Wise, Virginia - Second year Head Coach Dudley Hilton has the University of Pikeville football program moving in the right direction. Following a 4-6 campaign a year ago, Hilton has the Bears off to a 2-1 start in 2012. The first three games of the season have not been easy; in the season opener, UPike traveled to Bluefield College for the first football game in over 70 years for the host Rams. In the game, the Bears walked away with a 42-28 victory to set up a big second week showdown with nationally ranked Campbellsville University. Playing its second road contest in as many weeks, the Bears limited the Tigers to 174 yards while forcing two turnovers to pull off the upset, 14-7. A week ago, UPike appeared to be on the cusp of a third consecutive win at home against Lindsey Wilson. The Bears took a 36-31 lead into the final quarter only to see the Blue Raiders score 22 unanswered points to post the 53-36 victory.
To this point in the season, UPike has been led by its defense which has produced 10 sacks to rank second nationally (UVa-Wise leads the NAIA). Individually, Taylor Woods has collected 3.5 of the 10 team sacks; the 6'3", 220 pound defensive lineman also has recorded 5.5 tackles for loss to rank fifth nationally in that category.
On offense, the Bears have used a variety of running backs to average over 140 yards per game on the ground. Leading the attack is Hunter Adams a 6'0", 202 pound junior who has rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on 33 attempts. In addition, Chris Perry a 5'10", 190 pound freshman has averaged 5.8 yards per attempt on 19 carries in the opening weeks of the season. Perry has totaled 111 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate season.
Grayson Quick anchors the UPike special teams unit; the sophomore garnered All-Mid-South East accolades a aseason ago when he ranked ninth in the NAIA when he averaged over 40 yards per punt. Quick also nailed four field goals as a freshman while connecting on 40 of 42 point after attempts. This season, Quick is a perfect 12-12 in point after attempts, he has yet to attempt a field goal, the specialist has also been superb in the punting game by averaging 39 yards per punt with a long of 50 yards early in the season.
Saturday's game will mark the Mid-South East opener for two schools picked in the middle of the pack in the preseason poll. UVa-Wise was picked third in the poll while UPike was picked fifth amongst the six schools in the division. In 2011, the two schools combined to go 2-8 in league play.
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