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Union, Cumberland resume Dawg fight
Oct 06, 2012 12:00 am
Close series comes to Nokes-Lasater for homecoming
By ANDY REED
Some Cumberland alumni who turn out for Saturday's homecoming will no doubt recall some of the close, often low-scoring, games with Union College in the battle of the Bulldogs.
The tightly-fought series dates to when Herschel Moore was calling plays for CU in the 1990s.
Things haven't changed in the 21st century.
"Some knockdown, drag outs," current Cumberland skipper Dewayne Alexander termed the series. "We've always had good games with those guys. We lost a tough one 21-14 my second year here in '07. We had a homecoming game here in 2010 that was a very close game, that came right down to the fourth quarter of the game. Last year, we had a big lead at halftime and had to hang on to win 41-35. It came down to the last possession of the game."
And in a Mid-South Conference known for its high-scoring shootouts, Union is somewhat of an anomaly. The Bulldogs won 10-7 at Webber International two weeks ago and edged Campbellsville 14-13 earlier last month on the way to a 3-2 mark.
"They're holding some opponents down," Alexander said. "Anytime in this league you see low-scoring games, teams have fantastic defenses."
Union's offense features one of the best passers and runners in school history. Senior running back Rob Brown has 442 yards on 92 carries while Mike Brinkley has completed 72 of 125 passes for 983 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Very good, experienced quarterback," Alexander said. "He's broken a lot of their records... They always have very good skill players.
"Defensively, very active secondary. Very solid defensive group. They're one of the top defensive teams in the league statistically."
It's not a division game, but No. 17 Cumberland needs a win at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field to maintain its hold in the NAIA poll.
"It's important to your overall record and it's important before you get into all your conference play that you get some momentum," Alexander said.
Cumberland is coming off back-to-back road wins in the Appalachia region - a pair of six-hour trips.
"We're excited to be back home," Alexander said. "Our guys have handled it well.
"We've done some good things. There are also some things our team could improve a lot... Too many penalties in the past two ballgames... That certainly something that's got to improve, especially the ones where you shoot yourself in the foot - the false-start penalties, on special teams. And taking care of the ball. We've done a reasonable job of that, but we're not in the plus-side; we're about even in turnover ratio.
"If you look at the stats of a game and the stats are real lopsided but the score is real close, The first thing you look at is the penalties and turnovers, or special teams play."
Cumberland's injury situation remains stable from last week. Center Dalton Burge and right tackle Tucker Cathey missed last week's trip. Both have practiced some this week and will be game-time decisions.
"Good news is William Judson stepped in and played very well last week," Alexander said. "Grant Theall, at center, played very well last week. They're experienced guys. We feel good there if the other two guys can't go."
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952, ext. 17; or by email at andy.reed@lebanon democrat.com