The Brass Lantern Game

The Union-Cumberlands Rivalry Game

The rivalry between Union College and University of the Cumberlands dates back to the early days of Bulldog football. In fact, the first three games Union ever played were against Williamsburg Institute, as Cumberlands was known as in 1905.

While Cumberlands has undergone a few name changes (after being known as Williamsburg Institute, it changed its name to Cumberland College before becoming University of the Cumberlands in 2005), the rivalry has remained hotly-contested over the years.

The series got its beginnings in 1905, but after those three contests - all of which were shutouts by the victor, the two didn't play against each other until the early 1920s. The last meeting was in 1924 when Cumberland won 26-0. But then Cumberland dropped football soon there after. Union continued playing football through the 1941 season, but the sport was dropped due to World War II and was not reinstated until 1984.

When Cumberland reinstated football in 1985, the rivalry resumed with the Bulldogs winning the 1985 showdown 34-12.

The Brass Lantern was introduced as a traveling trophy for this rivalry in 1995 with the winner of the contest keeping the trophy until the following. The lantern represents the coal mining industry, paying homage to major industry in southeastern Kentucky where both colleges are located.

There have been a number of memorable battles since the series resumed. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 1988 - Cumberland 36, Union 31 - The Bulldogs were looking to put a blemish on Cumberland's perfect record. The game went back and forth, but ultimately Cumberland prevailed 36-31 en route to a 10-0 regular-season record and the Mid-South Conference championship.
  • 1995 - Union 22, Cumberland 21 - In the inaugural Brass Lantern Game, trailing 21-7 going into the fourth quarter, Union scored 15 fourth-quarter points to pull out the victory. Winston Pittman scored on a 1-yard run to make it a 21-13 game before Scott Russell scored on a 2-yard run to make it 21-19 with 6:41 to play. Then with 12 seconds remaining, Jeremy Macejewski connected on a 25-yard field goal to give Union the 22-21 victory.
  • 1996 - Union 24, Cumberland 23 OT - The 1996 game went down to the wire and then some. Down 17-14 with 24 seconds to play, Jeremy Macejewski booted a 24-yard field goal to tie the game and send into overtime. In overtime, Scott Russell scored on a 25-yard run and Macejewski added the PAT to put Union up 24-17. On Cumberland's first play in overtime, Ahmad Broadnax scored on a 25-yard run, but Lance Gaudet's PAT attempt was no good, giving Union the 24-23 victory. Russell finished with 132 yards rushing on 19 carries.
  • 2001 - Union 24, Cumberland 17 - The Bulldogs headed into the fourth quarter up 16-3 and appeared to be well on their way to victory. However, Cumberland scored early in the fourth to make it 16-10, and then with 1:23 to play, Cumberland scored on a Brandon Rogers 1-yard run to go up 17-10. Led by quarterback Bart Elam, Union used six plays to go 87 yards for the game-winning score. With 23 seconds left, Elam punched the ball in on a 2-yard run before tossing the two-point conversion pass to Ernie Samuel for the 24-17 victory. Elam passed for 266 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-31 passing and ran for 35 yards and two touchdowns. The win was also Tommy Reid's first as the Bulldogs' head coach.
  • 2005 - Union 35, Cumberlands 34 - Cumberlands entered the game ranked No. 5 in the NAIA and appeared poised for its first postseason berth since 1988. After Union took an early 7-0 lead, Cumberlands reeled off 21 consecutive points for a 21-7 lead. Quarterback Joey Waters hit Courtney Elesby for a 3-yard touchdown pass to pull Union within 21-14 at the half, and then Waters hooked up with Jason Buster for an 11-yard scoring play to tie the game at 21 with 10:32 left in the third. After Cumberlands reclaimed a seven-point lead, Waters tossed two more touchdown passes and added a two-point conversion run to put Union up 35-28 with 7:23 to play in the game. Cumberlands cut the margin to 35-34 when Jeremy Vaught hauled in a 76-yard pass; at the 3:42 mark however, the PAT was no good as Union held on for the win. Waters completed 28-of-44 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns as he was named the NAIA Offensive Player of the Week. Cumberlands went on to lose its next game in a blowout to Georgetown to finish the year 8-3 and out of the playoffs, while Union ended 4-6 overall and in a three-way tie for second in the Mid-South Conference East with Cumberlands and Pikeville as all three had a 3-2 league mark.
  • 2006 - Cumberlands 21, Union 9 - The game itself was just the typical, run-of-the-mill Union-Cumberlands matchup with the teams going back and forth until a late fumble allowed Cumberlands to extend its five-point cushion to 21-9 en route to the 12-point win. What made this contest unique was that it was the first played on a neutral site and under lights as the game was held at Campbell Field in Corbin, Ky.
  • 2008 - Cumberlands 35, Union 28 - For the first time in series history, both teams were ranked in the NAIA Top 20. With both teams undefeated in conference play, the victor would have an edge heading into the rest of the season in capturing the MSC East crown and a playoff berth. After Kyle Callahan hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass with 6:57 to play in the game to pull Union even at 28-28, Freddy West capped a 64-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge at the 5:38 mark to lift Cumberlands to the 35-28 decision.
  • 2014 - Union 28, Cumberlands 27 - Playing the first night game at Union's Williamson Stadium, the Bulldogs held off the 11th-ranked Patriots for the one-point win. Down 21-20, LaVance Anderson broke loose for a 35-yard touchdown run with 3:05 remaining in the game. Union added the 2-point conversion to make it 28-21. Cumberlands counter and scored a touchdown with 1:18 left. The Patriots went for 2 and the win, but Doug Jeter sniffed out the play and tackled D.J. Rozier on the 5-yard line to seal the 28-27 Bulldog victory.
  • 2016 - Union 49, Cumberlands 45 - In what was the highest scoring game in series history (94 combined points), Union overcame a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull out the four-point victory. Chandler Whittlesey connected with Kevin Eichelberger on a pair of touchdown passes of 18 and 15 yards in the fourth to lead the Bulldogs to victory.

Union-Cumberlands Series
Cumberlands leads the series 26-12

1905 Williamsburg Institute 37 Union 0
1905 Williamsburg Institute 49 Union 0
1905 Union 27 Williamsburg Institute 0
1922 Cumberland 36 Union 0
1923 Cumberland 26 Union 0
1924 Cumberland 26 Union 0
1985 Union 34 Cumberland 12
1986 Union 17 Cumberland 10
1987 Cumberland 50 Union 19
1988 Cumberland 36 Union 31
1989 Cumberland 7 Union 3
1990 Cumberland 7 Union 0
1991 Cumberland 21 Union 14
1992 Union 28 Cumberland 19
1993 Cumberland 12 Union 9
1994 Cumberland 21 Union 14
1995 Union 22 Cumberland 21
1996 Union 24 OT Cumberland 23
1997 Cumberland 35 Union 21
1998 Cumberland 19 Union 14
1999 Cumberland 29 Union 26
2000 Union 31 Cumberland 7
2001 Union 24 Cumberland 17
2002 Cumberland 30 Union 20
2003 Cumberland 25 Union 11
2004 Cumberland 42 Union 14
2005 Union 35 Cumberlands 34
2006^ Cumberlands 21 Union 9
2007^ Cumberlands 24 Union 19
2008 Cumberlands 35 Union 28
2009 Cumberlands 24 Union 12
2010 Cumberlands 35 Union 21
2011 Union 24 Cumberlands 19
2012 Cumberlands 48 Union 14
2013 Cumberlands 52 Union 21
2014 Union 28 Cumberlands 27
2015 Cumberlands 42 Union 29
2016 Union 49 Cumberlands 45
^-Played at Campbell Field in Corbin, KY