First Time Ever

By BRIAN WHITMORE
Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

History was made Friday night. Union defeated Spartanburg 19-14 at the Union County Stadium and for the first time ever the Jackets have back-to-back wins over the Vikings. Union defeated Spartanburg 24-21 to open the 2002 season. Justin Knox quick-kicked the football with seven seconds left in the game to run out the clock.

"What a great job, our entire staff made a great decision to kick that thing and get that seven seconds off; I used both time outs before I could figure out what to do," said Union coach Mike Anthony. Union dominated the first half and led 12-0 going into the fourth quarter. Then Spartanburg mounted a comeback.

Tripp Taylor intercepted a Knox pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown getting the Vikings on the board. David Acosta's PAT pulled Spartanburg within one score.

But Union answered with an impressive scoring drive, highlighted by a 37-yard Tyrone Chick catch. Knox scored on a 6-yard touchdown run and Nick Maness connected on the PAT to give Union a 19-7 lead.

Spartanburg wasn't done, as tailback Donavan Gist almost single-handedly marched the Vikings 91 yards, scoring on a 4-yard run. Acosta's PAT brought Spartanburg within five points with 3:17 left in the game.

However, Union's Jason Cameron recovered the ensuring onside kick, Knox converted on a pivotal third down run with 2:13 left and the Jackets were able to run out the clock.

"I'm real proud of our kids, they just kept hanging and hanging," said Anthony. The third quarter was all Jackets defense. Spartanburg ate up the entire quarter rushing the ball, but couldn't find the end zone, denied on three consecutive red zone trips.

The Viking marched downfield to open the second half, all the way to the Union 6-yard line, but the Jackets' defense made an impressive goal line stand, as Travis Norris flushed out Spartanburg quarterback Darius Kelly, whose fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

Spartanburg again threatened on its next series, driving to the Union 3-yard line, but Troy Epps stripped Kelly of the ball and Jamar Porter recovered the fumble.

The Vikings kept coming, again penetrating deep into Union territory, but this time Rashaad Jackson and Troy Epps tackled Kelly on a key third down play. Kelly's pass fell incomplete on fourth down, as the Jackets again held to open the fourth quarter.

"Our defense just played their behinds off, series after series and created a turnover," said Anthony.

Union jumped on top with 2:35 left in the first quarter, when Lott caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Knox. The score was set up by a 32-yard run by Eirish Stevens and a 15-yard reception by Lott. The PAT failed on a bad snap.

The Jackets' second score came with 7:28 left in the second quarter, as Smith scored on a 15-yard touchdown run. Two Lyles catches (34 and 20 yards) set up the score. The two-point conversion pass was no good. "This is a great first step," said Anthony. "It's a long season as everybody knows. I'll tell you this, our kids have got a lot of heart."

Game Stats
Rushing: Union, 103; Spartanburg, 269
Passing: Union, 189; Spartanburg, 12
Penalties: Union, 7-43; Spartanburg, 5-24
Turnovers: Union, one; Spartanburg, one fumble

Individual stats
Passing: Justin Knox, 12-31-1
Rushing: Eirish Stevens, 6-51
Receiving: Kendrick Lyles, 4-67; Tyrone Chick, 4-46; C.J. Lott, 4-73

 

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