Jackets fight hard - fall to 0-3

 

By GRAHAM WILLIAMS
Managing Editor - Union Daily Times

GAFFNEY - Three games into the football season, Union High faces a good news-bad news situation: The bad new is the Yellow Jackets are 0-3. The good news is they don't have any Big 16 teams left on their schedule.

A banged-up Union team visited the Reservation Friday night and played a good first half before eventually losing to the Gaffney Indians 31-7.

"There were areas we did get better," coach Tommy Bobo said after the game. "We played extremely good in the first half but in the second half we didn't capitalize. Our kids played hard and they will continue to work."

Missing their starting quarterback and fullback, the Yellow Jackets were dealt another blow when two-way star Troy Epps was injured early in the third quarter. Although Epps was carried off the field on a stretcher, coach Tommy Bobo said after the game that he was in good spirits and the actions taken by emergency medical workers were precautionary.

Union threatened to score on its opening possession, moving from its own 28-yard line to the Gaffney 23 behind the running of Kendrick Neal and the passing of sophomore quarterback Bryce Duckett, who took over for the injured Cameron Willis. The drive fizzled, however, and two straight incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Indians.

The Yellow Jacket defense, meanwhile, contained Gaffney's potent offense, forcing the Indians to punt twice in the first quarter.

Union had a golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard early in the second period when the ball was stripped from Gaffney quarterback Malcolm Long and the Yellow Jackets recovered at the Indians 34-yard line. Rodrick Gilmore came on for an injured Duckett and moved the team to the Gaffney 16, but on third down he was sacked for a 10-yard loss and David Gregoryıs 46-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Gaffney's slumbering offense woke up and the Indians drove 80 yards in seven plays with Charles Smith running the final 37 yards for the game's first score with 9:23 remaining in the half.

The Indians added another touchdown just before halftime when Long found Ryan Burton from two yards out, capping an eight-play 54-yard drive. The bulk of the yardage came on an apparent 49-yard scoring pass from Long to Cameron Tate, but the Indians were penalized 10 yards for an illegal block, moving the ball back to the 19.

Gaffney took a 21-0 lead on its first possession of the second half when Smith caught a swing pass from Long and ran seven yards to the end zone, completing a 57-yard drive.

Smith provided the bulk of the yardage for the Indians, running for 31 yards on four carries. On the night, he rushed for 157 yards 19 attempts.

Union avoided a shutout on Gaffney's next possession when Billy Jennings intercepted a Long pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Gregory's point-after kick cut the deficit to 21-7.

A pair of fourth-quarter interceptions by Gaffney led to the Indians' last two scores, a five-yard run by Smith and a 32-yard field goal from Harris. Union returns home Friday night to face 3-A foe Fairfield Central.

Union    - 0    0   7    0 -  7
Gaffney - 0  14   7  10 - 31

Statistics
First downs: Union 11, Gaffney 12
Yards rushing: Union 46, Gaffney 214
Yards passing: Union 45, Gaffney 62
Passes, A-C-I: Union 5-18-2, Gaffney 7-15-1
Penalties: Union 4-30, Gaffney 11-95
Punts: Union 4-32.0, Gaffney 3-33.0

Individual statistics
Rushing: Neal (U) 13-22; Smith (G) 19-157
Passing: Duckett (U) 3-11-1, Gilmore (U) 2-7-1; Long (G) 7-15-1
Receiving: Stewart (U) 1-13, Epps (U) 1-14, Smith (U) 1-15; Tate (G) 1-30, Good (G) 3-36

 

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