Cumberland University

News

Tennessean Spotlights CU Football

10/20/2014

Attention college football fans: How many of you know the names of Reed Gurchiek, Broc Loveless and Kyle Musice?

Need a hint? They are three key players on the most successful college football program in the state.

Still scratching your head?

Meet the Cumberland Bulldogs.

Of the 13 college football teams in Tennessee, Cumberland is the only program that has won more than 70 percent of its games during the past five seasons.

And Gurchiek, Loveless and Musice have major roles on this winning team. Since arriving on the Lebanon campus in 2010, the Bulldogs have a collective 35-14 record and have been a perennial contender in the Mid-South Conference, a 13-member league that competes on the NAIA football level.

There are no overflow crowds. No media hype. Far less attention.

“We try to get Division I-AA players if we can,” second-year coach Donnie Suber said. “For a lot of kids, things are promised and sometimes stuff doesn’t work out.”

Division I-AA is the level of NCAA football now known as the Football Championship Subdivision. Suber, who once played for perennial I-AA power Georgia Southern, says the talent level of his players matches those who play on the FCS level. He says the biggest difference between FCS and NAIA players is the size and strength of the offensive and defensive linemen.

That’s where he draws the line. He insists Gurchiek, Loveless and Musice could play on the FCS level. And so could several of their teammates.

On a rainy day earlier this week, Suber and the three seniors chatted about the Bulldogs program and their winning tradition. They sat in the coach’s office, a room in a small cinder block building next to the team’s football field, the former home of Lebanon High School’s team.

When Lebanon opened its new high school in 2012, it left behind Nokes-Lasater Field. Cumberland athletic director Ron Pavan saw an opportunity. He worked out a deal so that Bulldogs could play on the field, rent-free, for the next 30 years.

And although the stadium is a short 3/4-mile drive from campus, it’s been a good home. They’re 10-2 on their home field since the move.

This year, the Bulldogs are 5-1 and again a contender for the conference title. They travel to Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday to face title contender Faulkner, also 5-1.

To win the big game, the Bulldogs will need another strong game from Gurchiek and Loveless, who share the quarterback duties.

For some schools, it may be troublesome to have two quarterbacks competing for playing time. At Cumberland, the duo have excelled. They’ve combined to complete 68 of 126 passes with eight interceptions and just two interceptions. They’ve also rushed for 788 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Loveless, a former standout at Spring Hill, rushed for three touchdowns in Saturday’s 47-46 come-from-behind win over Union.

The comeback has become a popular theme. Two weeks ago, the Bulldogs trailed Pikeville 3014 in the fourth quarter. Gurchiek, a former Mt. Juliet standout, led the comeback as he passed for 117 yards and rushed for another 116. Two touchdowns and two twopoint conversions tied the game in regulation, setting up a 36-30 overtime victory.

“You look back at the games and we’ve started slow with penalties and turnovers,” Gurchiek said. “Then, we get going. We know we’re the better team.”

Musice, a starting linebacker, is symbolic of many of the players on the 140-man roster. He was a standout at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon. When it was time to play college football, he chose to stay close to home. Eighty-five of his teammates are also from the state, most of those from the Midstate.

“Many of our high school friends went on to (attend) MTSU and UT Knoxville,” Loveless said. “And on Saturdays, they don’t go to their (MTSU, UT) games. They come here, tailgate and watch us play.”

There are still three more chances to see them play at home. If you’re looking for an alternative to the SEC, OVC and CUSA, the Bulldogs and the NAIA have home games in Lebanon on Oct. 25, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15.

Dave Ammenheuser  

Reach Dave Ammenheuser at 615-259-8352 or on Twitter @NashSportsEd

 

View original article here