WALESKA, Ga. – For most of the game, it appeared that UPIKE football was on the verge of the nation's premier upset, but couldn't get the tall task done, falling to No. 3 Reinhardt 35-23 on Saturday.
Despite falling behind 16-0 early, the Bears scored 16 straight to tie the game. After tallying -2 yards in the three drives prior, Bowen Smith capped a 12-play, 66-yard drive with a 17-yard dart to Braxton Whitmore to get the Bears on the board.
On UPIKE's next possession, William Chandler pinned the Eagles to their own two-yard line on a punt and the Bears got a safety on the very next play to draw the score to 16-9 in favor of Reinhardt.
Pikeville (5-4, 3-1 MSC App.) then took the corresponding possession down the field, thanks in part to a big 40-yard pass from Smith to Vick Johnson. Willie McCloud then took in his first touchdown of the day from the one-yard line to tie the Eagles.
Smith didn't have a good day as a whole, completing 11 of 39 passes, but made those 11 count as much as he could for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Because of that inefficiency, UPIKE had to go to the ground often and earned 134 that way.
The second-quarter tie carried into halftime, but not soon after. Reinhardt (8-1, 4-0 MSC App.) needed just three plays to go 65 yards to break the tie after halftime on a touchdown run from Trevae Cain.
However, UPIKE returned the favor on the next possession with a 76-yard drive to tie the game back up at 23 on a pass to Alexander Shelton. He was Smith's favorite target on the day and was the only player to get more than one reception in the game, catching four passes for 90 yards and that touchdown.
The game was in UPIKE's grasp from that point as it strung together two long drives but both were thwarted on the Bears' own accord. Pikeville missed a 21-yard field goal and fumbled the ball on Reinhardt's 5-yard line with the game still tied.
After the teams traded empty possessions to start the fourth quarter, Reinhardt quarterback Billy Hall took a scramble 65 yards to break the tie. UPIKE failed to convert a fourth down in its own territory and Reinhardt scored again to ice the game.
The loss is the UPIKE's first in Mid-South Appalachian Division play and snaps a four-game win streak. The Bears will likely now have to win out for a chance to win the division.