Union County Wins

 

By BRIAN WHITMORE
Sports Editor - Union Daily times

The Union County Yellow Jackets won their first ever football game, defeating Spartanburg 15-7 on Friday night at Union County Stadium.

It was the first game since the merger of Union, Jonesville and Lockhart high schools. The stands were packed with Jackets fans and the team gave them plenty to cheer about.

"It was good to see the kids get that victory," said coach David Lipsey.

"They worked so hard and gone through so much. The assistant coaches worked really hard to make this a success."

"It wasn't pretty, but we pulled it out. We held on and you've got to credit our defense for keeping them out of the end zone."

"It was a good win and I'm just so happy for our guys."

Union County's defense came through big, holding Spartanburg to 107 yards total offense - 72 yards passing, 51 yards on a late pass, and 35 yards rushing.

"Our defense played fantastic," said Lipsey, giving credit to defensive coaches for well preparing the team.

The Yellow Jackets had 149 yards of offense - 114 yards rushing, led by Marcus Whitener and Kierre Smith; and 35 yards passing by Bo Whitney.

The first score of the game and Union County's first touchdown ever came when Kierre Smith scored on a 1-yard run with 21.4 seconds left in the first half.

The score capped a 11-play, 55-yard drive. A key play was an 8-yard catch by Kevin Dillard on fourth down to extend the drive.

Spartanburg fumbled the kickoff and UCHS recovered at the 10-yard line. Keiston Stevens kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2.8 seconds left and the Jackets led 9-0 at the half.

The Vikings struck back, opening the second half with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dee Jones. Chris Graham kicked the extra point.

Union County answered quickly with its own scoring drive. Marcus Whitener scored on a a 2-yard run for the final margin of victory.

The drive covered 68 yards in 10 plays. Whitener's running and a pass interference call on Spartanburg were keys.

"They've got a lot of character and I think it showed," said Lipsey of his team. "They just kept battling and pulled out a win. They showed a lot of heart."

After the score, it was up to the Jacket defense, which shut Spartanburg down. The Vikings best chance came at the end when Raquantin Miller caught a 51-yard pass to get SHS into scoring position with 43.7 seconds left at the Jacket 16-yard line. But Spartanburg's hopes died on a dropped pass on the 1-yard line on fourth down.

UCHS took a knee and the game was over. "We persevered and battled," said Lipsey. "That's a sign of kids that want to play together and want to win."

It was a night that the entire county came together and it showed with thunderous applause from a capacity crowd.

"I told the kids to look at the support," said Lipsey. "This county has come out to support them. I think they got excited about that. You could see their eyes light up, get big. It was big playing at home tonight. It  meant a lot. We credit our fans for cheering us on and picking us up when we were down. They did a great job."

Union County (1-0) travels to Dorman next Friday.

Game notes: UCHS players came through the crowd, through the stands, to take the field to Metalica's "Enter Sandman" and the fans loved it ... The Jackets will have to work on penalties. They were flagged 10 times for 75 yards. Spartanburg had 6 penalties for 30 yards ... Each team had a turnover ... UCHS had eight first downs and Spartanburg had just four ... At one point only one starter on the offensive line was in the game for Union County due to cramps. It was 90 degrees at the stadium at kickoff ... Lipsey was pleased with the effort, but acknowledged the team has much work ahead of them. "The effort is there, we just have to toughen up," he said. ... The schedule doesn't get easier with 4A Dorman and defending champ Gaffney ahead, but Lipsey said those games will toughen up his squad and make them better.

Union County 15, Spartanburg 7
UCHS  0  9  6  0  -  15
SHS     0  0  7  0   -  7

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