Bethel @ No. 24 Cumberland University
The Matchup: The Bethel University Wildcats travel to Lebanon, Tennessee to battle the 24th ranked Phoenix of Cumberland University Saturday with kick-off slated for 1:30 p.m.
The Wildcats enter the match-up at 1-5 and 0-2 in the MSC (Bluegrass Division) while Cumberland is 5-2 and 1-1 in the division. Bethel is 1-3 at home and 0-2 on the road. CU is 3-0 at home and 2-2 on the road.
The New Look: The Mid-South Conference has a new look this season. The Conference includes 20 teams which compete in three divisions. The new, expanded football conference allows three teams to earn an automatic bid to the NAIA Football Championship Series.
The conference now includes the Mid-South Conference's 13 members: Bethel (Tenn.), Bluefield (Va.), Campbellsville (Ky.), Cincinnati Christian (Ohio), Cumberland (Tenn.), Cumberland (Ky.), Faulkner (Ala.), Georgetown (Ky.), Kentucky Christian, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Pikeville (Ky.), Reinhardt (Ga.), and Union (Ky.).
They are joined by six teams from The Sun Conference: Ave Maria (Fla.), Edward Waters (Fla.), Point (Ga.), Southeastern (Fla.), Warner (Fla.) and Webber International (Fla.). St. Andrews (N.C.) is scheduled to begin football in 2017.
Game Coverage: The game can be heard on WEIO, 100.9, The Farm and at www.thefarmradio.com. Dave McCulley and Zach O'Kelley will call the action. The Countdown to Kick-off Show begins at 1 p.m.
Fans can also follow the game at:
Stats - www.CumberlandStats.com
Coach Chris Elliott Show: Fans can catch the Chris Elliott Show each week on Wildcat Vision. Watch for replays of the program throughout the season. Join the coach as he reviews and previews Wildcat action each week.
Last Meeting & Series: It will be the 29th meeting between the two programs. Cumberland has a 17-10-1 advantage between the two. They first met in 1921.
The Phoenix beat Bethel 62-55 in two overtimes last year in McKenzie. Fighting back from a 41-24 deficit entering the fourth quarter the Bethel Wildcats staged a furious comeback to take a 48-41 lead late in regulation only to see the Cumberland University Phoenix tie the game at 48 in the last minute and go on to beat the Wildcats in two overtimes 62-55.
After a nine-yard punt, Bethel moved 29 yards on just five plays, with Taye Davis converting a fourth down run and then going in from five yards out for a quick 7-0 Wildcats lead. The score came at the 12: 08 mark of the first quarter.
The Phoenix answered as CU signal caller Justin Snyder hit Michael Green on a 34-yard pass play which put the Phoenix in scoring position. A few plays later Kris Parker lunged in from one- yard out, knotting the game at seven.
Bethel's Quincy Walden returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown to give Bethel a 14-7 advantage. He finished with 320 all-purpose yards in the contest. He entered the game second in the nation in that category.
Snyder tied the game with an eight yard rushing effort at the 5:00 minute mark. It would be the first of three rushing touchdowns for the CU quarterback. He also finished with three touchdown passes.
After the Phoenix jumped out to a 27-14 lead Bethel quarterback Kerry Sellers II connected with Walden on a 25-yard pass play to pull Bethel to within 27-21 with four minutes left in the first half. Cumberland would tack on another score however and lead at halftime 34-21. Bethel's Casey Kammerzell missed on a 46-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the half.
The Cats struck first in the second half on a 32-yard field by Kammerzell. CU went ahead 41-24 as Snyder hit Green on a four yard pass to grab the 41-24 lead.
The Cats began their remarkable comeback with a rushing touchdown by Davis and a 46- yard pick six by Trey 'Von Brown. Another field goal by Kammerzell and the game was tied at 41 with 5: 48 left. Duane Elmore was credited with the break-up on the Brown interception return.
It appeared the Wildcats may have the game when Sellers scored with 1:47 left but CU used an eight-play 71-yard drive with Parker scoring to tie the contest with 24.8 seconds left.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the first OT, Snyder carrying the final two yards for the TD, and in the second extra period, the redshirt senior hit Kendall Johnson for an 18-yard score, his sixth total touchdown of the day. Bethel had grabbed the lead in the first OT with Davis scoring out of the Wildcat formation from three-yards out.
Trailing 62-55 Sellers scrambled and appeared to have Devante Jimenez open in the back of the end zone on a fourth and four pass but the ball fell off the hands of the Wildcat receiver and CU won 62-55.
Snyder finished 15-of-24 for 228 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 23 times for 118 yard. Austin Chaplin carried 21 times for 114 yards and one touchdown. Cumberland amassed 355 yards on the ground on 63 attempts.
Sellers II was 17-of-25 for 220 yards passing with one touchdown. He ran 70 yards on 15 carries. Davis rushed 19 times for 90 yards and three scores for the Wildcats.
CU had a 583-468 advantage in total yards.
Last Week: – In front of a Homecoming crowd at Wildcat Stadium the Wildcats played host to the No. 10 Georgetown Tigers Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats came up short in the MSC Bluegrass Division match-up losing their fifth straight falling to the visitors from Kentucky 41-7.
Georgetown went 72 yards on six plays on the opening possession and went ahead on a Riley Hall to Shawn Boykin four yard pass to lead 6-0. Jack Nguyen hit the point after and it was 7-0 at 12:33 of the first quarter. Four minutes later Hall scrambled 11 yards to make it 14-0 Tigers. With 1:50 left in the first Hall hit Kyle Longworth from nine yards out to make it 21-0.
The second stanza was much the same as Hall found Ross Cox from 49-yards out and the Tigers pulled away at 28-0. Jordan Bond made it 35-0 at the 6:30 mark on a five yard scamper. With 40 seconds left Bond made it 41-0 with a one-yard run. The PAT failed after a bad snap.
GC had 418 total yards to Bethel's 148. The biggest difference was in passing as the Tigers had 287 yards to the Wildcats 48. The Wildcats had 11 penalties for 100 yards in the contest. Georgetown had 26 first downs while Bethel had only seven.
Bond led GC with 73 rushing yards. Davis led Bethel with 71 rushing yards. Four Tigers caught three or more passes with Bart Bell leading his squad with four receptions. Christian Burney had two receptions for the Wildcats.
Trey' Von Brown led Bethel in total tackles with eight. Brown had a half sack in the game which gives him a career program high of 14.5. Dustin Haraway led Georgetown with six total tackles.
Last week CU -Kimlee North ran for two touchdowns, Cumberland's defense accounted for a pair of scores and Joseph Rushin posted two TDs, one rushing and one passing, in a 58-0 victory over Cincinnati Christian in football action on Homecoming here Saturday at Nokes-Lasater Field.
The Phoenix recorded the largest margin of victory in modern history (since 1990) for the football program, topping a 49-0 win over Bluefield College in 2012.
Wildcats: Coach Chris Elliott is in his sixth season as head coach of the Wildcats (his 14th) season overall at Bethel). He is the 10th head coach in Bethel football history. He has a career mark of 28-35. Coach Elliott is also the Receivers Coach.
In 2012 Coach Elliott's team won the Mid-South Conference West Division with a perfect 6-0 record (9-4 overall) and made it to the second round of the NAIA Championship Series. The Wildcats had eight First-Team and five Honorable Mention All Mid-South Conference West Division selections, 19 Academic All-Conference selections, and six NAIA Scholar Athlete selections.
Coach Elliott was named 2012 NAIA Mid-South Conference West Division Coach of the Year and Bethel University's 2012 NAIA Coach of the Year. His squad finished No. 9 in the NAIA Football Coaches Top 25 Poll.
In 2013 the Wildcats finished 2-9. The Cats had six First Team All Mid-South Conference performers and three second team all-conference players. Four players were named to the Beyond Sports Network All-American squad. John Ilaria, Stoney Burns, Robby Phillips and Jahron Reynolds were selected to the BSN squad. Burns was named to the NAIA All-American team. The squad had 12 Academic All-Conference student-athletes and three NAIA Scholar Athletes.
The 2014 Bethel football season was a story of two seasons in one for the Wildcats. The Cats finished with a 5-6 overall record and a 2-3 mark in the Mid-South Conference. The Wildcats began the season with five straight losses but won five of their last six games. They finished the season with a three game winning streak. Bethel had three players named to the 2014 MSC First Team All-Conference squad. John Ilaria, Stoney Burns, and Robby Phillips earned those honors. Bethel's Devan Raymer was named to the MSC Second Team All-Conference squad. Burns was named to the NAIA All-American team for the second straight season. The squad had 11 Academic All-Conference student-athletes and four NAIA Scholar Athletes.
Sporting a 3-3 record after six games in 2015 the Cats lost four of their last five games and finished 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the Mid-South Conference.
Bethel won their first seven games in 2016 but lost four in a row to close out the season. The Wildcats were 1-4 in the MSC.
Bethel had six players named to the 2016 MSC First Team All-Conference squad. Four were named to the second team. The squad had 13 Academic All-Conference student-athletes and three NAIA Scholar Athletes.
Bethel's Quincy Walden was named an AFCA-NAIA and VSN All-American. He was signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.
Throughout his tenure with the Wildcats, Coach Elliott served as running backs coach (2013), assistant head coach and offensive coordinator (2011), assistant head coach and outside linebackers coach (2010), defensive coordinator (2007-2009), and defensive line coach (2004-2007). Coach Elliott coached quarterbacks in 2014 and 2015. Coach Elliott was an assistant coach in the Victory Sports Network Senior All-Star Classic in 2007, and was on staff when Bethel played in the Polk County Classic in 2004. He has been on staff for all the program's conference championships (2005, 06, 07, 11, 12) and playoff appearances (2006, 07, 11, 12). He has coached two NAIA All-American athletes and three All-Conference Defensive Linemen. Coach Elliott received his Masters of Arts in Education degree from Bethel University in 2005.
Coach Elliott graduated from Saint Francis University (Loretto, PA) in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. While at SFU, he was a student assistant for the Red Flash Football Team (NCAA-FCS). Following graduation, Coach Elliott joined the football staff at his high school alma mater, Bishop Guilfoyle (Altoona, PA), as assistant coach and offensive coordinator. He had the honor to coach alongside his former coach and mentor, Tom Irwin, who is a Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Member, Blair County Sports Hall of Fame Member, and Bishop Guilfoyle Ring of Honor Member. Coach Elliott also served as a graduate assistant at Saint Francis University in 2000.
Chris is married to Lindsay Hailey from Nashville, TN. She is a 2002 graduate of Belmont University and received her master's degree from Tennessee Technological University in 2006. Lindsay is an Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education in Bethel University's College of Arts and Sciences. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Emma and Erin and reside in McKenzie.
Phoenix: Donnie Suber was named head coach at Cumberland University on January 28, 2013, the fifth head coach of the program since it was revived in 1990. He is in his fifth season as head coach and 10th season in his third stint at Cumberland, serving as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. He has worked as an assistant or head coach at the collegiate level for the past 24 years, 13 of those at CU. He is 26-25 at CU.
About the Programs:
Bethel University is a member of the NAIA and Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division. The school is located in McKenzie, Tennessee. Bethel is a private, four-year university affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The football program first started in 1900 but twice in the history was discontinued, the first being from 1942-45 while the latest was from 1953-92. The Wildcats overall record is 155-268-8. The Cats have been to the NAIA playoffs four times in the history of the program, most recently in 2012.
Cumberland University is located in Lebanon, Tennessee, 30 miles east of Nashville. Cumberland began intercollegiate athletics in 1889 when Lacy Rice of Madisonville, Ky., a lanky young freshman, competed in a track and field meet at Vanderbilt. Rice lived to the age of 102 and as a centenarian returned to Cumberland and gave the pitching staff some tips on throwing curve balls.
Intercollegiate football began October 26th, 1894, against Peabody College with a 6-6 tie. In 1903 Cumberland won the Southern Conference championship.
Football has seen its ups and downs at Cumberland, however. The sport was dropped in 1906, resumed in 1912, dropped in 1915, resumed briefly in 1916 when the memorable 222-0 game with Georgia Tech was played in Atlanta, too well known to require description, and then was not resumed until 1920.
This Week in the MSC:
Ave Maria @ Warner
Bluefield @ Point
Pikeville @ (RV) Cumberland's (KY)
Bethel @ (24) Cumberland (TN)
(5) Lindsey Wilson @ Kentucky Christian
(14) Southeastern @ Faulkner
(RV) Campbellsville @ Cincinnati Christian
Union @ (3) Reinhardt
Did You Know?
The Cumberland game marks the 432st game played in Bethel football history. CU is the 113th different opponent the Cats will have faced. Bethel is 155 -268-8 in those games. Bethel is 27-56-1 all- time against opponents on the 2017 schedule.
With his 76 yards against EWC in the season opener Taye Davis became the eighth Wildcat to rush for 1,000 or more yards in his Bethel career. He has 1, 353 career yards entering the Campbellsville game.
Trey'Von Brown became the all-time career sack leader in program history last week. He has 14.5 in his career as a Wildcat.
Bethel's Demetrice Gilbert is No.8 in the nation with three interceptions.
Cumberland is No. 6 in rushing yards on the season with 1,567.
The Phoenix is No. 12 in 3rd conversion percentage at 47.2.
Did you know you can follow the entire athletic program at Bethel by visiting: www.bethelathletics.com?
Ten states are represented on the Wildcat roster this year. Over 120 players are homegrown from the Volunteer State.
Five of Bethel's opponents are ranked in the NAIA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll. Reinhardt is ranked No. 3. Lindsey Wilson is ranked No. 5 while Georgetown is ranked No.9. Southeastern is No. 14. Cumberland is No. 24. Bethel lost earlier to Southeastern 62-13. The Wildcats lost to Reinhardt 33-0. They suffered a 41-7 loss last week to Georgetown. They face LWC and Georgetown at Wildcat Stadium later this season.
Coach Elliott's staff is made up of Alan Hollowell who serves as the Offensive Coordinator. He also serves as Recruiting Coordinator and Running Backs coach for the Wildcats. Paul Frazier coaches Tight Ends and serves as the Video Coordinator while Luke Roth is the Special Teams Coordinator and works with Outside Linebackers. Ryan Wall is a Co- Defensive Coordinator and coaches the Defensive Line. He is also the Run Game Coordinator. Chris Springer is a new face on the staff and is a Co - Defensive coordinator. He also serve as the Secondary Coach. Coach Elliott coaches Receivers. Dustin Kincaid and Devante Thomas are Graduate Assistants. Taylor Ballagh, Ryker Tope, Garrett O'Brien and Logan Morris are student-assistants.
Follow the Football Cats on Facebook and Twitter at Bethel Sports Information Department.
Games can be heard on WEIO, 100.9 The Farm and at www.thefarmradio.com. All home games can be viewed on Wildcat Vision with Dave McCulley and Zach O'Kelley calling the action on both networks.