Strong Finish Can’t Overcome Slow Start As Union Falls 37-23

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Another slow start doomed Union College from the outset as visiting Campbellsville University (Ky.) raced to a 20-point lead en route to the 37-23 victory Saturday at Williamson Stadium.

“It was a tale of two halves. Our coaches know what we are capable of doing, but until our kids believe it, we’re not going to get better,” said Union head coach Zak Willis. “I know we’re two games in and it’s early and we’ve got freshmen making plays, … but we’ve got some guys that we’ve expected a lot out of and they’ve got to play better.”

Campbellsville wasted no time getting its offense rolling, taking the opening kickoff and using only three plays to cover 69 yards in 51 seconds to take a 6-0. Jacob Russell hit Jarrod Harrington for a 66-yard pass play for the game’s first score. The Tigers (1-2 overall) went for a two-point conversion but was stopped short.

Harrington added a 9-yard scoring run with Russell connecting on a 4-yard touchdown pass to put Campbellsville up 20-0 at the end of the first.

Early in the second quarter, momentum appeared to swing Union’s way. Chandler Whittlesey capped an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive with an 18-yard pass to Kyle Keplinger to make it 20-7 with 12:14 left in the half.

The Bulldogs (0-2 overall) received a gift from the Tigers when a bad snap on a punt attempt resulted in a safety, making it 20-9 with 11:36 on the clock.

However, Russell threw two more touchdown passes for 20 and 10 yards, respectively, to send Campbellsville into the half with a 34-9 advantage.

With 3:13 left in the third, Zack Martin powered the ball in from the 2 to pull the Bulldogs with 34-16. A Will Ward 22-yard field goal upped the Tigers’ lead to 37-16 with 14:55 remaining in the game.

Union kept fighting. Aided by a 31-yard punt return by Doug Jeter, the Bulldogs were in business at the Campbellsville 22. Five plays later, Whittlesey punched the ball in on a 3-yard run to make it a 37-23 contest with 9:20 to play.

The Bulldogs appeared poised to cut the deficit even more, but Whittlesey’s pass was picked off by Marquis Cain at the Tiger 6 with 3:30 on the clock. Campbellsville was able to get three first downs en route to running out the clock and securing the 14-point decision.

“We didn’t change any calls in the second half,” Willis said of the team’s turnaround. “There was no magic bullet other than me saying, ‘Guys, you’re either going to believe in what we’re preaching or you’re not. When you decide to, we’ll play better.’ And they decided to in the second half and did a great job, but it’s just not good enough (to get the win).”

By the Numbers

  • ¥ Campbellsville outgained Union 487-245 in total offense. The Tigers ran for 272 yards and passed for 215, while the Bulldogs rushed for 107 and threw for 138.
  • ¥ Russell completed 18-of-28 passes for 215 yards and four scores for Campbellsville. For Union, Whittlesey threw for 138 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-23 passing.
  • ¥ Chantz Goodman rushed for 139 yards on 24 carries for the Tigers. LaVance Anderson led Union with 65 yards on 12 attempts, while Keith Neal helped out with 54 yards on nine carries.
  • ¥ Through two games, Union has been outscored 41-0 in the first quarter.
  • ¥ Jake Averhart paced Union’s defense with 11 total tackles with Jeter and Jerrin Gilmore each adding 10 total stops. Beau Biller led Campbellsville with eight total tackles with one sack.
  • ¥ The Tigers recorded three sacks for a total loss of 26 yards and had seven tackles for a loss of 39 yards. Union did not record a sack and had four tackles for a loss for 25 yards.
  • ¥ Bradley Boone continues to impress punting the ball. He punted six times for an average of 43.5 yards with three pinning Campbellsville inside the 20 three times. Boone also had a long punt of 49 yards, which placed the Tigers on their own 2.

Up Next

Union will hit the road next Saturday to face University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) in Mid-South Conference East action. This is also the annual Brass Lantern game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.