PIKEVILLE – Big plays, costly turnovers and outstanding special teams play from Damir Karapandzic all added up to a 32-13 season-opening win for the University of Pikeville over visiting Bluefield on Thursday night.
It took just six minutes for Elijah Bell to set off fireworks, returning a punt 44 yards for the first score of the game. Bluefield (0-1, 0-1 MSC East) followed up with two straight drives ending in fumbles, allowing Karapandzic to hit one of his three field goals on the night and give the Bears a 10-0 lead.
A 15-play touchdown drive early in the second quarter got the Rams within four at 10-6, but a safety and two more Karapandzic field goals followed to make it 18-6 at the half.
With a two-possession deficit looming, Rodrell Smith gave the Rams a spark, returning the opening kickoff of the second half 91 yards for a touchdown, making it 18-13. But the UPIKE defense made sure that’s where the scoring stopped.
After two empty drives, UPIKE (1-0, 1-0 MSC East) quarterback Sani Warren made arguably the offensive play of the game, finding Emmanuel Harris 43 yards down the sideline to set up a short touchdown run for Quan Weaver.
Giving up the big play and score seemed to deflate the Rams as they punted on their next two drives and gave up fumbles on their final two.
The Bears scored again in the third quarter, utilizing a 12-play, 92-yard drive lasting nearly five minutes. It ended with backup quarterback Russell Gordon fooling the Rams with some play action. Gordon, a junior transfer, fired a 13-yard strike to Jamon Langford in the end zone, giving UPIKE its final 32-13 lead.
Bluefield gained just 201 yards of total offense and turned the ball over seven times. Camron Parsley led the Bear defense with 11 tackles and Arthur Williams chipped in with nine, including two sacks and three for a loss.
UPIKE put up 332 yards of total offense, led by Weaver gaining 81 yards on the ground and Warren going 10-of-21 through the air for 122 yards.