Slow start costs Jackets



Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

GREER - Union County dug a hole and couldn't climb out.

Riverside defeated the Yellow Jackets 35-18 on Friday night. It was a tale of two halves, with the Warriors dominating the first half and UCHS playing much better in the second half.

"They really took it to us in the first half," said Jacket coach David Lipsey. "I thought we were awful slow and not very aggressive in the first half. In the second half, I thought we played much better and got after it a little more."

The Warriors had their way in the first half with 14 first downs, 150 yards passing and 70 yards rushing. The Jackets only had three first downs and 123 yards in the first half.

Riverside scored on its opening drive, going 64 yards in 11-plays and all through the air. Quarterback Matt Pegler went 9-of-11 on the drive.

Dominique Gause caught five passes, one for 20 yards, before he grabbed a 6-yard touchdown pass from Pegler. The kick was good.

Shaun Rogers quickly intercepted a Jackets' pass and Riverside capitalized, converting a fake field goal on fourth down to set up an 18-yard touchdown run by Micario Shaw. The kick gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Riverside drove 45 yards in eight plays, mixing the pass and run. Pegler ran 1-yard for the score and the kick was true.

With 1:39 left in the half, Shaw caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Pegler. The kick gave the Warriors a 28-0 lead.

Union County's offense finally got something going at the end of the first half, going 70 yards on the strength of a 36-yard Marcus Whitener run and a hook and ladder play. Kierre Smith made the catch and pitched back to Marcus Whitener for a 29-yard gain, which set up an 11-yard touchdown pass from Dwight Brannon to Marcus Lott with 26.8 seconds left. The kick failed and Riverside led 28-6 at the half.

The only highlights for UCHS in the first half were two interceptions - Colby Hawkins and Marcus Lott. Lott's pick came as Riverside was threatening to score.

The Jackets opened the second half with a 67-yard touchdown run by Whitener.

The two-point pass was intercepted.

The UCHS defense played much better, shutting down the Warriors high octane offense. Riverside had just 42 yards offense in the second half.

"I thought our defense tightened up with our coverage and got a lot more pressure in the second half," said Lipsey. "Our offense made a couple plays for us. We played much better in the second half."

In the fourth quarter, after the defense had won the battle for field position, Union County's offense capitalized with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brannon to Jeremy Porter with 5:01 left in the game. The two-point conversion pass was stopped short, but the Jackets were suddenly within 10 points, 28-18.

Riverside recovered an onside kick and drove 42 yards to score, staying on the ground and eating clock. Dashawn Goodwin ran for a 7-yard touchdown. The kick added insult to injury.

The Warriors then intercepted Union County on its final possession with seconds left. Riverside (6-1, 4-0) took a knee to remain undefeated in Region II-3A.

UCHS (3-4, 2-2) hosts undefeated Blue Ridge on Friday. It will be the Jackets' homecoming game.

"They are an excellent football team," said Lipsey. "They haven't been beaten. We have to get better and get ready for Blue Ridge."

Riverside 35, Union County 18
UCHS         0    6   6  6 - 18
Riverside  14  14  0  7 - 35
R - Gause 6 pass from Pegler (Painter kick)
R - Shaw 18 run (Painter kick)
R - Pegler 1 run (Pegler kick)
R - Shaw 64 pass from Pegler (Painter kick)
U - Lott 11 pass from Brannon (kick failed)
U - Whitener 67 run (conversion failed)
U - Porter 14 pass from Brannon (conversion failed)
R - Goodwin 7 run (Painter kick)
Total Yards: Riverside 265 (71 running, 194 passing); UCHS 226 (170 running, 66 passing)
Turnovers: UCHS 3, Riverside 2
Penalties: UCHS 67 yards, Riverside 30 yards.
Individual: Whitener 163 yards rushing.

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