By TOMMY BRYAN
ROME, GA -- Cumberland managed to break every wet, shivering heart in Barron Stadium with a thrilling 14-13 come-from-behind win over No. 25-ranked Shorter Saturday, Oct. 31.
Clinging to an 8-7 lead, CU’s secondary blew coverage and allowed an 85-yard scoring pass from Ben Williams to flanker Jordan Hazard with 00:58 seconds left in the game.
Shorter then botched a two-point conversion attempt, leaving the Bulldogs trailing 13-8.
After recovering the short kickoff, Cumberland took the ball down to the 16-yard line and, with 8.6 seconds remaining, quarterback Christian Burnett heaved a third-and-seven pass into the back corner of the end zone where it was snagged by tight end Mitch Reynolds for the game-winner.
Fearing problems on the conversion, Burnett took a knee on the point after.
"The thing I’m most proud of is our guys kept playing," said CU coach Dewayne Alexander, "even after Shorter hit that 85-yard touchdown pass, we played all the way until the very last play of the game as hard as we can play. I couldn’t be more proud of this team."
Alexander described the game-winning play this way.
"We call it Fade - Seam, and we were running it to both sides. But when we put Mike Moore on the left side, the free safety cheated over his way. I told Christian to put Mitch over on the right side.
"He’s 6-3 or more with long arms and 230-something pounds. The corner on his side of the field had a gimpy ankle and we didn’t think he could jump that well. We told Christian to just give your guy a chance to make a play. That’s all you can do right there.
"We had 8.6 seconds left -- we had time for two plays. We got the matchup we wanted and it couldn’t have been a better throw. I don’t know if there’s been a bigger play for the Cumberland football team since I’ve been here. What a great job by our men."
Reynolds played a big part in the Bulldogs first score of the game, a 14-play, 89-yard drive that covered more than six minutes.
A pass intended for Knox Karns graduate was tipped at the line but bounced forward and high in the air. Reynolds caught the pass, broke an tackle and scampered 35 yards before being tackled at the Shorter 18.
Five plays later Ronez Harris found just enough space over the rightside for the score.
Burnett hit Carter on a bubble screen to the right on the two-point conversion, and Carter somehow eluded a pair of would-be tacklers and dove into right at the pylon to give CU an 8-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Reynolds finished with four receptions for 65 yards, while Burnett was 14-for-25 for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Bulldogs rushed 49 times in the contest for 138 yards, holding the ball for more than 33 minutes.
The Cumberland defense held Shorter to 272 yards on the ground, more than 30 below the season average for the Hawks.
The unit also forced five turnovers - three fumbles and a pair of interceptions - including Allante’ McLemore’s pick on the final play of the game and Anthony Allen’s fourth interception of the year on Shorter’s first pass of the contest.
Cumberland, now 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the Mid-South Conference, is scheduled to play Nov. 7 at Kentucky Christian in a Noon CT kickoff at South Point High School in South Point, Ohio.