BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – An earthquake shook the mountains of Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. Nothing was likely as shaken up as the respective football record books for Union and Pikeville.
In the end, the Union Bulldogs will get credit for the win, 60-59 over the University of Pikeville Bears on a gorgeous season-ending Saturday afternoon at Birch/Nau Field. But along the way, offensive record books took a beating on either side of the ball in one of the most exciting games in the history of either school.
The quarterbacks, seniors who will go down as the most prolific passers in the history of their respective programs, put on masterful performances.
Mike Brinkley, a 6-0, 188-pound senior from Anthony, Fla., finished the game 20-of-42 for his first career 400-yard game at 401 and five touchdowns.
His counterpart, Trevor Hoskins, a 6-3, 205-pound senior from nearby Middlesboro, finished 20-of-34 for 382 yards and three touchdowns. For Hoskins, the holder of every game, season and career record in the book, it marked the seventh time in his career he had more than 300 yards but tied for only the sixth most in his career.
And then there’s this – Union finishes the season 4-7; Pikeville closes it out at 3-8.
Amazingly, neither team set scoring records. Pikeville’s record is 63 in a game and combined 128. Union’s records were set in the corresponding game last season, when it lost to Faulkner University 95-89.
Union jumped out to an early lead, taking the opening kick downfield for a 32-yard touchdown run by senior Rob Brown. It would turn out to be the senior’s final score as an ankle injury moments later ended his career. Freshman kicker made it 7-0 with 12:28 left in the opening period.
Pikeville answered quickly, as Hoskins hit Tanner Napier for a 57-yard touchdown catch at 10:40 left in the period. A Seth Millar 19-yard run with 6:34 left and a pair of Grayson Quick PATs gave the Bears a 14-7 lead.
But before the period ended, senior quarterback Mike Brinkley had hit senior Jontrel Colbert from 27 yards out and junior Jared Smith for a 40-yard score, making it 21-14 Bulldogs by the end of the period.
The Bears got on the scoreboard with 12:29 left in the half when sophomore Octavian Crutcher blocked a punt through the end zone for a safety, cutting it to 21-16. Millar put the Bears back on top with an 11-yard run with 10:03 to play, but the conversion pass failed to keep the lead 22-21.
Union regained the lead when sophomore Leonard Dixon went 54 yards for a score. The conversion pass failed but Union led 27-24 with 8:57 to play.
Each team closed the half with scoring passes. Hoskins hit junior Jeremy Hill from 23 yards out before the duo hooked up for the two-point conversion. Union’s came when Brinkley found senior William McGarvey deom 41 yards out.
The Bulldogs led 34-33 at the break.
Pikeville scored the first two touchdowns of the second half. Hoskins hit Hill from 30 yards out – failing on the conversion run – and Miller scored for the third time, this time from 11 yards out. Quick’s PAT made it 46-34 with 8:38 to play in the third.
Scoring runs – Union’s by Dixon from one yard and Pikeville’s by senior Zeke White from the four – sent the teams to the fourth with Pikeville leading 53-41.
Union scored the first 13 points of the fourth. Peebles hit two field goals, from 27 and 20 yards, respectively, around a touchdown that came when freshman Keonrick Daniels fell on a fumble in the end zone. Brinkley had hit Dixon, who fumbled at about the six after gaining 28 yards on the play.
The second field goal made it Union 54, Pikeville 53 with 5:08 to play.
Pikeville then had its longest drive of the game, needing eight plays to cover 70 yards and taking 3:51 off the clock. It ended with White’s second scoring run, this time from a yard out, to make it 59-54 with 1:13 to play. The conversion pass failed.
That left the door open for the Bulldogs, who needed only 1:04 to run an amazing 11 plays and covering 76 yards, ending when Brinkley’s last career pass found sophomore Deron Hicks for 20 yards. The conversion run failed, making it 60-59 with 8.9 seconds remaining.
Pikeville returned the kick to 26 and had 0.5 seconds left. Hoskins final career pass was caught by Tanner Napier, who flipped it to Jordan Amis, but his lateral was recovered by the Bulldogs to end the game.
Union carried the ball 38 times for 228 yards, while the Bears went 39 rushes for 225. The Bulldogs netted 629 yards on 83 plays, while Pikeville had 60 on 73 snaps.
White led the Bears with 83 yards on 19 carries and two scores, while Millar had 10 carries for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Union got 157 yards and two scores from Dixon on 22 carries.
Amis tied a school record with 11 catches in the game and had 128 yards, while Hill caught five for 162 yards and two scores. Napier hauled in three for 84 yards and a score.
Hicks led Union receivers with four catches for 105 yards and a score.
Sophomore John Dudley Hilton led the Bears with eight tackles, five being solos. Union got 10 tackles, five and five, from Darrin Greene in his final performance.