Cumberlands football falls in NAIA FCS quarterfinals
On a cold, rainy, and windy Saturday afternoon, the tenth-ranked Patriot football team traveled north to take on the second-ranked Knights of Marian University in the Quarterfinals of the NAIA Football Championship Series. Both teams looked to make a statement in the game as they looked to punch their ticket to the Semifinal round next week. After sixty minutes of play, it was Marian that would come away with a 30-0 win over the Patriots to move on as Cumberlands ends their season at 10-2 overall on the year.
Marian would take the opening kickoff to their 32-yard line to start the contest. Picking up a couple of first downs through the air, Marian was able to eventually get star running back Charles Salary into space, totaling 36 yards on the ground including the four-yard TD run to take the early lead. The extra point was no good, making it 6-0 Marian.
UC would get a quick first down on an 11-yard run by Martize Smith but would then be stalled out on offense. Marian would take over after a punt, but quarterback Ethan Darter would fumble the ball away as he scrambled out of the pocket and was recovered by the Patriots on their own 30-yard line. UC's offense would stall again as Devon McMillin would be forced to punt it away for the Patriots, sticking Marian on their 41-yard line.
Marian would be forced to punt away on their next possession but would hold the Patriots to another three-and-out. A Short punt from McMillin would give Marian the ball at their 44-yard line as they began their drive. A big pass from Darter to Jacob Pressler would give the Knights a big first down and back inside the red zone. Cumberlands' defense would have a bend-not-break mentality on the drive as they would come up with a big stop at the one-yard line to force a fourth down. Marian would opt for the field goal and take 9-0 lead over UC with 11:34 to play in the half.
After UC was unable to advance the ball past midfield, they would punt it away, but another short kick gave Marian good field position to start the drive. Johnny William would find his way to the corner of the end zone as Darter would find his favorite receiver for another Marian TD. The extra point was good, making it 16-0 Knights at the half.
As the Patriots would receive to begin the second half, QB Josiah Robbins would have a miscue as he was looking for his receiver on a slant, but Ryley Pease would step in front and pick off the pass, taking it to the end zone for a quick Marian TD, making it 23-0 Marian. The Knights would get short field position again after a failed offensive drive for UC. The Knights would turn to Salary again as he would pound it in from four yards out once again for another Marian score, making it 30-0 entering the fourth.
The teams would trade possessions throughout the fourth quarter with no one scoring as the Knights would take the 30-0 win over the Patriots, ending UC's season in the NAIA FCS Quarterfinals.