UNION — Union County took a couple of chances on offense to carry a 21-14 lead into intermission of Friday night’s season opener before going stagnate in the second half and falling 51-21 to Spartanburg.
On the opening series, Union County picked up 30 yards before hitting a snag and turning the ball over at mid-field. Quarterback Ben Beck lined up at wide-receiver to start the drive. Matt Barnett took the first snap of the game and connected with Beck on an eight-yard pass that put the Jackets on their own 29. A 12-yard pass to Braylin Brown moved the chains before a 1-yard carry and an incomplete pass forced Union County to send out the punt crew. The kick was faked and a nine-yard pass to Demarcus Brown brought the offense back out but Union County turned it over on downs three plays later.
Spartanburg’s Austin Scott reached the end zone on a quarterback keep from two yards midway through the first quarter and Tavien Feaster slipped in on a hand-off to give the Vikings an early 14-0 advantage. Union County opened the second frame with a 52-yard hookup between Matt Barnett and T.J. Foster to put the Jackets on the board but Blake Berry’s point-after kick was blocked for a score of 14-6.
The Union County defense came up with a stop on the next series and the offense went to work from its own 20-yard line. On third down, the Jackets found the end zone on a 72-yard reverse pass from Foster to Jordan Spencer and the successful PAT made it a 14-14 ballgame.
Shi Smith reeled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Beck and the PAT put the Jackets on top, 21-14.
A QB sac by Cameron Queen on third down forced Spartanburg to kick it away and Union County set up the offense from the 25-yard line. Barnett hit Foster with a 35-yard pass that put the Jackets on the 32-yard line before missing his target on the next two attempts. Beck re-entered in the QB slot and picked up five yards before Spartanburg took over on downs. The Vikings worked methodically down-field but were stopped at the goal line when Kennedy Beatty snagged an interception to end the first half.
Spartanburg opened the third quarter with a QB keep that knotted the game at 21-21. A couple of defensive turnovers cost the Jackets a pair of TD’s in the second half and Spartanburg’s Feaster reached the end zone twice for the 51-21 final.