Riverside stuns Union 42-32

 

By GRAHAM WILLIAMS
Managing Editor - Union Daily Times

Last year, Riverside High needed a state-record field goal and a long kickoff return to defeat Union.

This year, it needed no such heroics as the Warriors led from start to finish and left Union County Stadium with a 42-32 victory over the Yellow Jackets.

Riverside (4-3, 2-2) scored on its first two possessions of the game and kept Union in its rear-view mirror all night. The Warriors used a balanced attack on offense, with quarterback Matt Pegler throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns while running back Logan Whichard rushed for 90 yards and scored three times. Pegler's favorite target was wide receiver Tray Williams, who caught eight passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Union (2-5, 2-2) closed the gap to 14-9 when Whichard was tackled in the end zone for a safety and then Willis connected with LJ Mobley on a 40-yard scoring pass.

Pegler found Williams for a 31-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but Union retaliated when Willis and Mobley hooked up for a 10-yard score and the Yellow Jackets trailed by 21-16 with 4:09 left in the first half.

Willis completed 12 of 31 pass attempts for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Mobley was on the receiving end of seven passes for 121 yards and all three scores. Kierre Smith, who had a big game last week against Eastside, was held in check by the Warrior defense, gaining just 38 yards on 15 carries.

Riverside added two more touchdowns - a controversial 22-yard pass from Pegler to Williams that the crowd thought was dropped in the end zone and a 12-yard screen pass to Whichard with 21.5 seconds left to give the Warriors a 35-16 lead.

Willis hit Mobley on a fade route from 10-yards out in the third quarter and Jack Arthur caught a two-point conversion pass that caromed off a Riverside defender to cut the deficit to 35-24 with 5:58 remaining in the third quarter.

Union got the ball back on the Warriors' next possession when Colby Hawkins pounced on a fumbled pitch at the Riverside 36-yard line, but the Yellow Jackets were unable to convert and turned the ball over on downs.

Missed opportunities hurt Union several times during Friday's game.

In the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets were stopped on fourth-and-goal at the Warriors' 1-yard-line. Union took the second-half kickoff and drove from its 46-yard-line to Riverside's 3, but on fourth-and-goal, a pass from Willis to Mobley fell incomplete. An intercepted pass set up Riverside's final score, a one-yard plunge by Whichard for a 42-24 lead with 5:26 left in the game.

Sophomore left-hander Bo Whitney came on for Willis and directed Union on a 98-yard scoring drive, aided by a pair of 15-yard
penalties against the Warriors. He connected with Travis Sims three times for 12, 11 and 30 yards and then ran the ball in from a yard out with 17.6 seconds remaining, A two-point conversion pass to Mobley provided the final 10-point margin.

Riverside set the tone for the game on the opening kickoff when Micario Shaw returned the ball 70 yards to Union's 26-yard-line. Four plays later, Whichard scored on a 1-yard run for the Warriors' first touchdown.

After forcing Union to punt, Riverside drove from its 42-yard-line to Union's 13, but on second down, Pegler's pass was intercepted by Billy Jennings. However, instead of running straight ahead, Jennings tried to juke a tackler and the ball was knocked from his grasp into the end zone, where Riverside center Vernon Graham fell on it for the touchdown.

That bad luck play seemed to follow Union the rest of the evening.

The Yellow Jackets travel to Blue Ridge next Friday for their first encounter with the Tigers, a 56-6 loser to Clinton.

Riverside  14  21  0  7 - 42
Union       9   7  8  8 - 32

R - Whichard 1 run (Combs kick)
R - Graham fumble recovery (Combs kick)
U - Safety, Whichard tackled in end zone
U - Mobley 40 pass from Willis (Jackson kick)
R - Williams 31 pass from Pegler (Combs kick)
U - Mobley 10 pass from Willis (Jackson kick)
R - Williams 22 pass from Pegler (Combs kick)
R - Whichard 12 pass from Pegler (Combs kick)
U - Mobley 10 pass from Willis (Arthur pass from Willis)
R - Whichard 1 run (Combs kick)
U - Whitney 1 run (Mobley pass from Whitney)

Statistics
First downs - Riverside 15, Union 12
Yards rushing - Riverside 119, Union 32
Yards passing - Riverside 235, Union 209
Passing, A-C-I - Riverside 14-21-0, Union 16-31-1
Penalties - Riverside 11-130, Union 4-35
Punts - Riverside 7-30.5, Union 6-27.6

Individual statistics
Rushing - Whichard (R) 23-90; Smith (U) 15-38
Passing - Pegler (R) 14-21-0, 235 yards; Willis (U) 12-31-1, 154 yards, Whitney (U) 4-7-0, 58 yards
Receiving - Williams (R) 8-143, Whichard, 3-43, Roberts 2-18; Mobley (U) 7-121, Sims (U) 5-55, Crawford (U) 2-28.

 

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