CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Campbellsville University defeated visiting Greenville College 21-7 Saturday to claim its first National Christian College Athletic Association Victory Bowl championship.
The championship is the first of any kind for the Fighting Tigers since they claimed a Mid-South Conference title in 1997. Campbellsville lost in last year’s Victory Bowl.
“The senior class has been asking ourselves, ‘How are we going to be remembered?'” Campbellsville senior linebacker Dwight Houston said after the game at Campbellsville’s Finley Stadium. “To go out as champions in a hard-fought game like this is an honor, a real honor. I’ve been here four years, and there’s not been a better feeling. This is it.”
Campbellsville relied on a strong defensive effort to stop Greenville’s option attack. The Tigers’ trio of linebackers (Houston, Nick Reed and Blake Young) combined for 27 tackles, while the defense held Greenville to 164 yards of total offense.
“You could tell our guys were hungry for this win. In breakfast this morning you could see a different focus,” Campbellsville head coach Perry Thomas said. “They came out here and did what they needed to do against a very good football team.”
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on the second play of the game, a 58-yard pass from Bobby Leonard to Diaz Bolden. Greenville quickly answered with an 86-yard kickoff return by Tre Lewis to tie the game.
Campbellsville took the lead for good late in the first half, when Darius Skinner slapped the ball loose from Greenville quarterback Brendan Chambers, and Rodrick Dickerson picked it up and returned the fumble 82 yards for the score.
The Tigers added a field goal and two safeties in the second half to seal the win.
The day prior to the game, players from both teams worked together on several service projects in the local community. Cody Hutchin, a wide receiver from Greenville College, spent his time at Kentucky Christian Academy and gave his testimony to a fourth-grade class.
“Aside from the Christian community, this doesn’t ever happen; having two football teams come together to eat together and work on service projects together,” Hutchin said. “That in itself should show the power of Christ and show what the love of Jesus and being a Christian is all about…. I feel that what we did today is more important than what is happening on the field anyway, just being an example of Christ.”
Greenville College, located in Greenville, Ill., is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church and has an enrollment of about 1,600.
Campbellsville finishes its season 7-5 for the second straight year. Participants in the Victory Bowl are the top two teams in NCCAA football that didn’t qualify for the playoffs in NAIA or NCAA competition. An NCCAA committee selects the two teams based on record and a computer rating system.
Compiled by Tim Ellsworth, editor of BP Sports (www.bpsports.net). Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).