Late field goal decides game
CLINTON, Miss. - Matt Brasher booted a 37-yard field goal at the buzzer lifting NCAA Division II Mississippi College to a 27-26 victory over Cumberland Saturday, Sept. 24 at Robinson-Hale Stadium.
Cumberland missed three extra points in the game - one left, one off the right upright and the last one without an attempt after a bad snap - but converted a two-point conversion in the first quarter to overcome one of the missed points. Brasher also missed a 37-yard field goal attempt on the first play of the final period, but converted a 26-yard try later in the fourth quarter before the final three points on the last play of the game.
"I knew coming in we couldn't give up the big play," said CU head coach Donnie Suber.
"They got three of 'em in the first half -- a couple of long passes and then their guy went a long way on the jet sweep.
"But once we settled down we played fine. Mississippi College did a great job moving the ball and keeping our offense off the field.
"The kids played hard, we just came up short."
CU quarterback Dez Huntley finished 14-of-19 passing for 202 yards and rushed 20 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns.
He did fumble once in the red zone, but led an 88-yard drive on six plays to put CU ahead with 61 seconds remaining.
After his 13-yard scoring run, the bad snap got away and Trey Harris picked it up for the Choctaws, going the other way for what appeared to be a tying two-point conversion, but Austin Chaplin ran all the way across the field and tracked down Harris from behind to give the Phoenix defense a chance in the final minute.
Sharone Wright led Mississippi College 44 yards on nine plays, scrambling for a first down at the 20 that set-up the 37-yard boot from Brasher. Michael Hodges, Jr., did an outstanding job of getting the hold down for the kick and it sailed straight through the uprights.
Cumberland rushed for 262 yards on 42 attempts and amassed 472 yards of offense. Kendall Johnson carried seven times for 87 yards and Michael Green finished with 102 yards receiving on seven receptions, including a 43-yard catch on the first play of the final drive.
Wright completed 14-of-23 passes for 179 yards and two scores, both in the first quarter. Marcel Newson made seven catches for 91 yards and one score also rushed for 76 yards and another TD for the Choctaws.
The two teams combined for 292 yards and four touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the contest, but things calmed down in the final three periods.
Newson returned the opening kickoff 58 yards and four plays later, Wright tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Chakel Gates for a 7-0 lead just 2:21 into the contest.
Cumberland answered in just three plays, with Johnson rushing 63 yards around right end on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later Kris Parker bulled one yard for the touchdown, but the PAT went wide left.
The Choctaws scored even quicker on their next possession, with Wright hitting a wide open Newsom on a double move down the right sideline for a 64-yard touchdown throw and a 14-6 advantage for the home team just four minutes into the contest.
The Phoenix came right back though, marching 64 yards on seven plays, all runs. Huntley carried five times on the drive, including four straight plays to end the possession, going three yards for the score. He hit Marcus Bryson in the back corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion, knotting the score at 14 midway through the opening period.
Mississippi College held the ensuing possession for more than six minutes, but a bad snap in the shotgun, a false start penalty and then an incompletion on a pressure by Justus Dauscha forced a fourth and long that the Choctaws did not convert.
Newson broke loose down the left sideline for a 75-yard TD run on the first play of the next Mississippi College possession for a 21-14 lead.
Cumberland was held on fourth down at the Choctaws' 36-yard line on the ensuing drive and the teams traded punts before the home team moved to the CU17 late in the second quarter. A holding penalty and a deadball personal foul on Mississippi College pushed the ball back and Dauscha forced a fumble on a sack, with Aaron White recovering with 2:57 remaining before the half.
Huntley rushed for 12 yards and hit Lorel Morton on a 17-yard gain on the first two plays. He then found Green for an 18-yard catch-and-run. Johnson caught a 12-yard swing pass and with the ball on the MC12, Huntley dropped back and broke a tackle in the backfield, raced around right end and dove into the end zone with 42 seconds remaining in the half. The PAT nailed the right upright and the Phoenix went to intermission trailing, 21-20.
Cumberland took the opening drive of the second half right down the field, moving 69 yards on eight plays, including a 32-yard catch-and-run from Huntley to Morton, but Huntley fumbled on the MC8, ending the possession.
"The kids were upset after the game," Suber said, "but I told them there needs to be some good carryover from this game. They played their butts off against a good Division II team."
Cumberland hosts the University of Pikeville 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 at Nokes-Lasater Field.