BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union football team nearly rallied for yet another last-second comeback victory; however, the Bulldogs came up short as they lost 21-18 to visiting Reinhardt (Ga.) on Saturday, spoiling Homecoming festivities.
Reinhardt (4-2 overall) missed a 35-yard field with 1:59 to play, keeping the margin at three. Taking over on its own 20, Union began its comeback attempt. Facing a third-and-8 at the 22, Chandler Whittlesey hit Jared Smith for an 11-yard pass for a first down at the Union 33. A 9-yard loss on a sack followed by an incomplete pass and 6-yard run by Whittlesey put Union in a fourth-and-13 situation at the 30. Whittlesey looked to pass but was flushed from the pocket. Scrambling, he found an opening and sprinted toward the first down marker at the 43. However, he was stopped about a half of a yard short, turning the ball over on downs with 29 seconds remaining.
The Eagles took a knee, locking up the 21-18 decision.
Union (1-4 overall) outgained Reinhardt 455-393 in total offense. Whittlesey passed for 213 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-29 passing. He split time with Hogan Goodson, who was 3-for-9 for 88 yards and a score. Domonique Jefferson had a career game with eight catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Leonard Dixon led the ground attack once again with his fourth 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 113 yards on 17 carries. He also became the 12th player in program history to amass 1,000 career rushing yards as he now has 1,104. Dixon also caught four passes for 49 yards.
Reinhardt ran for 233 yards on 56 attempts with a balanced attack. Chris Gaines led the way with 70 yards on 14 tries, while T.C. Carter ran the ball 15 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Haynes completed only 8-of-23 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Turnovers and penalties hurt the Bulldogs. Union turned ball over twice while Reinhardt did not, and Union was flagged nine times for 101 yards. Reinhardt was penalized six times for 67 yards.
Ahead 3-0 in the second, Union was driving deep into Reinhardt territory when the Eagles forced a fumble at their 19 with Johntre Gunn recovering it. Reinhardt then moved the ball 81 yards in seven plays to take a 7-3 lead with 4:32 left in the half. Haynes hit Jay Dodd for a 29-yard scoring pass.
Early in the second half, a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a third-and-9, incomplete pass extended the drive for Reinhardt. After the penalty, the Eagles need four plays to cover 19 yards for a touchdown. Carter punched the ball in from 2 yards out to make it 14-3 with 10:43 left.
Union's defense came up big and stopped Reinhardt on the Bulldog 36 midway through the third. On the very next play, Goodson hit a wide open and streaking Jefferson down the middle of the field for a 64-yard touchdown pass, pulling Union within 14-10 with 5:44 remaining in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Reinhardt marched 70 yards in seven plays to extend the margin to 21-10. Carter powered his way in from the 1-yard line for the 11-point advantage with 2:47 to play in the quarter.
Midway through the fourth, the Bulldogs were aided by an Eagles' penalty to help keep momentum going. After a 10-yard pass to Jefferson gave Union the ball at the 50, a personal foul for a late hit on the play moved the ball down to the Reinhardt 35. Whittlesey then hit Smith for a 25-yard pass before hooking up with Jefferson for a 10-yard scoring strike with 7:14 on the clock. The Bulldogs went for 2 and got it as Whittlesey hit Diquan Jefferson, making it a 21-18 contest.
However, the comeback would stop there as Reinhardt held on for the three-point victory.