Jackets rebound with 41-6 win
By BRIAN WHITMORE
Sports Editor - Union Daily Times
GREER - A trip to Riverside after a tough loss was good medicine for the Union Yellow Jackets.
Union defeated Riverside 41-6 on Friday night at the Reservation, rebounding from last week's loss to Newberry, which lost 28-10 to Clinton.
"We're real happy to win," said Union coach Mike Anthony. "Our kids feel a lot better about themselves than they did this time last week."
Newberry's loss sets up a Region III-AAA championship showdown next week, as Union host Greer.
"Get ready for next week, because it's going to be a war," said Anthony. "If they don't play, I'll be very surprised. I'm excited about being in Union and I guess Greer thinks their coming to win the region championship."
So Union won't have much time to enjoy the Riverside rout, as impressive as it was. Union's defense held Riverside to 101 yards total offense and eight first downs, while the Jacket offense racked up 362 yards total offense. Eirish Stevens led the way for Union with 24 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Union opened the second half, already with a comfortable 22-6 halftime lead.
Tyrone Chick caught a 2-yard pass from Knox and turned it into a 54-yard play to get Union in scoring position. The drive stalled on penalties, but Nick Maness kicked a 24-yard field goal to extend the lead.
Riverside's Michael Pettit intercepted Union quarterback Justin Knox's pass, one of few highlights for the Warriors. But Rashaad Jackson got the ball right back for the Jackets, with a hit on quarterback Michael Wade that caused a fumble, which Union recovered at the Riverside 6-yard line. Justin Knox scored a 1-yard touchdown on a sneak and Maness' PAT gave Union a 32-6 lead.
Union's defense got its second safety of the night, tackling Wade in the endzone on the Warriors' next possession. The Jackets took the free kick and Stevens ran 43 yards on four plays, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good for the final score.
The fourth quarter gave Jacket fans a glimpse of the future, with several younger players, including several JV athletes getting playing time. Steven Brewington and Chris Owens got quality minutes on offense. Terrell Curenton off the JV team had a 15-yard sack.
Riverside was glad to see the backups, anything but the first wave of the Jacket attack.
The first play of the game was a sign of things to come for Riverside, as Union's Jeremy Littlejohn intercepted a Wade pass.
Mickey Callahan caught a 23-yard pass from Knox to set up a 33-yard touchdown run by Chick on a reverse.
Union's defense scored on Riverside's next drive, with a swarm of Jackets tackling Wade in the endzone for a safety.
Union took the free kick and quickly scored, with C.J. Lott catching a 24-yard touchdown pass from Knox. Maness kicked the PAT to give Union a 16-0 lead.
"We worked really hard in practice," he said. "I saw focus tonight. We came out and scored 16 quick points."
Riverside got on the board with a 41-yard Richard Jackson field goal. The Warriors then recovered a Knox fumble, but couldn't capitalize, with Kendrick Lyles sacking Wade twice for 24 yards and forcing a punt.
The offense then went back to work, driving 50 yards in nine plays. Stevens scored on a 1-yard run on fourth down. The PAT failed.
Riverside's Jackson kicked a 45-yard field goal with six second left in the half. He missed a 40-yard attempt in the second half. His kicks were the Warriors' only scoring opportunities.
First downs: Union 14; Riverside 8
Turnovers: Union 4; Riverside 4
Penalties: Union 6-55; Riverside 3-35
Rushing: Union 218; Riverside 87
Passing Union 144; Riverside 14
Total: Union 362; Riverside 101
Union Individual Stats
Rushing: Eirish Stevens 24-148; Justin Knox 6- -3; Tyrone Chick 1-33; Pip Smith 2-1; Kendrick Lyles 1-3; Steven Brewington 6-23.
Receiving: C.J. Lott 11-56; Tyrone Chick 3-65; Mikey Callahan 1-23.
Passing: Knox 9-18-144.
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