CHAPIN — The Union County Yellow Jackets picked up their third straight playoff game on the road Friday and will play South Pointe this Friday for the Upper State Championship.
After Union County’s big win over Greer, Head Coach Steve Taneyhill said his team plays with a different confidence in the post-season, and they proved that again Friday with a 51-21 win over Chapin.
“The best thing about the last few weeks is seeing my boys happy and smiling,” Taneyhill said. “Starting out 0-4 was tough on them but they never lost faith, and we have been playing some really good football. We have had some players really step up the last few weeks, and that’s what it takes to win playoff games.”
Since summer practice, the team’s motto this season has been “Together.”
“This team — players and coaches — have stuck together and it is so much fun to be apart of it,” Taneyhill said.
The first points were put on the board Friday night in Chapin when Union County’s Douglas Brannon broke a tackle to score a touchdown, giving the Yellow Jackets a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Chapin answered back with a touchdown of their own with the PAT, leading Union County 7-6.
In the second quarter, Brannon scored again and Union County was successful with the PAT, making the score 13-6. Then, Union County’s J.D. Cheek made a huge play by intercepting a Chapin pass and returning it to Union County’s 40-yard line. Union County’s Ty Thomas ran in the touchdown, giving the Yellow Jackets a 20-7 lead.
With one minute left in the half, Chapin returned a kickoff and scored, narrowing Union County’s lead to 20-14, which remained through the half.
In the third quarter, Union County fumbled their first possession, with Chapin getting a flag for illegal participation and getting a first down after their punt. The Eagles then ran a trick play for a touchdown, taking the 21-20 lead.
Union County answered with a field goal, taking back over with a score of 23-21. The next score came from another big play by J.D. Cheek, resulting in a touchdown and a 30-21 lead for the Yellow Jackets. Then, with one minute remaining in the third quarter, the Jackets scored again, increasing their lead to 37-21.
In the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets added another touchdown, leading Chapin 44-21. With less than four minutes left in the game, Shi Smith ran in a touchdown, making the score 51-21.
QB De’Airrius Smith passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 110 yards and another score. All of Smith’s TDs landed in the hands of Douglas Brannon, who had five catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns. J.D. Cheek had multiple tackles and two interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
This Friday, Union County will go on the road to take on defending state champs South Pointe in the Upper State Championship. This game is a rematch from a region game earlier in the season, which South Pointe won by a score of 17-14.
“They have beat us this season, but so did Greer,” Taneyhill said. “We are a completely different team than we were on that rainy night in October, and we are playing with way more confidence now. Our defense is creating turnovers and putting a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. We will need that this week.”
Taneyhill said his offense must be balanced with running and passing and find ways to make a few big plays this Friday.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.