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Bulldogs roll past Bluefield, return to top 25
Nov 07, 2012 12:00 am
Miller sets touchdown record
By ANDY REED
Cumberland is probably not headed to the NAIA playoffs, but the Bulldogs still turned in an A-game in a Senior Day Saturday 49-0 win over Bluefield at Nokes-Lasater Field.
Quarterback Reed Gurchiek was named Mid-South Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after completing 14 of 16 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns and adding 25 more yards and a score on the ground. Backup Broc Loveless hit 6 of 7 throws for 91 yards and a pair of scores.
Running back Lemeco Miller led Cumberland's 253-yard attack with 62 on 16 carries, including a pair of touchdowns which vaulted him to a school-record 20 for the season, one more than Andrew Yarbrough's 1998 total.
And setting up the offense was a defense which held the first-year Rams to 113 total yards. Fifth-year safety Michael Hagewood, one of 27 seniors honored before the game, intercepted two passes.
"We didn't play sloppy after the tough loss we had last week [32-30 at Bethel which essentially knocked the Bulldogs from the playoff race]," Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander said after his Bulldogs improved to 7-3 for the season and 3-2 in the Mid-South Conference West Division. "You're worried about this week and our guys saying 'hey, we don't have to play hard' and all that stuff. Our guys really practiced well this week. They handled themselves like you would expect a team with 27 seniors to handle themselves."
After holding Bluefield to a three-and-out, Cumberland drove 60 yards to Miller's 12-yard touchdown run on fourth down, which tied Yarbrough's 14-year-old mark.
Bluefield got an extra series when Cumberland muffed a punt. But the Bulldogs held the Rams on downs at the CU 29-yard line ad went 71 yards in the other direction to Gurchiek's 8-yard scoring draw.
Cumberland got the ball back on a punt at its 9, and a snap infraction backed the Bulldogs to their 4, from where they went 96 yards on 18 plays to Gurchiek's 8-yard scoring flip to Daniel Dayton.
Hagewood's first interception set up Gurchiek's 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end BJ Stewart up the seam for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Dayton was injured on a pass from Gurchiek which left the ball on the Bluefield 1, from where Miller set the touchdown record.
Bluefield's deepest drive was to Cumberland's 22. But Hagewood intercepted freshman quarterback Cory Mabry at the 1 and returned it to the 29.
Alexander had inserted Loveless at quarterback on the previous series and the third-year sophomore hit fifth-year tight end Ryan Slack with a 10-yard scoring strike on the first play of the fourth quarter and wide-open fifth-year running back Ken Dixon with a 51-yarder down the left side.
"We've played good, solid run defense down the stretch and the guys played well," Alexander said. "Offensively, we had a good balance of run and pass.
"Just a good team effort, a lot of fun. We got all of our seniors in there and involved... It was a good way to finish our home schedule."
Cumberland, with its 22nd win over the last three seasons and 27th since 2009, will finish the season at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Lindsey Wilson in Columbia, Ky.
"We want to finish 8-3 on the season," said Alexander, whose Bulldogs returned to the NAIA poll Monday at No. 21. "It's not easy to win eight football games in college football, and hopefully finish in the top 25, which would be three years in a row."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org