Defense, late field goal carries CU to first win
LEBANON, Tenn. – Justin Snyder passed for one touchdown and ran for another, Matthew Alter booted a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and the Cumberland defense limited the University of the Cumberlands to 236 total yards in a 17-14 victory on a rainy and soggy afternoon here Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field.
The Phoenix (2-1) won for just the second time in the last 12 years against the Cumberlands (2-2) but the second time in three seasons. Torrential rains before kickoff made for a wet and sloppy playing surface during the contest and limited both teams offensively, especially in the first quarter when both quarterbacks struggled to grip the ball for passes.
Snyder hit Michael Green for a 68-yard touchdown pass late in the opening quarter on the first play after a Patriots fumble, but UC tied the contest on a Kevin Claussen four-yard TD run with 5:29 left in the second period.
Both teams scored to start the second half, with Cumberland driving 69 yards on 12 plays and taking over five minutes off the clock. Snyder rushed five yards up the middle for the TD, but the Patriots answered with an eight-play, 58-yard scoring drive, capped by a one-yard QB sneak from Adam Craig.
The Phoenix drove 56 yards on 14 plays on the ensuing possession, but one of the team’s 10 penalties, this one a false start, pushed CU back inside the red zone. Alter’s 24-yard field goal hit the right upright (though there was a high snap for Snyder to put down on the kick).
After a 17-yard punt by the Patriots, Cumberland took over at the UC35 just at the start of the fourth quarter. After a holding call, Snyder completed a 22-yard pass to Lorel Morton and hit Ladarius Rodgers for 21 yards after another holding penalty. CU moved inside the five yard line and had 4th-and-goal at the one, but a false start penalty forced the field goal try.
Alter missed a 23-yard attempt, but the play was blown dead for another false start, giving the senior a second chance. He converted this one from 28 yards and Cumberland led 17-14 with 8:51 remaining.
Terry Tiller, who forced a fumble in the first half on the play before the 68-yard TD pass to Green, made a nice recovery on an underthrown ball from Craig for an interception just after the field goal, but the Cumberland offense went 3-and-out to give the ball back to the Patriots.
The defense held again and the Phoenix took over at midfield with 5:23 remaining. The drive stalled after one first down and a failed fourth down attempt at the UC32, giving the Patriots one last chance.
A pass interference penalty gave the Cumberlands its second first down of the drive and Craig scrambled before hitting LeeShon Jones for another first down. An incomplete pass and two short runs left the Patiots attempting a 45-yard field goal, but the ball slipped on the hold and Alex Campagne tackled Josiah Robbins for a loss, sealing the victory for the home team.
Snyder finished 17-of-27 passing for 238 yards and one TD and rushed 14 times for 40 yards and a score. Austin Chaplin also carried 15 times for 51 yards for CU, while Green finished with seven catches for 134 yards and one TD.
Claussen rushed 21 times for 61 yards and one TD for the Patriots and Craig carried 10 times for 43 yards and a score. Craig was 4-of-12 passing for 64 yards and was hurried five times in the game but avoided any sacks.
Cumberland travels to NCAA Division II Mississippi College next Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff before returning home in two weeks to face the University of Pikeville at 1:30 p.m.