By Chris Parsons / Sports Editor
WILLIAMSBURG — The University of the Cumberlands football team is on the brink of making history after completing the 2013 football season with a perfect 13-0 regular season record and a No. 1 overall ranking.
John Bland’s squad will now turn its attention to Grand View University, which won its semifinal matchup against Morningside, 35-0. The two teams will square off in the NAIA National Championship game Saturday at Barron Stadium in Rome, Georgia at 4:30 p.m.
In case you’ve slept through the season, the Patriots’ top billing comes with good reason, considering the kind of numbers the team put up this season. Overall, Cumberlands is averaging 45 points and 478 yards of offense per game, 359 of which come via the ground game.
If the offensive numbers don’t impress you, the Patriots have only given up 19.6 ppg, good enough for an average win margin of 26 points.
Ironically for Cumberlands, the toughest test of the season was the most recent, when the team needed overtime to get past Carroll College in the national semifinal game.
Even though they gave up 493 yards of total offense in the 34-27 win, the bend-don’t-break effort of the Patriots came up huge. Cumberlands held the Saints to 0-for-12 on third down conversions. The defense also came up with key defensive sacks when they needed them, led by Weston Hazelhurst with 17 total tackles with the key sack that ended the game to seal the victory.
Offensively, the Patriots were led by freshman quarterback Adam Craig, who had 27 carries for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win over Carroll College.
During the win Craig also became the first player in school history to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season. He’s now has rushed for 1,157 yards and 24 touchdowns, while passing for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns.
After the win, Bland talked about how fond he is of this year’s team and the opportunity to make history as the postseason continues.
“I just love this team. They are special guys and I look forward to coaching them every day,” Patriots coach John Bland said. “This is a huge win for our program and a program defining moment. Now, we just have one more game to go to reach our ultimate goal of winning a national championship.”
Senior linebacker and Mid-States Football Association Midwest Defensive Player of the Year Jason Gladfelder is the cornerstone of the Vikings’ defense. He leads the squad with 76 tackles (61 solo), 25.5 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks, while ranking second on the team in interceptions with three.
Sophomore quarterback Derek Fulton is in his second full season as the starter for Grand View and has been the leader of the Vikings’ offense.
He enters Saturday ranked seventh in the NAIA in total offense with 3,784 yards and passing yards, with 3,151. Fulton has completed 231-of-360 pass attempts, including 30 touchdowns. He has thrown for more than 275 yards on six occasions this season, including a season-high 312-yard effort against Morningside in the semifinals on Dec. 7. He also leads the team in rushing with 633 yards on 153 carries. As a team, Grand View averages 37.5 points and 458.5 total yards per game, which puts it in the top 10 in the NAIA.
Saturday’s game is being broadcast on ESPN3, which is ESPN’s web channel. You must be a subscriber to a participating cable provider to have access to the game.
Patriots set to play for NAIA national championship
By Chris Parsons / Sports Editor
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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