GRAYSON - Kentucky Christian University will play in four different states during the 2014 football season. The KCU Knights will kick off the 2014 season with an out-of-state trip to Cookeville to face Tennessee Tech on Aug. 28 in a Thursday night game. It is the only non-conference game of the season for KCU. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 5-7 season, including a loss to NCAA Division I Wisconsin, and feature preseason all-Americans and OVC all-conference players on defense in Tra’Darius Goff (LB) and Marty Jones (S).
“The game with Tennessee Tech will be a first for the Knights as we have yet to play a Division I FCS team. It should be a great game to start out the season,” said KCU head coach Gene Peterson. This game against a much higher-level opponent should help recruiting efforts in the border state to the south. KCU recruiting coordinator James “Hoot” Gibson commented, “We have a bunch of kids from Tennessee and a few coaches who are from or coached high school ball in Tennessee so this is a big game for our team and for recruiting.”
The next two Saturdays (Sept. 6 and 13), the Knights will be on the road at conference foes Bethel University and Reinhardt University. The Bethel University Wildcats were 2-9 last season and will be led by senior all-American players John Ilaria (OL) and Stoney Burns (DB). Reinhardt finished last season 6-4 and the Eagles will be a stern test for the Knights with the return of sophomore running back L.J. Stegall, who rushed for nearly 700 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman last season.
KCU will host Bluefield College on Sept. 20 in the 2014 home opener. The Rams went 0-11 in 2013 and will have revenge on their mind after suffering a 38-7 home loss to KCU in 2013.
An in-state trip to Georgetown College is next for the Knights on Sept. 27. The Tigers were 7-4 last season, and will be led by senior quarterback Neal Pawsat, who passed for 2,347 yards and 18 touchdowns. “This could be the last year we play Georgetown since next year they are moving to NCAA II,” stated Peterson.
The Knights return home to play all three of their October games at Knight Stadium with dates against Campbellsville University (Oct. 4), Lindsey Wilson College (Oct. 11) and Union College (Oct. 25).
The Campbellsville University Tigers were 4-6 last season and return dynamic sophomore signal-caller Tajh Millkiken (854 passing yards, 319 rushing yards). After finishing 8-3 in 2013 and sporting a preseason #19 national ranking, Lindsey Wilson’s Blue Raiders are led by senior Branden Cresap. The LWU signal-caller, who tossed for 2,663 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2013, should be on the short-list for all-conference honors.
Union College is looking to rebound from a 3-8 mark last season and the Bulldogs will have dual-threat in quarterback Chandler Whittlesey and senior receiver Domonique Jefferson to lead the way. Whittlesey passed for 1,363 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 430 yards and two more scores in his freshman season. Jefferson (897 yards; 11 TD) is the top target in the passing game.
KCU will hit the road to take on the University of Pikeville on Nov. 1. The Bears were 7-4 in 2013 and return Marshall University Transfer senior QB A.J. Graham. The six-foot-five Graham threw for 2,215 yards and 13 touchdowns and also rushed for 343 yards and six scores. Seth Millar returns for his final season in the backfield after rushing for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Knights will then host defending Mid-South Conference Champion, the University of the Cumberlands, on Nov. 8th for the Knights’ senior day. The Patriots went 13-1 last season and fell in the NAIA National Championship game. Sophomore sensation Adam Craig is back to control the offense for the Patriots after racking up 1,365 passing yards and 13 touchdowns and 1,251 rushing yards with 26 touchdowns. UC is ranked No. 2 nationally in the preseason.
The Knights will close out the 2014 season with a trip to Montgomery, Alabama to face Faulkner University. The Eagles were 9-3 last season, but lost several of their top players on both sides of the ball, including their head coach. Sophomore kicker Cameron Golob returns after kicking 17 field goals and scoring 118 points.
A member of the Mid-South Conference, Kentucky Christian University, is looking to improve on a 3-8 record from 2013, but it will be a tough challenge with two league teams ranked in the top 20.
“The teams in the East Division will be very competitive again this year with Georgetown, Cumberlands and Lindsey Wilson trying to make another comeback,” Peterson added.