Bulldogs force seven turnovers
LEBANON -- Broc Loveless rushed for three touchdowns, Blake DeBoard added two more and 21st-ranked Cumberland forced seven turnovers in a 41-9 victory over Belhaven University in the Mid-South Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field.
"It was a team effort," said CU head coach Donnie Suber, "both sides of the ball played well, that's all you can ask for. They gave a great effort."
The Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 Mid-South West) scored 31 points off the seven miscues by the Blazers (2-2, 0-1). Loveless scored on runs of one, 16 and 52 yards and had a 37-yard run that included numerous missed tackles and four defenders hanging off the senior quarterback before he was finally brought down.
DeBoard opened the scoring with a one-yard run and then weaved his way 76 yards on the second play of the third quarter for another TD. Cumberland finished with 331 yards rushing on 51 attempts, throwing just 16 passes in the contest.
Tyler Burr and Grant Jones each registered a pair of interceptions and Rickey Dowdy had another for the Bulldogs, though Dowdy had another one that he returned 93 yards for a touchdown negated by penalty.
Kendall Trice forced one fumble and recovered another as well as posting a sack to end the first half that knocked out Belhaven quarterback Conner Preston.
Belhaven ran 105 plays and amassed 487 yards of offense in the game, but tossed interceptions twice at the CU 4-yard line and another at the Bulldogs' 31. The first half ended on the sack of Preston with the Blazers at the Cumberland 25 as well.
Loveless rushed 10 times for 128 yards and the three scores and DeBoard added 117 yards on 11 carries. Michael Self also booted a pair of field goals for the Bulldogs and had five of his seven punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Burr's interception at the CU 4-yard line ended the opening drive of the game for the Blazers and the Bulldogs put together a 93-yard drive on the ensuing possession.
DeBoard rushed 12 yards on the first play and Reed Gurchiek found Michael Green down the sideline for a 29-yard pass. Gurchiek then turned a busted play into a 33-yard gain to the one-yard line, setting up DeBoard for the rushing TD and a 7-0 Cumberland lead midway through the opening quarter.
Belhaven turned the ball over on downs on its next drive at the CU31 and Self's punt pinned the Blazers at their own seven-yard line for its next possession. The visitors drove 55 yards on 13 plays this time but Jones ended the drive with another interception at the CU 4-yard line.
The Bulldogs were forced to punt again but Trice forced a fumble at the Belhaven 40-yard line on the next drive, with Jones recovering. On the first play Loveless rushed 37 yards, breaking numerous tackles and carrying four defenders before finally going to the ground. Two players later Loveless sneaked over the top for the one-yard score and a 14-0 CU lead with 8:10 left in the half.
Belhaven had another long drive on its next possession, moving 69 yards on 14 plays thanks to a huge CU penalty. On 4th-and-6 at the CU14, Dowdy picked off a pass over the middle and ran it back 93 yards for a score, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Blazers the ball back and a first down. The defense held, though, a huge stop for the unit, forcing a field goal that cut the Cumberland lead to 14-3.
Belhaven got one last chance with the ball before intermission, moving to the CU25 in the final minute, but the Blazers had no timeouts. Two short passes went incomplete and another to the end zone was out of bounds. On the final play of the half, Trice sacked Preston, knocking the quarterback out of the rest of the contest.
DeBoard rushed 76 yards for a score on the second play of the third quarter, avoiding defenders from behind for the final 30 yards and a 21-3 advantage. Burr intercepted his second pass of the day on the next Belhaven possession and after a 26-yard completion to Anthony Woodard, Loveless took a quarterback draw 16 yards for the touchdown and a 28-3 lead early in the third period.
Self booted 25- and 23-yard field goals later in the period before a 52-yard TD run by Loveless early in the fourth quarter, with the senior carrying a defender the final five yards.
Cumberland hits the road for four straight contests starting Saturday, Sept. 27 at Bluefield College.