MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In a contest that resulted in the most points ever scored in an NAIA football game, it was a fourth-down stop in the third overtime by the Faulkner defense that handed the Eagles a 95-89 record-setting victory over Union here Saturday afternoon on Homecoming at Alabama Christian Academy's Norton Memorial Field.
The 184 total points easily outdistanced the previous NAIA mark of 141, ironically set a year ago in Union's game against Bethel. In fact, Saturday's game eclipsed the record in regulation, with the Mid-South Conference West Division craziness having ended the fourth quarter tied at 75. It was the fourth-highest scoring game in college football history, with Georgia Tech's 222-0 blasting of Cumberland in 1916 topping the list.
After the teams matched touchdowns and points after in the first two extra periods, Faulkner quarterback Josh Hollingsworth tossed his seventh scoring pass of the day in the third overtime - this one to Chris Kordakis - to give the Eagles the six-point lead. Although the required two-point attempt failed, Faulkner was a defensive stop away from winning on Senior Day.
And on fourth-and-2 at the Eagles' 17, that's exactly what it got. Defensive linemen Paramore Tapa, Kenterris Williams and Ty Hardnett, along with linebacker Tanielu Mose, stuffed Union's Rob Brown short of the first down, ending the four-hour marathon and setting off a wild celebration among Faulkner players, coaches and fans.
"I'm just so proud for these seniors because they deserved to go out with a win," said Faulkner head coach Gregg Baker, whose third Eagles team finished the season 3-7 with the victory. "That's what we talked about all week. We struggled so much defensively today, and all season, but our guys stepped up when we had to have it on that last drive in overtime.
"It's been a tough season. It didn't turn out like we wanted but it ended the way we wanted it to. This gives us some momentum headed into the off-season."
Hollingsworth, who already had re-written Faulkner's offensive record book, completed 48 passes in 63 attempts for a season-high 637 yards and the seven touchdown tosses. He wasn't the only Eagle who shined on this memorable evening, with a pair of seniors - wideout Courtney Pete and running back Brandon Cheatham - ending their Eagle careers in quite memorable fashion. Pete caught 19 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, while Cheatham had 130 yards rushing on 21 carries and a school-record five touchdowns.
Pete also through a touchdown pass, to Hollingsworth of all people, on a throwback pass that gave Faulkner a one-point lead midway through the final quarter. The lead was eight at 75-67 after a Cheatham touchdown run with 3:12 left, but Union failed to go away, marching 60 yards in 12 plays, scoring with 13 seconds showing on the clock on Brown's 12-yard gallop. Moses two-point conversion pass to Josh Winkle tied it at 75, setting the stage for the overtime drama.
The scoring explosion started at the outset, with both teams seemingly scoring at will. Neither team was able to build more than a one-score lead in the opening half, with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Moses to Brown with 5 seconds left handing the Bulldogs a 38-35 lead at the break.
Union took a 10-point lead early in the second half, but Hollingsworth answered with a scoring pass to Pete and Eagles' tailback Ricky Barr scored from a yard out to give Faulkner a 49-45 lead midway through the third quarter. There were five lead changes the rest of the way, before the extra periods finally decided it.
Kordakis caught seven passes for 109 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner. Another senior - wideout Don Hill - had his biggest day as an Eagle. pulling in four passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Dimitri Smith was the fourth Faulkner receiver who surpassed the 100-yard mark, catching seven passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
Faulkner safety Zeke Pigg had a game-high 21 tackles, and also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass for the Eagles.
For Union (2-9), Moses passed for 392 yards and four touchdowns, while Brown was almost unstoppable from his running back position, rushing for 241 yards and four scores. Faulkner finished the game with 793 yards of total offense to 696 for Union.