Union turns over win to Clinton
By BRIAN WHITMORE
Sports Editor - Union Daily Times
Six Union turnovers led to a 28-7 Clinton victory on Friday night in the upper state championship game.
Clinton (11-3) will play Strom Thurmond (13-1) for the Class 3A state championship next Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Strom Thurmond beat Dillon 35-7 in the lower state title game.
The story of the game was Union mistakes - three interceptions, three fumbles and a key roughing the kicker penalty. Clinton, Union's Region III-3A rival, made the most of the Jacket miscues.
"You're always disappointed when you don't come out on top, but they've got nothing to be ashamed of," said Union coach Tommy Bobo. "It just wasn't one of our better games and that's a tribute to Clinton."
"They laid it on the line. They were very hungry for it. They made some plays when we made some miscues. My hats off to coach (Andy) Young and his staff. Region III is going to be represented in the state championship."
Clinton took the opening kickoff and drove 57 yards in eight plays, all on the grown. The big play was a pitch sweep to Pewee Valentine, who ran for 24 yards and set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Freddie Byrd.
Two plays later, Byrd intercepted a Cameron Willis pass, but Union's defense held.
On the Jackets next drive, Corey Wilbanks intercepted Willis. Union's defense again held, but Kierre Smith fumbled the punt and Clinton recovered on the Union 17.
Clinton quarterback Dontavious Glenn threw a touchdown pass to Byrd. Eli Watts kicked his second point-after and the Red Devils led 14-0.
Justin Brown intercepted Willis on Union's next possession. The Jacket defense again held. But again the Jacket offense gave the ball back to Clinton on a Willis fumble.
Sam Wilson, who led the way for Clinton with 118 yards rushing, broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run. The kick was good and the Devils led 21-0 at the half.
The third quarter started well for Union, which took the kickoff and marched 57 yards in five plays for pay dirt. Jarvis Griffin caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Willis and David Gregory booted the extra-point.
The Jacket defense then forced Clinton to punt and the momentum seemed to have turned.
But Willis fumbled and Clinton recovered. The Devils took over on the Union 35.
Union's defense again stopped Clinton, which attempted a 37-yard field goal.
But the Jackets ran into the kicker and Clinton was able able to convert on fourth and inches to extend the drive. Wilson scored on a 1-yard run and Watts booted the PAT to give the Devils a 28-7 lead.
Union's most promising drive of the fourth quarter ended on an incomplete pass. Clinton continued to grind clock and came out on top.
The loss ends a remarkable run by the Jackets, who started the year at 0-5,
but fought back to finish 7-7, one game away from the state championship
"That's a tribute to the players and assistant coaches," said Bobo. "They stayed together and fought through a lot of adverse situations."
Now Union will regroup and look to next year.
"I can't say enough about our senior class," said Bobo. "They've been great leaders for us. They never quit, regardless of what the circumstances or situation was. It's awful tough to see those guys walking off. We're shedding tears for them, because they don't have another opportunity, but they sure have laid a good foundation for our underclassmen."
Notes: Union had two injuries - Jarvis Griffin (possible ACL), Rodrick
Clinton 28, Union 7
Union 0 0 7 0 - 7
Clinton 7 14 7 0 - 28
First downs: Union 9, Clinton 8
Rushing: Union 64; Clinton 221
Passing: Union 117; Clinton 17
Total: Union 181; Clinton 238
Penalties: Union 3-15; Clinton 7-55
Turnovers: Union 6 (3 fumbles, 3 interceptions); Clinton 0
Union - Cameron Willis 8-21-117
Clinton - Dontavious Glenn 1-2-17
Union - Kendrick Neal 13-44, Troy Epps 4-20, Cameron Willis 6-(-8), Rodrick Gilmore 1-8
Clinton - Sam Wilson 22-118, Freddie Byrd 23-81.
Union - Jarvis Griffin 2-22, Kierre Smith 1-11, Jack Arthur 1-7, Kendrick Neal 1-13, Dontee Stewart 1-22, LJ Mobley 1-5, Travis Sims 1-37
Clinton - Freddie Byrd 1-17.
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