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UPike’s Defense Leads Bears to Win

The University of Pikeville Bears used a stingy defense to overcome a slow night by the offense to beat Ave Maria 31-7 in Pikeville last night.

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Even with the offense not clicking on all cylinders, the University of Pikeville football team found a way to beat Ave Maria (Fla.) 31-7 behind a stellar defensive performance on Friday night at the Hambley Athletic Complex.

UPIKE (2-2) only had eight first downs and had the ball for nearly seven minutes less than the Gyrenes (1-2), but its defense allowed just 238 yards on 74 plays, picked off a pair of passes and had Taeron Brown return a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown to help win comfortably.

Special teams got into the act as well, recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff at the Gyrenes’ 30-yard line. That early mistake led to a 30-yard field goal by William Chandler which was the first three points of 31 straight UPIKE would go on to score.

Ave Maria didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 6:03 mark of the fourth quarter when Brian Byrd hauled in a circus catch in the back of the end zone on 4th and 18.

Eric Bruner paced the Bears’ defensive effort with seven tackles, including two for a loss and a sack, while Montayo Hood and Nathan Pray joined him with seven stops as well. Brown finished the game with five tackles to go along with the 35-yard fumble recovery for six in the third quarter to bring the score to 24-0.

Sani Warren took every snap for UPIKE, completing 7-of-15 passes for 165 yards, including two touchdowns and an interception. Warren’s first touchdown pass went 49 yards to Arites Clark to make it 10-0 and the second came late in the third quarter to Clark again from 36 yards out to go up 31-0.

UPIKE’s other offensive touchdown came with five minutes to go in the second quarter when Willie McCloud finished a six-play, 62-yard drive with a six-yard rush. It was the Bears’ best drive of the game, lasting nearly three and a half minutes and making it a three-score game before halftime at 17-0.

McCloud led all the UPIKE backs with 30 yards on 12 carries, while Xondre Willis went 27 yards on nine touches. Clark continued to be a standout among the receivers, hauling in three catches for 95 yards and two scores. Chandler was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points, nailed the opening 30-yard field goal and averaged 40 yards on seven punts, including one landed inside the 20.

Ave Maria put three different players at quarterback with Will Tate leading the group by throwing for 88 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-11 passing with an interception as well. Will Ulmer took direct snaps at the quarterback spot, but was always on the run, netting 59 yards on 14 carries with a long of 17.

UP NEXT

It’s a long road trip for UPIKE next Saturday as it heads to St. Andrews in Laurinburg, N.C., for a 1:30 p.m. ET kickoff.

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