagles (6-1, 2-0) to score the go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter. Terrell Robinson's sweep around the right side went 40 yards for a score with 11:34 left in the third period and on the ensuing possession, Brandon Mallory fumbled, setting up Faulkner at the CU8.
Robinson hit Keithon Redding for an eight-yard TD throw on the first play and despite a blocked PAT, the home team took a 20-16 advantage. Rashad Pargo caught a 16-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter and Faulkner caught the Bulldogs in a blitz later in the period, with Redding taking a bubble screen 30 yards for the final score.
Robinson finished 23-of-37 passing for 239 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 10 times for 86 yards and one score, most of those on scrambles.
Wide receiver Anthony Woodard caught a pair of touchdown passes for the Bulldogs (5-2, 1-1 Mid-South).
The teams traded punts on their first possessions of the game before Faulkner put together a seven-play, 66-yard drive with Robinson completing eight and one-yard throws before an 11-yard TD toss to Gabe Chambers, putting the Eagles ahead, 7-0, with 7:23 remaining in the opening quarter.
Cumberland answered on the ensuing drive, with Gurchiek carrying for 11 yards and completing a 15-yard throw to Trevon Jones and a 19-yard pattern to Blake DeBoard. Two plays later he found Woodard in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown throw, knotting the game at seven with 3:45 to play in the period.
Faulkner marched down the field on the next possession, moving 72 yards on 17 plays, but the drive stalled with two incompletions and a tackle behind the line of scrimmage from Kyle Musice. The Eagles attempted a 32-yard field goal, but the kick was low and blocked by Elvin Vann, with Nathan Jernigan picking up the bouncing ball and getting it to midfield.
The Bulldogs had to punt but the defense held and the Eagles' Phillip Anderson shanked an 11-yard punt, setting up CU at the CU45.
Loveless carried for 12 yards and completed a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 to Woodard. Three plays later Gurchiek hit Woodard for a 20-yard TD pass on a corner route, giving CU a 14-7 advantage. A miscommunication on the kickoff put the Eagles at their own seven-yard line and the defense pushed the home team back, forcing another short punt against the wind. CU took over at the Faulkner 41 and moved inside the five thanks to a face mask penalty on an eight-yard run by Gurchiek.
Michael Green broke a tackle for a four-yard gain on third down, setting up first and goal, but Gurchiek was hurt on first down on a sweep and Loveless went to throw on fourth down but the receiver got tangled up and the quarterback was tackled at the one.
On the first play for the Eagles, Cayman Russell tackled Faulkner's Raquis Hale in the end zone for a safety, giving CU a 16-7 lead with 1:43 left in the half.
Green returned the free kick to the CU45, but Loveless was injured on a running play on second down. Brandon Mallory picked up the first down but two plays later Justin Snyder threw an interception at the Faulkner 14, ending the half.
Linebacker Kyle MUsice led Cumberland with 11 tackles, including two for loss. Nathan Jernigan added 11 stops, including one for loss.
Noseman Cayman Russell was again a force in the middle, accounting for six stops, two tackles for loss -- including a safety, a quarterback sack and he blocked a PAT attempt.
Cumberland hosts Campbellsville University Saturday, Oct. 25 at 1:30 p.m., the Bulldogs first home game since Sept. 20.