CAMPBELLSVILLE — Senior Bert Brown blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds to seal the 14-13 Union victory over host Campbellsville (Ky.) on Saturday night.
The victory was Union’s first at Campbellsville since 1995 and the first overall since 2008. The Tigers still lead the series with a 15-11 record.
Special teams played a huge role in the outcome of the game, most notably during the final 3:14. Down 14-7, Campbellsville faced a fourth-and-goal from the 1-inch line when Chris Cook powered his way through to pull the Tigers within 14-13 with 3:14 to play. However, it remained a one-point game thanks to Eric Krivitsky’s PAT attempt going wide left.
Union’s celebration of maintaining the slim lead was short-lived as Campbellsville recovered the onside kick, taking over on its own 46 with 3:14 remaining. The Tigers methodically moved the ball down the field, using 12 plays to go 50 yards to put it on the Union 4 with nine seconds to go.
Krivitsky was called into the game once more, this time to attempt a 22-yard field goal to win the game. However, Brown came flying through the line and blocked the kick, and Josh Nixon recovered the ball on the Union 24 with 1.8 seconds still on the clock.
Mike Brinkley then took a knee to run out the clock, sealing the 14-13 Union win.
“Our defense certainly stepped up tonight, really for the whole game. They certainly came up big for us at the end (of the game),” said Union coach Tommy Reid. “I’m very proud of their effort. I felt like it shouldn’t have been that close, we had some miscues in the red zone. But, I’m proud of our team’s effort and playing to the last play. Again, our defense, our hats off to them. They came up big when we had to have a play.”
Union ran 22 fewer plays but outgained Campbellsville 435-325. Brinkley went 14-of-21 passing for 263 yards and one touchdown. Domonique Jefferson caught four passes for 62 yards, while Tyler Ross hauled in three passes for a career-high 124 yards.
Rob Brown had a solid offensive game with 101 yards rushing and a touchdown on 16 carries. This was his ninth 100-yard rushing game in his career. He also caught one pass for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Zach Eagler led the way with nine total stops with three others amassing seven.
The Bulldogs missed several opportunities to take control of the game. Union had the ball in the red zone four times but scored only once. Union missed two field goals – one of which was blocked, and turned the ball over downs at the 1.
Union drew first blood when it scored on its opening drive of the game. The Bulldogs used nine plays to go 78 yards to find the end zone. On first and goal from the 7, Brown scampered his way into the end zone to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 7:29 to play in the first.
Late in the half, Campbellsville weaved together an eight-play, 80-yard drive to even the score. Cook scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:51 on the clock, making it 7-7 at the half.
Union began the second half like it did the first half by scoring on its opening drive. Facing third-and-19 from the Tiger 27, Brinkley hit Brown for a short screen play and Brown appeared to be down at the 20. However, he spun out of the tackled and raced down the left sideline for the touchdown. Jared Miller’s PAT put Union up 14-7 with 8:06 left in the third.
Midway through the fourth, Union seemed to be on its way to pad its lead with Miller lining up for a 19-yard field goal. However, the kick was blocked by Rod Dickerson. Coty Eanes picked up the loose ball and it to the Tiger 38 with 10:36 remaining.
Campbellsville ate 6:39 off the clock as Cook capped the 15-play, 62-yard drive with a 1-yard run to make it 14-13 Union. The PAT was no good, setting up the wild finish.
“I think we’re going to go into practice on Monday with a higher level of excitement,” said Reid. “We’ll be coming off a big win tonight, and I know our kids are going to be jacked up going into the game with Cumberlands at home.”
Seth McFerrin led the Tiger ground game with 75 yards on 15 carries, while Cook rushed for 50 yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts. Robert Hill completed 13-of-25 for 124 yards.
Union will play its home opener Saturday when it plays host to Cumberlands (Ky.) at noon.