Just when Pikeville was about to pass Cumberland out of Nokes-Lasater Field, the Bulldogs used its running game to rally while the defense found some claws to corral the high-flying Bears.
Broc Loveless came off the bench to ignite the Bulldogs and ultimately scored the tie-breaking touchdown in overtime before the defense made the final stops in a pulse-pounding 49-42 Cumberland conquest on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.
Loveless’ 20-yard touchdown run broke the tie before former Tennessee receiver Nu’Keese Richardson caught a pass out of bounds in the end zone while covered by cornerback Josh Walker. Watertown’s Nick Lennox tackled quarterback Anthony Graham on fourth down to end Cumberland’s third straight victory and send the Bulldogs sprinting onto the field in celebration.
Loveless, on third-and-5, faked a handoff to Michael Nwokoji, who ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns, before pulling the ball back. The fourth year-junior from Spring Hill broke a tackle or two before hitting daylight and grass to the north end zone.
“He faked a zone, kept it and took it in and made some people miss,” Cumberland coach Donnie Suber said of Loveless, who came in to share time with Mt. Juliet’s Reed Gurchiek at quarterback. “He does a great job running the zone-read. Both of them have. Reed made some good passes and we need them both.”
Pikeville, looking to break a two-game losing streak coming in, jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and led 35-14 early in the second half as Graham passed for 427 yards and two touchdowns on 32-of-53. Richardson caught a touchdown among his 10 catches for 185 yards while Jordan Amis caught eight balls for 116 yards and a score.
“I wish we could have played the whole game like we did in the second half because in the first half we kind of stunk it up on defense,” Cumberland coach/defensive coordinator Donnie Suber said after his Bulldogs improved to 3-2. “Kids battled back and played hard. We got some momentum and made some plays when we had to. Offense did an awesome job all up and down the field. Reed Gurchiek and Broc Loveless did a great job running the offense and getting points on the board for us.”
Gurchiek, a junior from Mt. Juliet, passed for 54 yards on 9-of-19 with an interception and ran for 51 yards on 13 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter during the comeback.
But Loveless provided a spark off the bench for the second straight week with 112 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. His 68-yard run on his first carry brought the Bulldogs into a 14-14 tie early in the second quarter.
“They’re two different kind of young men,” Suber said of the fourth-year junior QBs. “Broc plays with a lot of enthusiasm. He gets the momentum and gets the guys riled up behind him. Reed’s more of a field manager, can make plays with his foot and his arm.
“We’re just fortunate to have both.”
Gurchiek’s former Mt. Juliet teammate, Nwokoji, scored on a 17-yard run [he also had scoring runs of 32 and 1 yards] put the Bulldogs in front for the first time 42-35 early in the fourth quarter to cap a three-TD tear in 1:19, starting with Gurchiek’s score up the middle and continuing with tackle Simon Moriarty’s 15-yard interception return of a Graham pass which popped straight up into the air off a hit from Lennox.
“Simon’s very athletic,” Suber said. “He’s got a bad back and he’s trying to work through it, play through it.
“He makes plays. He’s a difference maker for us on defense.”
But Pikeville regrouped and scored when Shawntay Zachary recovered Richardson’s fumble in the end zone after catching an 18-yard pass midway through the fourth quarter for a 42-42 tie.
The Bears drove for a winning score late in regulation. But Graham’s pass to Amis in the corner of the end zone was broken up by defensive back Grant Jones.
Some fans may have headed for the exits after Amis’ 6-yard catch from former Marshall quarterback Graham put the visitors up by three touchdowns 2:20 into the second half.
“I would have left if I could,” Suber quipped. “I really didn’t say much. The guys turned it around on their own. We make a play and you get the momentum going and things just get rolling for you and we were fortunate enough to make that happen.”
Cumberland will try to add to its momentum this coming Saturday when Union College comes in for a 1:30 p.m. homecoming kickoff.
Cumberland 49, Pikeville 42, overtime
Pikeville 14 14 7 7 0—42
Cumberland 7 7 7 21 7—49
Pikeville—Nu’Keese Richardson 43 pass from Anthony Graham [Ryan Wilson kick], 11:36.
Pikeville—Jordan Amis 4 run [Wilson kick], 5:23.
Cumberland—Michael Nwokoji 32 run [Beau Baker kick], 4:19.
Cumberland—Broc Loveless 68 run [Baker kick], 12:47.
Pikeville—Graham 20 pass from Jade Haddix [Wilson kick], 9:26.
Pikeville—Seth Millar 12 run [Wilson kick[, :53.
Pikeville—Amis 6 pass from Graham [Wilson kick], 12:40.
Cumberland—Nwokoji 1 run [Baker kick], 7:17.
Cumberland—Reed Gurchiek 9 run [Baker kick], 12:14.
Cumberland—Simon Moriarty 15 interception return [Baker kick], 12:00.
Cumberland—Nwokoji 17 run [Baker kick], 10:55.
Pikeville—Shawtay Zachary fumble recovery in end zone [Wilson kick], 7:57.
Cumberland—Loveless 20 run [Baker kick].
First downs 24 19
—Rushing 6 14
—Passing 16 5
—Penalty 2 0
Rushes-yards 32-79 51-306
Passing yards 447 80
Comp.-Att.-Int. 33-54-2 11-23-1
Punts-avg. 2-45.5 4 47.5
Penalties-yards 7-54 8-60
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-2
RUSHING—Pikeville: Seth Millar 8-23, Jordan Amis 3-21, Avious Griffin 2-11, Anthony Graham 12-11, Bryan Rankin 2-3, Nu’Keese Richardson 2-3, Marquis Terrell 3-2. Cumberland: Michael Nwokoji 25-134, Broc Loveless 8-104, Reed Gurchiek 13-51, Blake DeBoard 2-11, Mario Hill 3-6.
PASSING—Pikeville: Anthony Graham 35-53-2—427, Jade Haddix 1-1-0—20. Cumberland: Reed Gurchiek 9-19-1—54, Broc Loveless 2-4-0—26.
RECEIVING—Pikeville: Nu’Keese Richardson 10-185, Jordan Amis 8-116, Shawntay Zachary 5-55, Avious Griffin 2-33, Shawntez Johnson 2-16, Emmanuel Harris 2-5, Anthony Graham 1-20, Jamon Langford 1-6, Kyle Welz 1-6, Bryan Rankin 1-5. Cumberland: Blake DeBoard 4-40, Michael Nwokoji 2-17, Michael Green 2-5, Taylor Watson 113, Luke Jennings 1-6, Anthony Woodard 1-[-1].