Cumberlands advances to NAIA semifinals with 28-14 win

mmaloney@herald-leader.comNovember 30, 2013 

  • Next Game

    Cumberlands vs. TBA

    When: Saturday, time TBA

    What: NAIA semfinals

WILLIAMSBURG — The defining moments in Cumberlands' 28-14 NAIA quarterfinals victory over Saint Francis came right off the bat.

The Patriots stopped the visitors from Indiana with a goal-line stand on the opening drive of the game, then took the ball 99 yards the other way to take a 7-0 lead.

That was the start of another great day for Cumberlands, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA and unbeaten at 12-0.

"We bent a little bit but we didn't break, and made big plays, had turnovers and created things," Coach John Bland said. "It was awesome to see."

Cumberlands rang up 482 yards of offense, including 399 on the ground.

D'Angelo Jordan, a 5-foot-9, 205-pound senior, led the ground assault with 270 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.

Quarterback Adam Craig ran 28 times for 117 yards and completed six of 11 passes for 83 yards and a score.

The Patriots will find out Sunday who they will meet in the semifinals. Cumberlands has won 15 in a row at home.

"That was a statement I think our team made when you go 99," Bland said. "Not only that, making the stop."

Exactly, said defensive player of the game Weston Hazelhurst.

"We definitely made a statement right there, and gave us an opportunity to do it the rest of the game," said Hazelhurst, who was in on 16 tackles and had half a sack. "I think it's kind of a smack in the face to them."

No. 6 St. Francis (9-3) drove 92 yards in 14 plays on its for-naught first chance.

Cumberlands used 15 plays to go 99 yards the other way, capped by a third-and-12 touchdown pass of 14 yards from Craig to Brad Ramsey.

The Cougars came back with another long drive of 16 plays and 61 yards, again getting nothing as Adrian Hightower made the first of his two interceptions.

St. Francis tied with 6:19 left in the half, getting a 50-yard pass play from Josh Miller to Cody Apenzeller.

But Cumberlands quickly regained the lead.

Jordan took a pitch 58 yards to the Cougars' 17-yard line. Hunter Lewis ran it in from there on the next play.

Cumberlands led 21-7 at intermission, tacking on a 1-yard TD run by Craig in the final minute.

The Patriots then got the ball to open the second half. Jordan, the offensive player of the game, took a pitch all the way to the end zone this time for a 64-yard score and a 28-7 lead.

"The credit goes to the offensive line," Jordan said. "Everybody on offense doing their job, making their blocks. And that allows me to execute."

St. Francis' Appenzeller scored on a 40-yard pass play in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but that's as close as the Cougars would come.

When push came to shove, St. Francis simply couldn't stop the NAIA's No. 1 rushing offense (362 yards a game).

"What they do offensively, they just do very, very well, and they are good," said St. Francis Coach Kevin Donley, the one-time Georgetown leader. "They did a good job, and you've got to defeat those blocks — play-option teams — and they won those battles. We couldn't get off the field on third down; did better in the second half."

Donley couldn't help but think how things might have changed had the opening possession turned out different.

"That kind of set the tone of the game early, and that's the sign of a good football team," he said. "We should have gotten it in there and at least exchanged touchdowns for the first quarter."


Next Game

Cumberlands vs. TBA

When: Saturday, time TBA

What: NAIA semfinals

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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