Shoveling the hole for the Phoenix to fall in was true freshman quarterback Josh Davis, who threw just over 100 passes in a 14-game high school season running the wing-T in Kentucky, looked like a seasoned NFL passer by flinging first-quarter touchdown passes to Kendon Young covering 25 and 11 yards. A holding penalty forced Campbellsville to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Noah Bicksler late in the first quarter.
Young, who caught eight passes for 120 yards, got inside the left pylon for a third touchdown catch from Davis covering 21 yards late in the first half for a 24-7 lead. Davis completed 17 of 27 passes for 240 yards as Campbellsville climbed to 3-4 for the season and 2-1 in the Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division.
“It was the eye candy,” Cumberland coach Tim Mathis said of Davis’ first-half performance. “In the first quarter and a half, our secondary kept looking in the backfield and it was play-action. You look in the backfield and keep thinking they’re going to run the ball and the guys keeps running behind (us). All we preach is do your job. Those defensive backs just started doing their job. Their job was not looking in the backfield at the running back. My job is to read what the receiver was doing.”
And once they did that, Campbellsville quit scoring and the Phoenix began fighting back. The Tigers lined up for a 22-yard field goal by Noah Bicksler. But Tony Bennett blocked the boot and Jimmy Keys Jr. got a 78-yard scoop and score to fire up the Cumberland crowd.
Then the secondary began making life hard for Davis. Cornerback Prentiss Sumerall returned the first of Davis’ three interceptions 10 yards to the Campbellsville 32-yard line. Phoenix quarterback Dezmon Huntley then hit receiver Denarius Toliver for a 32-yard scoring strike five seconds before halftime to pull Cumberland back into the game down 24-14 by the break.
There was no scoring in the third quarter, but plenty of action, starting with a blocked Cumberland punt by Andrew Bennett. Cumberland’s Tony Bennett then then added an interception of Davis to hie earlier field-goal block. Later, the Phoenix had back-to-back possessions when Marcus Bryson recovered a Campbellsville fumble on a punt return. But the Phoenix eventually gave the ball back on a fumble of their own.
Keys, a junior transfer from Memphis who didn’t get cleared for eligibility through the NAIA clearinghouse until three games had already been played, continued his knack for making big plays by picking off Davis and returning it to the Campbellsville 32.
But he’s just been a delight to have and he’s a super kid and a super player and he’s a great competitor… He’s got something you can’t coach. You either got speed or you’re chasing it.”
Cumberland cashed in on the pick with a 3-yard touchdown run by Joseph Rushin to bring the Phoenix to within 24-21 with 9:40 left to play.
The Phoenix forced a three-and-out and drove to a 31-yard field-goal try which missed wide left.
Cumberland used its timeouts on defense and got the ball back at its 31 with 1:58 to play. But cornerback BJ Pelt intercepted Huntley and returned it for a game-clinching touchdown as the Phoenix fell to 3-5, 1-2 with No. 4 Lindsey Wilson coming to Nokes-Lasater for Senior Day at 1:30 p.m. this coming Saturday.
“Defense got their composure and played lights out,” Mathis said of the second half. “Defense kept us in the game.
“I’m sounding like a broken record. Offensively, you got some plays that are there that we got to execute and make it happen. You get in the end zone and are not coming away with points, whether it’s a missed field goals, blocked field goals or fumbles or dropped touchdown passes. We just got to make a play.”
Campbellsville 31, Cumberland 21
Campbellsville 17 7 0 7—31
Cumberland 0 14 0 7—21
Campbellsville—Kendon Young 25 pass from Josh Davis (Noah Bicksler kick), 12:45.
Campbellsville—Young 11 pass from Davis (Bicksler kick), 7:16.
Campbellsville—Bicksler 31 FG, 1:18.
Cumberland—Jimmy Keys Jr. 78 blocked field goal return (Ian Spence kick), 4:09.
Campbellsville—Young 21 pass from Davis (Bicksler kick), 1:08.
Cumberland—Denarius Toliver 32 pass from Dezmon Huntley (Spence kick), :05.
Cumberland—Joseph Rushin 3 run (Spence kick), 9:40.
Campbellsville—BJay Pelt 40 interception return (Bicksler kick), 1:37.
First downs 21 17
—Rushing 10 9
—Passing 8 7
—Penalty 3 1
Passing yards 240 134
—Comp.-Att.-Int 17-27-3 10-27-1
Punts-avg. 3-27.7 6-29.5
Penalties-yards 4-35 9-103
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
RUSHING—Campbellsville: Ormoni Zanders 17-76, Kendon Young 8-28, Josh Davis 10-21, Jordan Brown 2-4, Team 3-(-5). Cumberland: Kendall Johnson 11-78, Telvin Rucker 12-40, Dezmon Huntley 11-26, Kimlee North 6-20, Joseph Rushin 3-7, Jeremy Williams 1-5, Team 1-(-6).
PASSING—Campbellsville: Josh Davis 11-27-3—240. Cumberland: Dezmon Huntley 10-26-1—134, Team 0-1-0—0.
RECEIVING—Campbellsville: Kendon Young 8-120, Jordan Duff 5-100, Jordan Brown 2-16, Darquan Richardson 2-4. Cumberland: Marcus Bryson 5-51, Denarius Toliver 2-41, Joseph Rushin 1-20, Ian Hafner 1-14, Kimlee North 1-8.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Campbellsville: Noah Bicksler 22 blocked. Cumberland: Ian Spence 26 blocked, 31 wide left.