JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A.J. Graham accounted for five University of Pikeville touchdowns, throwing for three and rushing for two others as the Bears held on to beat Edward Waters (Fla.) 47-41 in overtime on Saturday at Earl S. Kitchings Stadium.
The game lasted nearly five hours after the teams came off the field for an hour-long delay due to lightning late in the fourth quarter.
Graham, who went 20 of 32 for 285 yards and rushed for 44 more, scored his first rushing touchdown in the second quarter, giving UPIKE a 17-0 lead.
But the tide would turn, as Edward Waters (0-3) went on a 20-3 run to knot the game at 20 on Reymond Berhane’s touchdown pass with 9:37 left in the third quarter. From there the lead changed hands twice, along with three ties before heading to overtime.
Pikeville controlled the game in the extra period, forcing the Tigers to try a 43-yard field goal that was blocked by Taylor Woods. The block allowed the UPIKE offense to use just three plays to put Graham into the end zone on a keeper to seal the win.
The first play in overtime for UPIKE was a pass from Graham to Nu’Keese Richardson that went for 17 yards. Graham did the rest, using two keepers to score from the seven-yard line.
Edward Waters went ahead 41-34 on a 29-yard strike from Berhane to Kenneth Payne with just over nine minutes left in regulation. UPIKE answered with a nearly five-minute drive that ended with Graham finding Shawntez Johnson alone on the right side of the endzone.
Trailing 41-40, Pikeville wasn’t able to try the extra point before the lightning delay. For an hour, kicker Ryan Wilson waited to tie the game, but had no trouble putting it through the uprights when play resumed.
While the Pikeville defense had struggled over the past two quarters, the group made its biggest stop of the game during the next Tiger drive. Scott Accomando and Woods delivered sacks on second and third down to force a punt and keep the score at 41-41.
Seth Millar gave UPIKE a great chance to win in the final two minutes, carrying the ball for gains of 19 and 25 yards that led up to Wilson’s field-goal from 35-yards out. However, Wilson missed the kick wide left, taking the contest into overtime.
Millar finished with 134 yards on 12 carries, averaging over 11 yards per carry. Johnson led the UPIKE receivers with 112 yards on 10 catches with a touchdown. Accomando led the defense with nine tackles, while Woods finished with seven tackles, including a sack and a field-goal block.
Berhane went 8 of 13 for 202 yards and three scores for the Tigers and Ralph Shuler came two yards short of 100 on eight carries.
Pikeville outgained Edward Waters 543-434 in total offense and tallied a 31-18 advantage in first downs. Both teams finished with one turnover each after a pair of fumbles.
Off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2005, Pikeville will return to action at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Lindsey Wilson for a Mid-South Conference East Division battle in Columbia.