UNION COUNTY — A thrilling, back-and-forth football game ended with Union County falling to the Chapman Panthers by one point on Thursday.
The Yellow Jackets were on the road in Inman for a special Thursday night game against the Panthers. Both teams went into the game with 0-3 records for region play, with a win being crucial for playoff hopes.
The entire first half of the game was a defensive showdown, with neither team getting points on the board. Then, at the beginning of the third quarter, Chapman QB Malik Gray scored a 57-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead over Union County.
During the next drive, Union County’s sophomore QB Dierrus Smith connected with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Brown. Thursday’s game was the first in which Smith had started as QB. Union County missed the extra point, making it a one-point game with a score of 7-6.
With less than 1:33 left in the third quarter, Gray connected with a touchdown pass to Dashawn Davis, increasing Chapman’s lead to 13-6.
Into the fourth quarter, Smith ran in a three-yard touchdown, making the score 13-12. Union County attempted to take the lead with a two-point conversion, and an illegal hit from Chapman restarted the play. On Union County’s second try at the conversion, the play was busted, and the score remained 13-12.
With 8:20 left in the game, Union County’s Blake Berry connected on a 36-yard field goal, and Union County took back the lead with a score of 15-13.
With 38.4 seconds left in the game, Chapman kicker Brian Rubacalva kicked what proved to be a game-winning 20-yard field goal, giving Chapman a 16-15 lead.
In an attempt to come back, Union County’s Smith connected with a 43-yard pass to T.J. Foster, but the Yellow Jackets fumbled a snap — which was called intentional grounding — with 0.4 seconds left, taking the Yellow Jackets out of field goal range.
Union County’s Jamarcus Henderson continued to make an impact on defense as he delivered four sacks and a number of tackles.