UNION — Union County saw a worst case scenrio unfold on Friday night. Chester defeated the Jackets 42-26 in the regular season finale. Meanwhile, Clinton upset region foe Woodruff who was in the No. 1 spot, opening the door for Chester to take the region crown.
Three teams from the conference advance to post-season and as of Friday night, the third team from region III-AAA was undecided.
The loss to Chester could’ve eliminated Union County from playoff contention.
“I thought we had it under control,” said Union County Coach Steve Taneyhill.
The Jackets led 20-13 at intermission and then took a 26-19 lead in the third when quarterback Keiston Smith ran in a 4-yard touchdown.
Chester responded with a 76-yard kick off return for a touchdown and the successful point-after kick knotted the game at 26-26.
“That kickoff return cost us the night,” said Tanyhill. “It’s a tough way to lose, tough way to end. I thought our kids battled but we just couldn’t hang on. Clinton winning was the worst case scenario for us. I just think we didn’t play good enough to win. I said in the second half, ‘There’s 24 minutes to go. The best team’s gonna win.’ We just didn’t make enough plays to get it done.”
Chester struck first with a handoff to Darrell Rambert for 18 yards to the goal line where the senior running back slipped into the end zone from one yard out. Jared Rambert’s point-after kick was good for a 7-0 Chester lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
A turnover on downs put the ball back in Chester quarterback Tommy Sanders’ hands. Sanders pitched to Lorenzo White for 21 yards and Rambert took it the rest of the way with a 52-yard touchdown run. The PAT was off for a 13-0 Chester advantage.
Union County answered with a touchdown courtesy of Trayvon Davis on the ensuing drive and Brandon Shetley’s point-after kick cut the lead to 13-7.
The Jackets defense held Chester to three and out to bring Smith and company back onto the field.
Smith connected with Kalay Jones for a 25-yard touchdown and Shetley’s PAT gave the Jackets their first lead of the night.
Union County padded it’s lead before the half with a 18-yard pass to T.J. Foster setting up a 27-yard touchdown hook-up between Smith and Jones for a 20-13 halftime score.
Chester used a 64-yard drive to score in the third quarter but the PAT was off and the Jackets retained a one-point lead.
Union County’s score off a quarterback keep was followed by an unsuccessful 2-point conversion and Chester returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to tie the game at 26-26.
The Cyclones took over using two additional touchdowns, a safety and with some assistance from costly Union County penalties Chester cruised to a 42-26 win.
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Sports Editor Tiffany Grady-Hudgins can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell at (864) 251-4330.