CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Reed Gurchiek’s Hail Mary pass was knocked away in the end zone, ending a furious second half from both teams and a penalty-filled contest, with Campbellsville holding off Cumberland, 24-19, Saturday at Citizens Bank Field-Finley Stadium.
"We played hard," said CU coach Donnie Suber, "but I told 'em in the locker room that we didn't play very smart. Some costly penalties caught up with us there at the end, we fumbled a couple of times and gave up some big plays.
"The effort is there, the kids are playing hard and I'm proud of 'em."
The Bulldogs (3-4, 1-2 Mid-South West) trailed 17-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but Broc Loveless cut into the deficit with a six-yard scoring run two plays into the final period. Campbellsville drove down the field on the ensuing possession, as Devin Guthrie blocked a field goal by the Tigers.
The Bulldogs fumbled two plays later, though, setting up Campbellsville at the CU15 and three plays later Larry Walls broke three tackles and dived for the front pylon for the score, pushing the lead back to two touchdowns.
Cumberland responded quickly with a 64-yard drive, including a 27-yard scamper from Fredrel Cross. Two plays later Michael Green rushed around right end for a four-yard TD run, making it 24-17 Tigers with 8:20 remaining.
The defense forced a punt and the Bulldogs took over at the CU45 after short punt into a stiff wind. Cross gained 10 yards on third down and Gurchiek completed a 35-yard pass to James Tiencken on fourth down, setting up CU at the four-yard line.
Green lost five yards on another sweep on second down and Gurchiek’s third down pass to Cain Smith near the goal line was incomplete. On fourth down Gurchiek hit Brandon Mallory, but the fullback was pulled down at the original line of scrimmage with 44 seconds left in the game.
Again the defense forced the Tigers back, all the way to the one-yard line, and used a pair of timeouts. On third down Trevon Chatman made a remarkable catch at the 38-yard line, but he was called for offensive pass interference, one of 22 accepted penalties in the contest. On fourth down Campbellsville punter Erik Krivitsky ran around in the end zone before running out of the back for a safety with 13 seconds remaining.
Cumberland tried the Homerun Throwback on the ensuing free kick, just to the other side, with Luke Jennings throwing across to Michael Green, who had a convoy going up the right sideline. He returned the ball 41 yards for the Campbellsville 32-yard line, giving CU one last chance with 3.8 seconds left. But Gurchiek’s pass to the 6-foot-5 Anthony Woodard was knocked away and out of the back of the end zone.
Cross rushed 15 times for 77 yards, but the Campbellsville defense held Gurchiek and Loveless to just 60 yards on 18 carries. Gurchiek completed 14-of-22 passes for 106 yards.
Walls finished with 81 yards on 19 attempts and one TD and Campbellsville quarterback Tajh Milliken passed for 194 yards, completing 14-of-27 attempts.
The Bulldogs moved into Campbellsville territory five times in the first half, but failed to score until the final play before intermission, fumbling twice and turning the ball over on downs once.
Loveless fumbled on 3rd-and-11 at the Tigers’ 43 midway through the opening quarter, though Matt Green recovered at midfield, forcing a punt.
Early in the second period Campbellsville committed a pair of 15-yard penalties and Gurchiek completed three passes, including a 13-yard swing play to Fredrel Cross, pushing the ball to the home team’s 24-yard line. But on the next play Mario Hill fumbled at the 15 and Adam Robertson recovered for the Tigers, ending another drive.
On CU’s next possession two more personal foul penalties on Campbellsville moved the ball to the Tigers’ 25. The drive stalled with a third down sack of Gurchiek, pushing the Bulldogs out of field goal range, and CU turned the ball over on downs with an incompletion on fourth down.
Late in the period Campbellsville had its best drive of the half after a 20-yard completion to Harrington and a 13-yard catch by Gipson, moving to the Cumberland 30-yard line. But on the next play Corey Matyskiela hit running back Larry Walls, forcing a fumble, and Rickey Dowdy recovered, giving the Bulldogs one last chance before the break, taking over with 1:50 remaining.
On third down Gurchiek completed another swing pass to Cross, who got the first down at the CU41, but the Bulldogs were whistled for holding. Cumberland still got a first down after the Tigers were called for their sixth personal foul of the half.
A second personal foul call on the drive moved the ball to the Campbellsville 35, but Gurchiek was sacked on first down. The redshirt junior made up for it on third down, going right up the middle on a quarterback draw for 25 yards for the Campbellsville 13-yard line with 17.5 seconds left. After two incompletions in the end zone, Beau Baker booted a 35-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 3-0 Bulldogs lead at the break.
Campbellsville tied the contest at three on a 37-yard field goal from Will Ward with 6:19 left in the third quarter. Sedric Watson’s 19-yard interception return for a touchdown on the ensuing possession put the Tigers ahead for good.
Chatman returned a punt 30 yards for the Tigers later in the period, setting up another short field, and Milliken found Chatman over the middle from 20 yards for the score and a 17-3 advantage with 2:48 remaining in the quarter.
Cumberland finishes the home schedule next Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. contest against Bethel University.