PIKEVILLE, Ky. – UPIKE football will head into its bye week happy after beating one of the NAIA's biggest surprises in Kentucky Christian on Saturday, 49-38.
The game was a barnburner from start to finish with the first punt not coming until there were under five minutes left in the first half.
For the second straight game, UPIKE's offense was on fire, going for 455 yards in the game, including 300 on the ground without its premier back, Xondre Willis, who was held out with injury.
UPIKE's first touchdown came off a long 14-play drive that resulted in the first of three touchdowns for Alexander Shelton on the night. Shelton had 79 all-purpose yards, 53 through the air with two receptions and a touchdown, and 26 on three carries with two touchdowns.
All three of Shelton's carries were incredibly important as the "Wildbear" quarterback. His first two were both short touchdowns, while the last pretty much iced the game on a 22 yard run on 4th and 1 in the final minutes.
Each of the game's first four drives resulted in touchdowns, but one of the game's deciding factors came on KCU's second. Their extra point was blocked by Josh Green which kept the Bears ahead 14-13.
From there, the Knights kept chasing points and eventually left six points after touchdowns on the board, four from two-point conversions and two missed extra points.
KCU took its first and only lead of the game after intercepting Trevon Wofford on an iffy interception call and scored again to go up 19-14.
However, that lead would be short lived after Sanders took the first play of the very next possession 60 yards to the house. From there, UPIKE built its lead again to a two-score margin with Shelton's second touchdown on its next possession.
Bowen Smith entered the game in the second half and only attempted six passes but made them count with two going for touchdowns. The first went over the middle to Arties Clark in the third quarter. His second touchdown came in the beginning of the fourth quarter on Shelton's touchdown reception.
Despite chasing points throughout the night, KCU got within four points before Gibson scored with just 1:12 to go. The Knights' last chance fell into the arms of Joe Fluker who picked off the KCU quarterback.
UPIKE's defense wasn't perfect on the night but showed up to make big plays. The Bears had two interceptions, seven tackles for loss and eight pass breakups. Taeron Brown led UPIKE with 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, three pass breakups, and a fumble recovery.