UPIKE caps homecoming with big win to stay undefeated in conference play

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- UPIKE football set the many alumni and fans home happy on Saturday with its second straight dominant victory, defeating Union 54-21.

The Bears controlled the game from start to finish, putting together arguably the team’s most complete victory of the season. UPIKE outgained the Bulldogs 480-332 and most of that difference came on the ground. The Bears’ 10th-ranked run game took advantage of Union’s porous run defense to the tune of 296 rushing yards.

Xondre Willis led the way with 91 yards; but, Willie McCloud added 65, Darrion Leslie had a 51-yard run, Derius Gibson had 34 yards, and Dillon Wheatley had 21 among others in UPIKE’s balanced attack.

Despite the overwhelming run game for UPIKE, it was the passing game that got the Bears on the board first. After Johran Broadnax recovered a fumble, Bowen Smith led the team down the field and found Arites Clark in the end zone.

Smith found himself as part of four touchdowns on the day. He completed 8-of-16 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, but also had two rushing touchdowns. His first rushing touchdown gave UPIKE a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.

After a Union touchdown, Dillon Wheatley scored his first career touchdown to give UPIKE a 20-7 halftime lead.

The halftime whistle ignited the Bears offense even more as Arites Clark got his second touchdown catch, while Smith and Wheatley also got their second touchdowns of the day, and Derius Gibson got himself a touchdown as time wound down.

As potent as the Bears offense was, the defense was just as explosive, generating four turnovers. Sean Cook II, Christopher Dublin and Seth Johnson each had an interception in the game plus Broadnax’s fumble recovery.

Dublin and Broadnax each led the team with seven tackles, while Cornelius Jackson continually found himself in the backfield with 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.

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UPIKE will travel south to Waleska, Georgia next week to take on No. 5 Reinhardt. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET.