During his introductory press conference back in February, Union County Head Football Coach Steve Taneyhill announced that the Jackets would beat Spartanburg in 2012.
On Friday night at Gibbs Stadium, he held true to his word as Union County upset the home team favorites, 41-33.
The Jackets began a deliberate opening drive with eight plays for 53 yards, including two runs by quarterback Keiston Smith for 12 and 19 yards, before an interception brought the march to a halt. Spartanburg capitalized with a 26-yard touchdown on a reverse and a successful point-after kick gave the Vikings an early 7-0 lead which they padded with a second touchdown run after forcing the Jackets to a three and out.
A Spartanburg onside kick looked to spell trouble for Union County as the Vikings recovered the football and used a 19-yard run by Jaimee Bowe to reach the Jackets’ 28-yard line. A defensive stand resulted in a punt and the Union County offense went to work.
Smith connected with Kalay Jones for 13 yards and followed up with a pass over the middle to T.J. Foster for another 26 yards. After a quarterback keep for 3 yards and a Spartanburg penalty for five more, Smith went back to Foster whose 39-yard reception brought the Jackets to the 10-yard line. A handoff to Adrian Brown got Union County on the board and Brandon Shetley’s point-after kick cut the margin to 14-8.
Big defensive stops by Martez Crosby, Derek Good and Jared Fowler kept the Vikings out of the endzone on the ensuing drive and Taneyhill orchestrated a series of plays that resulted in a tied game. Trayvond Davis started the drive with a seven-yard run and a pass to Jones for 43 yards set up a first and ten from the eighteen. Davis picked up eight yards on a handoff and Smith put the Jackets in the endzone on a keep. Shetley’s PAT was unsuccessful for the 14-14 tie with 2:13 left in the first half.
Spartanburg reclaimed a 21-14 lead just before intermission with a throwback pass to Bowe but the Jackets emerged from the locker room with a renewed sense of urgency and Taneyhill showed no fear in the second half.
On fourth and two there was no question that Union County would not be punting and Smith legged out a couple of yards to give the Jackets a fresh set of downs. A screen pass to Davis for 31 yards set up an 11-yard pass to Chris Booker. Davis picked up sixteen but an incomplete pass, a five-yard run and a holding penalty left Union County in a 4th and three situation. With no hesitation Taneyhill left his offense on the field. Smith hooked up with Jones for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Shetley’s PAT knotted the game back up at 21-21.
Spartanburg ran a couple of short-gain plays before Crosby sacked the Spartanburg quarterback, Banks Wise, for a 16-yard loss to bring up fourth and 17, forcing the Vikings to punt.
Booker reeled in a 12-yard catch to start the Union County drive that Victor Ruth capped off with a 42-yard touchdown reception to give the Jackets their first lead of the game and Shetley’s kick was on the money.
With 9:00 on the clock Spartanburg returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Down 28-27, the Vikings faked the point-after kick and went for the two-point conversion. However, the Jackets were prepared and the pass was batted away.
Smith connected with Ruth for a 25-yard pass and found him again on the following play for a 43-yard touchdown. The successful point-after kick gave the Jackets a 35-27 advantage.
A high snap to Wise was scooped up by Jamarcus Henderson and ran in for another Union County touchdown with four minutes left to play. Shetley’s kick was off and the Jackets settled for a 41-27 lead.
With time running out on the Vikings, Union County put the pressure on. Henderson and Wood came up with big stops before Spartanburg found the endzone with a 19-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good and as the clock wound down, the Jackets celebrated their first win of the 2012 season, 41-33, over 4-A Spartanburg.
The Jackets will play host to the Gaffney Indians next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Union County Stadium.