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Defense keys KCU win over UPIKE

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – The Knights of Kentucky Christian University held the University of Pikeville to a mere 108 yards of total offense in a 22-10 win on Saturday afternoon at the W.C. Hambley Athletics Complex.

Pikeville (3-6, 1-3 in the Mid-South Conference) had 158 yards in the air but suffered through 50 yards lost on 18 carries on the ground.

For Kentucky Christian, which won with 349 yards of offense, the win improved it to 6-3 overall, insuring its first winning season in school history. The Knights are 3-1 in the Mid-South Conference East Division.

KCU dominated the game early, if not on the scoreboard. By halftime, the Knights led 14-3 yet had held the Bears to five net yards on 23 first-half plays.

Freshman quarterback Cole Cooper scored on a seven-yard keeper with 9:18 to play in the opening quarter. It ended a 45-yard drive that took a dozen plays and 5:42 off the clock. Sophomore Andrew Slikker’s extra-point made it 7-0.

The Bears put up what would be their only first-half points when sophomore Grayson Quick booted a 27-yard field goal. The Bears got the ball at the seven-yard line when freshman Jakereen Smith returned a punt 47 yards to the 13-yard line, and when a penalty was tacked on, the Bears opened the drive at the seven.

KCU put up the only points of the second period. Cooper hit senior tight end Rance Hughes from seven yards to make it 14-3 with 4:45 to play. The drive began on the Pikeville 27 when sophomore safety Josh Cobb intercepted a pass.

The Knights needed only 23 seconds to score the only third-period points when sophomore linebacker Ken Reichle sacked senior quarterback Trevor Hoskins in the end zone for a safety, making it 16-3.

The teams traded fourth-quarter touchdowns. Pikeville’s came on a two-yard run by backup quarterback Jared Harris, ending an 18-yard drive set up by an interception and 47-yard return by freshman J.K. Hall.

KCU finished scoring when freshman Demone Belmarez scored on a 29-yard run, finishing a 75-yard drive that took only five plays.

The Knights ran for 247 yards on 58 tries with Belmarez carrying for 112 yards. Cooper, in his first collegiate start, had 99 yards on 24 carries.

Cole was 14-of-23 in the air for 102 yards with a score and two touchdowns. He found junior Caleb Cox five times for 38 yards.

For the Bears, the leading rusher was Harris, who gained three yards on two carries. Hoskins was 10-of-29 for 158 yards. Junior Jeremy Hill caught four passes for 63 yards. The leader by yards was Shawntay Zachary, whose only catch was for 78 yards.

The standout for the day was Quick, who in addition to his kicking chores punted six times for an average of 45.3 yards. He had a long of 55 yards and buried the Knights inside the 20 twice.

Sophomore linebacker John Dudley Hilton led all tacklers with 11, nine of them solos and one for loss. Sophomore tackle Deontay Dorsey-Norton followed with eight, all solos, and one for loss.

The Bears had three interceptions on the day, with Hall, junior Demitri Travis and freshman Matt Robinson picking off passes. Junior Rory Spain, who had seven tackles, forced a fumble that was recovered by junior Taylor Woods.

KCU was led on the defensive side by Reichle, who had five tackles, 3.5 for loss and two sacks.

Pikeville finishes the season on the road, beginning next Saturday at Belhaven (Miss.) at 2:30 p.m. KCU will entertain Cumberlands at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday.

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