The University of the Cumberlands welcomed the 1st Inaugural Border Football Game to their field Saturday as the Eastern Kentucky All-Star team and the Eastern Tennessee All-Star team went head to head. With an estimated 5,000 fans, Tennessee took the spotlight, along with the trophy, in the end with a final score of 23-13.
With over 400 applications from all over Kentucky and Tennessee, a committee was selected to hand pick the best of the best from both states and welcome them to their first bowl game. From each state, 49 players were selected and brought to Williamsburg, KY to participate in 3-a-days for two straight days before competing on Saturday. This game was one that no player or coach d would ever forget. Kentucky’s coaches, led by Williamsburg’s retiree, Bob Rose, had their team under the parking lot lights of the Civic Center on Thursday night walking through formations and plays while Tennessee’s Head Coach, Dan Bland, was having his appendix removed on Friday afternoon. Needless to say, the 1st Inaugural Border Bowl was one for the history books.
As Tennessee was the first to kickoff, Kentucky’s Kyle Gaffney (Lexington Christian Academy) made a return of 66 yards to set Kentucky up very nice right from the start. Just four plays later, Kaleb Curtis (Montgomery County) would take a quarterback sneak up the middle and into the end zone. Jake Stephens (Lafayette) would put the extra point attempt through the uprights to give Kentucky a 7-0 lead after 1:14. Defense was the name of the game the whole first half, as both teams held each other until the second quarter.
Tennessee took just under three minutes and a few possessions down the road before McCord Bowen (Boyd-Buchanan) would kick a 29 yard field goal to make it 7-3. Going back and forth with great defense, Kentucky was able to force a fumble in the backfield and be set up nicely for a 37 yard field goal from Stephens to make it a 10-3 ballgame with only two seconds left to go in the first half of play.
The third quarter was very promising for Tennessee as they came out after the half ready to play. Terrance Cobb (Fulton), brother to former University of Tennessee graduate and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Back, stood in the backfield for Tennessee. Cobb pushed his way into the linemen for a one yard touchdown to bring Tennessee within one point. As the extra point was being kicked, Kentucky’s Jordan Williams (Bryan Station) shot out like a cannon from the defensive side and blocked the point after to keep Kentucky on top 10-9. A couple of series later, Kentucky tried for yardage three times in a row and could not get anywhere. Stephens came onto the field again and made a 26 yard field goal, making the score 13-9 with 7:00 left in the third quarter. On Tennessee’s next possession, Cobb broke loose for a 42 yard touchdown after two previous plays. The extra point came close to being blocked again, but was not and Tennessee took their first lead of 16-13.
The fourth quarter was used to shut Kentucky out of the Bowl trophy for good. Tennessee’s Clark McMillan (Central) ran the quarterback keeper for a seven yard touchdown to end the game with a score of 23-13 in favor of the south.
Terrance Cobb was named the MVP of the 1st Inaugural Border Bowl with 17 rushes for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cobb was followed by Joshua Jeffers for Tennessee with four carries for 31 yards. Tennessee had a great pair of quarterbacks as Clark McMillan went 9-14 with 115 yards and Mark Montgomery (Austin-East) went 4-11 for 65 yards. Stephen Shiver (Maryville) caught three passes for 52 yards, followed by Daniel Dayton (Halls) who caught 2 passes for 53 yards. Montgomery was named the offensive player of the game for Tennessee.
For Kentucky, Kaleb Curtis led the rushing unit with 16 carries for 44 yards and also led the passing unit, going 7-13 with 68 yards. Terrell Combs (Bryan Station) was right behind Curtis for rushing, going 7 rushes for 36 yards. Ty Sparks (Tates Creek) dominated the receiving for Kentucky, catching three passes for 49 yards and he also rushed three times for 7 yards. The player of the game for Kentucky though was a surprise as the punter and kicker, Jake Stephens was elected to represent the best offensive performance. Stephens had eight punts for 382 yards, averaging 47.8 yards per punt and having a long punt of 66 yards, which was downed on the 6 yard line. Stephens also went 2-3 on his field goals, making them from 26 and 37 yards out and just coming short of a 51 yard field goal.
Tennessee’s defense was relentless in the second half, led by the defensive player of the game, Jonathan Yeary (Jefferson County) with his 13 tackles, including one tackle for a loss of 2 yards and a pass breakup. Other top contributing defensive players for Tennessee were Jordan Allen, Lincoln Anderson and Aaron Trent, all having 6 tackles.
Kody Reed (Lincoln County) led Kentucky’s defense on the field with seven tackles and one pass breakup. Cody Quinn (South Laurel) and Daniel Crawford (Middlesboro) each had six tackles on the day, but it was Crawford who came away with the defensive player of the game award for Kentucky, recording 1.5 tackles for 2.5 yards lost, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble.
Congratulations to all Kentucky and Tennessee All-Star players who were able to represent their schools and their ability in the 2008 Border Bowl. Through hard work and dedication, they will continue to use their talents and sportsmanship throughout life. The 2008 Border Bowl will look to continue next year as more applications come in and more players help to carry their High Schools to further heights in the regular season.