Gaffney shocks Union, 21-15

Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

GAFFNEY - Union's bid for an undefeated season was ended Friday night, as the Jackets lost 21-15 to arch-rival Gaffney.
It was billed as a clash of Titans - Gaffney, the No. 7 4A team, against Union, the No. 1 3A team - and the game lived up to the hype in a classic battle before 10,000 plus fans at "The Reservation" in Gaffney.

Union came back from a 15-point halftime deficit to tie the game early in the fourth quarter on a 33-yard touchdown run by quarterback Justin Knox.

But Knox was intercepted on Union's next series by Josiah Childs, who returned the ball 30 yards for the winning touchdown with 5:46 remaining.

"This is my loss, not these kids, they played their butts off in the second half," said Union coach Mike Anthony. "I'm pleased with the way they came back. I told them at halftime there was no panic. Our defense came out and shut them out the second half. Gaffney's a good football team."

The loss ended an 11-game Union win streak and perhaps one of the Jackets' best chances at an undefeated season.
"We wanted to win all the games and that was their goal, but now we just refocus and start it all over," said Anthony. "I saw so many positives. We didn't play real smart and made some mistakes. The kids have to learn from those mistakes."

Trailing 15-0, Union got things going late in the third quarter. Tyrone Chick caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Knox and Nick Maness' PAT pulled the Jackets within 8-points. The scoring drive covered 93 yards in eight plays and was highlighted by long Knox runs and a 20-yard Chick reception.

Union struck early in the fourth quarter with Knox's touchdown run. The drive covered 74 yards in nine plays almost entirely on the legs of Knox.

But despite Knox's brilliant play, the interception killed the Jacket momentum. Union's final drive resulted in a three-and-out. Gaffney took the ball, found its running game and ran out the clock, aided by an encroachment call on Union that turned a fourth down into a first down for the Indians.

For the game, Union gave up 18 points on three turnovers. Gaffney controlled the first half, dominating the time of possession, holding the football twice as long as Union.

The Indians first scoring drive came after a Kendrick Lyles fumble on a punt return. Gaffney covered 53 yards in eight plays. Myron Whisonantš's 15-yard catch helped set up a 4-yard A.J. Littlejohn touchdown run. Landon Ellis' PAT was blocked.
After a Union punt, Gaffney drove 54 yards in 12 plays, scoring on a 27-yard Justin Harris field goal. Highlights of the drive were  long  catches by Whisonant (24 yards), Sidney Rice (15 yards) and Malcolm Long (10 yards) from quarterback Antonio Gaffney. Union's defense was able to keep Gaffney out of the end zone, despite penetration inside the 10-yard line.

The Jackets had one sustained drive in the first half on the legs of Knox and Eirish Stevens. But a Knox's pass to Pip Smith fell incomplete on fourth down to end the drive.

With 26 seconds left in the half, Andy Strickland intercepted Knox. Two plays later, Donald Sims caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Antonio Gaffney with 11 seconds left. The two-point conversion was no good.

"This is on me, every bit of it," said Anthony. "When they went into prevent right before the half I still let them throw the football and we should have just ran the clock out."

Total offense: Gaffney 64-345; Union 48-273
Rush: Union 28-177; Gaffney 38-124
Pass: Gaffney 15-26-221; Union 9-20-96-2 INTs
Penalties: Gaffney 10-85; Union 6-40
Turnovers: Union, 2 INTs, 1 fumble; Gaffney, none
Rushing: Gaffney - Trevon Greene 11-75; A.J. Littlejohn 17-40. Union - Justin Knox 16-119-1TD; Eirish Stevens 8-30; De'Rail Sims 3-15.
Passing: Gaffney - Antonio Gaffney 15-25-221-1TD. Union - Justin Knox 9-20-96-2-1TD.
Receiving: Gaffney - Sidney Rice 7-108; Nick Melton 3-17; Myron Whisonant 2-42; Donald Sims 2-43. Union - C.J. Lott 3-23; Tyrone Chick 2-52; Pip Smith 2-17; Kendrick Lyles 2-10.


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