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Bulldogs face Pikeville on return trip to Appalachia
Sep 29, 2012 12:00 am
By ANDY REED
Cumberland's trip to Appalachia last week went well enough for the Bulldogs to hope for a repeat this weekend.
After a 24-17 win at Virginia-Wise last Saturday, the Bulldogs will repeat the trip, with an extra 35-40 minutes tacked on, for Saturday's 12:30 p.m. CDT kickoff at Pikeville. The Bulldogs even plan to stay at the same hotel as last week.
When they arrive in the eastern tip of Kentucky, the No. 19 Bulldogs [3-1] will find a 3-2 Pikeville team in a similar position. It is an out-of-division Mid-South Conference game which can figure heavily in the NAIA poll, if not the MSC standings.
"These games could prove big at the end of the season depending on how your divisional games turn out," Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander said. "To have an opportunity to play more than 11 ballgames, these games out of conference do make a difference.
"On top of all of that. An 11-game schedule is all you're guaranteed to play. It's the next game on our schedule and you spend all those days around the year for a chance to play only 11 times. It's a chance to play a college football game. I don't care in division, out of division, we got one chance to play these guys so we want to go and play hard and see if we can win."
Pikeville also owns a win over Virginia-Wise 38-20 two weeks ago. The Bears are led by senior quarterback Trevor Hoskins [6-foot-3, 205 pounds], who has completed 43 of 77 passes for 765 yards and seven touchdowns with four interceptions.
"He's a big kid, very accurate arm," Alexander said of Hoskins. "He's been very productive for them the last couple of years. They have a couple of tall wide receivers. They do a good job of running and passing the football."
Pikeville runs a four-man front similar to what the Bulldogs have seen the last couple of weeks.
"They have a big front seven," Alexander said of the Bears' defense.
But Pikeville's special teams will bring new wrinkles for the Dawgs to deal with.
"They'll onside kick and run reverses," Alexander said. "They'll do some things on special teams that we haven't seen and have had to prepare hard for this week."
Alexander was pleased with the Bulldogs' running game at Wise.
"We played hard and we controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides," Alexander said. "Anytime you can have over 300 yards rushing in a game, you're controlling the line of scrimmage. We ran the ball well, moved the ball well. Defensively, we stopped them from running, we held them to under three yards per carry. We averaged over six yards a carry.
"We had too many penalties... That's something we can't afford this week. Penalties and turnovers in any ballgame will neutralize anything else in a ballgame. And we want to get more turnovers defensively... This time last year we forced 10 turnovers, I think we have only three that we've forced at this point."
Cumberland will leave center Dalton Burge and right tackle Tucker Cathey at home with ankle injuries. Fourth-year junior Grant Theall [5-10, 258] will take over at center and classmate William Judson [6-7, 302] will play right tackle. Both have plenty of playing experience.
"We're replacing experienced players with experienced players," said Alexander, who added true freshman defensive back Fredrel Cross broke his wrist on the opening kickoff last Saturday and underwent surgery earlier this week. Harding-transfer Anthony Knight, a transfer from Harding who has been sidelined with a pulled hamstring all season, has been cleared to play special teams and to be a backup on defense."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at email@example.com