RICHMOND – A promising first half that saw the University of Pikeville football team take a 14-7 lead over Eastern Kentucky in the second quarter was halted by turnovers as the Colonels capitalized on multiple miscues to grab a 55-14 win on Thursday night.
UPIKE didn’t back down from the NCAA Div. I FCS opponent, answering a first quarter EKU touchdown with a 10-play, 75-yard answering drive that ended with Bowen Smith going to the air 16 yards for Anfernee Brown in the end zone.
The tying play was Bowen’s first of the game as the freshman took over for the injured Sani Warren. Warren, who did not return to the game, was 7-of-8 passing for 65 yards, but had to give the game over to Smith and Shannon Patrick the rest of the way.
UPIKE’s only lead of the game came six minutes after Brown’s catch as EKU’s Tyler Swafford was sacked by Camron Parsley, causing him to fumble at the Colonels 22-yard line. Jordan Mattingly scooped up the loose ball and made it a 14-7 game.
But from that point on, EKU outscored the Bears 48-0 as the backup quarterbacks combined for four interceptions and the offense lost four fumbles. Of the four interceptions, three were returned by the Colonels for touchdowns. After trailing just 24-14 at halftime, UPIKE was down 38-14 before four minutes had been played in the third quarter after back-to-back pick sixes.
Credit the Colonels for inserting running quarterback James Smith who ignited a sputtering offense, carrying the ball eight times for 54 yards and a touchdown. With starter Tyler Swafford struggling, including throwing a pick to Jack Hopkins, the run game did wonders for EKU. By the end of the game they had outgained UPIKE 284-103 on the ground.
EKU finished the game with a 387-263 lead in total offense, but was heavily penalized, committing 13 penalties for 131 yards. Jack Hopkins did his best to keep the Colonel’s offense at bay with 12 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss and an interception. Darius Greene backed him up with 10 stops, including a team-high seven solo tackles.
HOW IT WENT DOWN
UPIKE had driven inside the Eastern 30, but Warren was sacked and gave up a fumble. From there EKU used eight plays to go 71 yards as Swafford hooked up with Ryan Markush for a 13-yard strike to the end zone (0-7), putting up the first points about 11 minutes into the first quarter.
The Bears’ ensuing drive was there most impressive of the night, marching down the field on 10 plays to even the score. Jamar Kirksey kept the Bears in manageable distances with 19 yards on the ground and Warren hooked up with Jordan Olinger for 15 yards and Braxton Whitmore for 12 more before Smith found Brown in the right corner of the end zone on his first snap (7-7).
Just under the nine-minute mark of the second quarter, the UPIKE defense came up with a huge play as Parsley sacked Swafford on a 3rd and 15 play, causing him to fumble which was scooped up by Mattingly for a 16-yard touchdown return (14-7).
Enter James Smith for EKU who changed the game with his feet, answering the Bears immediately with a quick scoring drive (14-14), then putting the Colonels in the lead for good with an eight-yard scamper in the end zone on EKU’s next drive (14-21). Just before halftime the Colonels were forced to kick a field goal, which they made from 28-yards out with 54 seconds on the clock (14-24).
The second half couldn’t have started worse for UPIKE as EKU scored on back-to-back interceptions in the first four minutes (14-38). Lucas Williams would add a 27-yard field goal three minutes later (14-41) and then just before the third quarter could end Louis Jean came up with yet another pick six (14-48).
EKU closed out the scoring in the game with 6:59 left in the fourth quarter as Raynaldy Gustave punched the ball in from two yards out (14-55).
“We just can’t beat ourselves, we talk about it all the time. Turning the ball over, we end up giving up 21 points on offense. Our defense played solid all night against a high-powered offense that was trying to get a lot of plays in” – UPIKE head coach Allan Holland Jr.