Underdog Jackets Victorious

 

By: Graham Williams - Union Daily Times

GREENVILLE - On paper, the game probably should not have been close.

Fortunately for Union, football games are decided on the field. The Yellow Jackets, a 12th seed, upset fifth-seeded Greenville, 21-14, to advance to the second round of the state 3-A playoffs.

Rodricius Henderson intercepted a Red Raider pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to preserve the victory.

Union (5-6) earned a rematch with Greer (10-1) which defeated the Yellow Jackets by a 16-9 margin a week ago.

"We're awful excited right now," coach Tommy Bobo said after the game. "It doesn't matter who you play as long as you get to play."

Union entered Friday's game without a quarterback. Senior Cameron Willis (shoulder) and sophomore Bo Whitney (elbow) were injured in the Greer game and JV quarterback Keiston Stevens hurt his ankle, leaving the signal-calling to L.J. Mobley.

After a shaky start, the senior wide receiver finished the night by completing eight of 16 pass attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

"He really did a good job," Bobo said. "All of the players around him piked him up (with their play)."

Roderick Gilmore caught five passes for 71 yards and one touchdown.

Jay Crawford caught two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Fred Bates, returning to action after missing several games due to injury, rushed for 96 yards on 20 attempts and scored once.

"Bates came in and did a good job running the football," Bobo said.

Losing Willis also hurt Union's punting game and almost proved costly. Jakaia Anderson and Gilmore split time punting the ball, but neither was very effective, giving Greenville good field position with each kick. However, the Red Raiders were unable to convert the gifts into points. Once, they failed to get a first down on fourth-and-one at Union's 36-yard line; two other times they missed field goal opportunities - once on a muffed hold and the other when the kick sailed wide.

Greenville took an early lead on its second possession of the game as the Red Raiders drove 68 yards in nine plays behind the running and passing of quarterback Matt Lentz. A Shrine Bowl selection, Lentz scored on a 10-yard run to give Greenville a 7-0 advantage.

Union answered quickly, moving 66 yards in five plays to tie the game on Mobley's 29-yard scoring pass to Crawford with 2:13 left in the first quarter.

Wallace returned the ensuing kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown, but the play was called back on a clipping penalty and the half ended in a 7-7 tie.

The Red Raiders received the second half kickoff and this time they were mistake free, as Mike Davis raced 71 yards for the score and a 14-7 Greenville lead.

Lentz was injured late in the first half and was replaced by Wallace, who, like Mobley, was a threat to run the ball. He directed the Red Raiders from their own 22-yard-line to Union's 12, but the drive stalled and Bradley Williams missed a 37-yard field goal attempt. Union tied the game midway through the fourth quarter when Mobley found Gilmore on a three-yard scoring strike.

Seconds later, Wallace was intercepted by Brandon Jeter, who returned the ball to Greenville's 23-yard line, setting up Union's final score. Bates carried the ball three times, the last one from three yards out, and Union took its first lead, 21-14, with 6:02 left in the game.

The kicking game nearly came back to haunt Union, however. With less than two minutes to play, Mobley attempted a quick kick at Greenville's 43-yard line, but the ball sailed into a defender's hands and he returned it to the 49.

 From there, backup quarterback Matthew Roberts quickly moved his team downfield to Union's 10-yard line via passes to D.J. Jewels and Clarence Wallace. But on fourth-and-goal with five seconds left, his pass into the end zone was picked off by Henderson, setting off a celebration on the Union sidelines.

Union        7  0  0  14 - 21
Greenville   7  0  7   0 - 14

Scoring summary
G - Lentz 10 run (Williams kick)
U - Crawford 29 pass from Mobley (Jackson kick)
G - Davis 71 kickoff return (Williams kick)
U - Gilmore 3 pass from Mobley (Jackson kick)
U - Bates 2 run (Jackson kick)

Statistics
First downs - Union 11, Greenville 10
Yards rushing - Union 105, Greenville 68
Yards passing - Union 134, Greenville 117
Passing - Union 8-16-1, Greenville 9-26-3
Punts - Union 6-23, Greenville 3-33

Individual statistics
Rushing - Bates (U) 20-96, Mobley (U) 15-12; Lentz (G) 9-43, Wallace (G) 5-20, Jewels (G) 8-16,
Passing - Mobley (U) 16-8-1, 134 yards; Lentz (G) 4-10-1, 61 yards; Roberts (G) 4-10-1, 37 yards; Wallace (G) 2-5-1,

 

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