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Miller time at homecoming
Oct 10, 2012 12:00 am
Bulldog back scores five TDs in CU's 42-21 triumph
By ANDY REED
The wing-T offense usually spreads the offense around, unlike the I formation, which features a tailback who gets most of the carries.
But Lemeco Miller is the exception in Cumberland's offense. The senior from Huntsville, Ala., rushed for 177 yards and five touchdowns Saturday as the Bulldogs broke a tie in the fourth quarter and pulled away from Union for a 42-21 homecoming victory at Nokes-Lasater Field.
And it was a wing-T guru from Cumberland's past who encouraged CU coach Dewayne Alexander to get the ball to Miller, coming off a Mid-South Conference Offensive Player of the Week honor who has 726 yards and 13 touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 5-1 season.
"The best advice I ever got, years ago I heard [former Cumberland] Coach Herschel Moore speak at a clinic and he said if you have a good player, move him around and get him the ball, don't be hard-headed and stubborn and use him as a decoy," Alexander said. "We just move Lemeco around and get him the ball. We throw him the ball [two catches for 51 yards Saturday] and he's not disappointed so far."
Miller scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter to draw the Dawgs into a 7-7 halftime tie.
Both teams kicked their offenses into gear in the third quarter as they continued to match score for score. Miller scored on a 7-yard run for a 14-7 CU lead.
After Thomas Goodloe's 12-yard run put the hosts in front 21-14 [after Union was called for illegally touching the ball on an onside kick to give Cumberland a short field], Miller scored on fourth-quarter runs of 6, 20 and 7 yards to break what had been a 21-21 tie going into the final 11:15. The final score was set up after Anthony Knight forced a fumble which was recovered by former Watertown star Nick Lennox.
"I had a good day, but I got to give it all to my teammates," Miller said. "I can't do anything without the line, the receivers blocking on the outside, the fullback going up in the hole for me.
"Defensive line was playing pretty high. The defense as a whole was playing pretty high. We were able to run straight at them."
Quarterback Mike Brinkley led Union [3-3] with three touchdown passes - 23 yards to Domonique Jefferson for a 7-0 first-quarter lead, 11 to Tyler Ross for a 14-14 tie in the third and 44 to Jefferson for a 21-21 deadlock late in the third. He finished 24-of-42 for 306 yards.
But neither team could finish drives in the first half as penalties, dropped passes, a missed field goal and a blocked punt stalled one team or the other. It drew the ire of Alexander in the halftime locker room.
"As a head coach, he came at us," Miller said. "The past three games we started out bad. We finished good. But there are going to be better teams on down the schedule that we're going to have to start off a little bit better. We have to start like we finish."
"Not a very well-played first half by either team," Alexander said. "Both teams had a lot of opportunities where the game could have been totally different in the first half.
"It was probably what it should have been, a 7-7 tie and let's start over and play the second half."
Cumberland finished with 460 total yards to Union's 436. CU quarterback Reed Gurchiek completed 7 of 15 passes for 137 yards while Blake DeBoard missed his one pass on a halfback heave.
"I don't think the second half they ever stopped anything we were doing," Alexander said. "We had a couple of times where we stopped ourselves but we really played well. And we got the big hit and turnover when we really needed it."
Cumberland will now turn its attention to the Mid-South West Division where the No. 17 Bulldogs are 1-1 going into next Saturday's trip to Faulkner in Montgomery, Ala., the first of five straight division games to close the season.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org