Sophomore Freddy West runs through the defensive line of UVA-Wise on his way to one of his three touchdowns on the day.

WILLIAMSBURG—In a battle for the Mid-South Conference East Division title, the No. 8 University of the Cumberlands (9-1, 6-0, ) hosted the Cavaliers of UVA-Wise on Saturday. In a high-scoring affair, 56-37, the Patriots pulled off the victory and are champions of the MSC East, a title 20 years in the making.

In the first, the Patriots started out the scoring with an 11 yard touchdown rush from Coheleach Holmes. The Cavaliers pushed right back down the field, but were short and forced to kick a field goal to make the score 7-3. With 4:55 left in the quarter, Cumberlands put together a 10 play, 61 yard drive, finished by a QB keeper TD as Kyle King ran from the one yard line to score.

UVA-Wise had a strong drive leading into the second and were able to capsize with a 30 yard pass off Randy Hippeard’s back foot to put 7 on the board. With a converted PAT, the Patriots led by a score of 14-10. It looked like the Patriots were down as they came back onto the field and went three-and-out, but Sean Mounts faked the punt and ran 29 yards to create a first down. Two plays later, Matt Jones was found wide open for a 44 yard touchdown pass. Even though Brian Abshire was able to force a fumble, the Patriots were unable to score again in the first half. Randy Hippeard and his offense went to work and with another hurried pass, Hippeard connected with Aric Evans for a 13 yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-16 going into halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, the Patriots’ Anthony Woods forced and recovered a fumble to give the ball back to the Cumberlands’ offense. After a couple of short gains on the ground, King connected on the long pass to Matt Jones for a 57 yard touchdown. On the next possession, King completed a 47 yard pass to Mounts to set up the one yard rush from Freddy West for another score. The Patriots were up 35-16 nearing the end of the third. Randy Hippeard again found the open man as he completed a 34 yard pass to Jason Lovett to bring the score to 35-23. Before the end of the quarter, Maurice Berryhill took the pitch from 10 yards out into the end zone. The fourth quarter would be the deciding 15:00 as the Cumberlands were up 42-23.

After stopping the Cavs, the Patriots attempted to run the clock down as they had the longest drive of the day on 11 plays for 82 yards and another TD by Freddy West from 9 yards out. The next series for the Cavaliers ended with an interception from Shovon Patton in his own end zone. This interception and a few words created a small brawl in the Patriots end zone, resulting in off-setting penalties and an ejection of a Cumberlands’ player. A Patriot fumble and a UVA-Wise score cut the lead to 49-30. Kyle King then stepped up for the 43 yard rush which set up a Freddy West touchdown. Hippeard would throw another touchdown pass to cap off the game, but it was not good enough as the Patriots went on to win by a score of 56-37.

Cumberlands finished the day up with 567 total yard of offense, including 396 on the ground and 171 in the air. Kyle King was named the NAPA Auto Parts player of the game, having completed 5 of his 11 passes for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with rushing 10 times for 108 total yards and 1 touchdown. Alone, King had 279 offensive yards and 3 touchdowns on the day over the No. 16 UVA-Wise Cavaliers. Sean Mounts followed King’s lead rushing 11 times for 106 yards. Mounts also was second in receiving for the day with one reception for 47 yards. Freddy West had 14 carries for 72 yards and 3 touchdowns to be the leading scorer. The Patriots only lost 6 yards in the entire game from their 7 different running backs.

Defensively, Travis Thurmond led with 13 total tackles, including .5 for a loss of 2.5 yards, a fumble recovery, and .5 sacks for 2.5 yards lost. PJ Hughes followed with 12 total tackles and 3 pass breakups. Shovon Patton added his interception to the mix to help the Patriots secure their win.

Milestones in the game started out with Kyle King. King now has broken 1,500 career rushing yards in this game’s effort and goes into the playoffs with 1,581 career rushing yards. Hunter Meade went a perfect 8 for 8 with his PAT’s today, giving him 50 attempts on the season and converting 49 of them (0.980). Meade broke his own record, which he set last year with the most PATs made in a single season. Maurice Berryhill falls 22 yards shy of having 1,000 all-purpose yards as a freshman for the Patriots.

“We had more ups than downs today, which makes for a great game,” coach John Bland said. “I am very proud of how far we have come along as a team and I am blessed to be a part of this program. UVA-Wise is a good football team and it was a battle until the end. Our coaches and our kids have meshed together and have created an unstoppable offense and defense alike. With two weeks off, we will hopefully have players like Justin Pritchett and other injured players back to 100 percent and ready to take it to the next level. The option of having a home or away playoff game is not in my control. Our fans have been great for this program this year and we would love to show them another game at home, but there are a lot of factors that go into the process and we will have to see how everything turns out.”

The University of the Cumberlands will be off next weekend, but are guaranteed a position in the in the first round of the NAIA Play-Off Series, which begins Saturday, Nov.r 22nd. On Sunday, Nov. 16th, the play-off brackets will be released as the Patriots await their next opponent.

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