CLINTON — Union County encountered Clinton’s ground and pound offense on Friday night and the result was a 38-35 region loss.
The Jackets offense was out of sync from the opening kickoff and after three plays was forced to punt.
Clinton went to work from the ground and on its first play from scrimmage reached the end zone with a 35-yard run courtesy of fullback Matthias Williams. The point-after-kick was good for the early 7-0 lead.
Facing fourth and 12, the Jackets faked a punt and quarterback Keiston Smith took the snap. However, his pass fell incomplete and the Red Devils took over on downs from the 17-yard line. Three plays later, Clinton extended its lead to 14-0 with a 3-yard touchdown run and successful PAT.
Smith scratched Union County’s first points across the board with a 9-yard quarterback keep but Brandon Shetley’s point-after-kick was blocked for a 14-6 score two minutes into the second quarter.
The Red Devils continued to chew time off the clock with a seven minute drive that resulted in a field goal and a 17-6 halftime score.
The Jackets attempted an onside kick to open the third but Clinton recovered at midfield and marched to the end-zone to extend its lead to 24-6 with the successful PAT.
Midway through the frame Union County answered with a 23-yard screen pass to Trayvon Davis that set up a 40-yard touchdown haul by Victor Ruth. However, the Jackets failed on the two-point-conversion attempt for a 24-12 ballgame.
Clinton opened the fourth with a Williams touchdown run and the PAT put the Devils ahead 31-12.
Union County responded with a 9-yard quarterback keep for six points and a successful two-point-conversion.
A Clinton fumble recovered by Braylon Brown on the 42-yard line brought out the Jackets offense and Smith found Ruth in the end-zone for a 13-yard touchdown with 9:13 remaining.
The Red Devils chipped away at the clock before scoring with 3:10 left in the game and the PAT gave Clinton a 10-point advantage.
Foster reeled in a 46-yard catch to slice into the Clinton lead and Shetley’s PAT kept Union County’s hopes alive with 2:41 to go.
The Red Devils fumbled on third down and Union County defensive end Jamarcus Henderson came up with the ball to give the Jackets one last chance at a comeback.
Foster pulled down a 26-yard pass from Smith and Ruth followed with a 15-yard reception.
Smith ran the ball to the 10-yard line but it wasn’t enough to move the sticks and with .23 on the clock Union County burned its last timeout.
A quarterback scramble for five yards brought up second and goal.
The Jackets were not interested in a field goal.
As the clock wound down Smith dropped back to pass and Clinton brought the house, soundly ending the game with a sack to hand Union County its second road loss of the season.
“We did fight at the end,” said Union County Head Coach Steve Taneyhill. “We made some plays, just not enough to win.”