Union looks good at Laurens scrimmage 

By PAUL DAVIS 

Fortunately for the four teams at Laurens High School’s Saturday scrimmage, the sun stayed in until the teams finished shortly after noon.

It may have been a scrimmage, but the on-field play was intense with pads popping and helmets cracking, probably the first time this season that teams have faced 11-on-11, full pads and wanting to hit somebody. Anybody.

The trip was worth it for the Jackets, as they faced 2005 3A state champion Strom Thurmond and 4A teams Northwestern and Laurens.

The format was unusual.

Each team was allowed eight, non-penalty offensive plays. At that point, the offense stated their drive, under game-day rules. As long as they moved the ball, they kept the drive alive. If held short on fourth down, the offense would leave the field, replaced by their defense and their opponent’s offense would take the field, starting at their own 25-yard line.

After the eight plays plus drive series was finished, teams swapped fields and repeat the process against a new team.

Once all teams had faced each other, they started a second, identical rotation.

The Jackets drew Strom Thurmond’s offense, holding them in check over the first eight plays, allowing just 25 yards in the air, none on the ground.

Once they started the drive, Strom Thurmond kicked it up a notch, driving down the field on its passing game, in the face of a strong rush by Union’s front three. 
Taking advantage of the hard pass rush, Strom Thurmond executed a perfect screen for the only TD scored on Union Saturday.

Union’s offense couldn’t seem to get started against Strom Thurmond and the drive terminated with an interception.

The Jackets’ offense then took the field against Laurens, with their drive again stopped with an interception. 

Lauren’s first eight plays were nothing special either and neither was their drive.

Back to the first field where they faced Northwestern, the Jackets shut down the Trojans’ running game.

On the drive, Northwestern started to experience some success with the pass, getting two first downs before being stopped with a 10-yard loss on fourth down.

When the Jackets’ offense took the field under freshman quarterback Keiston Stevens, Union was able to move the ball over the first eight plays. And then on the drive, after one running play for nine yards, Union put it in the end zone with a pass.

Facing Strom Thrumond for the second time, Union successfully moved the ball on the first eight plays, primarily through the air. On the drive, the Jackets scored on a pass to L.J. Mobley, who grabbed the ball from a defensive back and jogged into the end zone.

On offense, Strom Thrumond again emphasized the pass but saw its drive stopped by a fumble.

Against Laurens, the Jacket offense struggled during the first eight plays, but came alive and scored with a 30-yard scoring pass from Cameron Willis.

The Jackets then held Laurens to just four offensive drive plays.

Facing Northwestern for the last time, the Jackets put on a powerful scoring drive, led by great running by tailback Freddie Bates, who shredded the Bearcats’ secondary — one run for 25 yards — and fullback Calvin Rice, who moved the pile time and time again.

Strom Thrumond responded with its own drive which ended with a fumble on the 1-yard line.

Four quarterbacks, four touchdowns. A positive kicking game, with Brooke Jackson making all her extra point attempts, plus a non-counting field goal. And just one touchdown by an opposing team. “Real fun,” said center Brian Gossett. “Real fun.” “Whole lot better than last year,” said another Jacket. And that summed up coach Tommy Bobo’s feelings and the other coaches. “Good effort,” said Bobo. “Take care of yourself over the weekend. Get hydrated. This is your first step.

You get better Monday.” Clearly, the Jackets are on the move. ——The journey continues: Union County Jamboree Thursday. Be there. 

 

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