Mistakes Doom Union Pines in 16-6 Loss
In a hard fought, closely contested battle, Cardinal Gibbons made fewer mistakes and capitalized on opportunities to earn a 16-6 win over Union Pines High School in a non-district battle Friday in Raleigh.
The Vikings committed 12 penalties and turned the ball over three times. The Vikings (3-2) also turned the ball over on downs at the Crusaders 2 on the opening drive of the first half. In contrast Cardinal Gibbons (4-1) had no turnovers and only four penalties for 20 yards.
"This game came down to execution," said Viking head coach Ryan Riggan. "Those guys (Crusaders) did not make any mental mistakes and limited their penalties."
After the opening kickoff, the Viking offense drove the ball 68-yards down field on nine plays to the Crusader 8, setting up a first down and goal. However Union Pines would ultimately turn the ball over on downs at the 2.
"We moved it well offensively to start the game," said Riggan, "We had some things going with Mithcell McNeill on the outside and Graham Haulsee in the middle. It did seem like we had some wind knocked out of our sails when could not punch it in down on the goal line."
The goal-line stand was the third in as many weeks for the Crusaders.
"Our kids don't like things the easy way," Cardinal Gibbons coach Michael Sheehan said. "I feel like we really play better when our heels are against the goal line. The way McNeill runs out of the back field and O'Neil slings the ball on the run, I was really shocked we kept them out, but our kids are a tough bunch."
Union Pines' offense would not again enter the red zone until late in the fourth quarter with the score 16-0 in favor for Cardinal Gibbons.
"Anytime you get win it's a great game," said Sheehan. "This was our first game against 3-A competition. I think Ryan Riggan is doing a great job down there at Union Pines. We watched lots of film and the Vikings proved they are really tough players.
"This was an exciting one for us to get to four wins, and survive this game. Union Pines is one of the more physical teams we have ever seen, they knocked us around pretty good, so to be able to hold on like we did was thrilling."
Late in the opening half the Crusaders broke a scoreless tie on a 29-yard touchdown pass, from senior quarterback Doug Burton to tight end Andrew Shafer. Burton's kick made the score 7-0 in favor of Cardinal Gibbons with 1:19 left until intermission; a lead the Crusaders would take to their locker room at halftime.
"We had several let downs offensively tonight," said Riggan."I felt like every time we got a little momentum we did something crazy like jumping off sides or getting whistled for a hold. That ended bring us back, so instead of having first down or second and short we would end up facing a first-and-15 or having a first down play negated."
Cardinal Gibbons dominated time of possession in the second half. The Viking offense possessed the football for one drive that lasted less than three minutes in the third quarter.
In the fourth the Crusaders scored 10 straight points to take a 16-0 lead. The touchdown resulted from a Viking interception that gave the Crusaders offense the ball at the Viking 7.
Union Pines broke the shutout on a 3-yard run by Graham Haulsee with 3:55 to play.
The Vikes used two large plays from McNeill -- a 29-yard kick-off return and a 40-yard pass to Dakota Gallant -- to set up the score.
Needing two-points to make it a one possession game, Union Pines attempted a pass on the extra point. However the toss fell incomplete. The Vikes then tried on on-sides kick to regain the football, but the ball sailed out of bounds as Cardinal Gibbons took over possession at its own 35-yard line.
Union Pines starts its Cape Fear Valley conference campaign next week, with a home game against the 0-5 Overhills Jaguars.
While Riggan would have liked to walk away from Raleigh with a win, he still saw enough to remain optimistic about the Vikings prospects.
"Our defense played tremendous all night," he said, "especially against a team that outsized us up front. I think we demonstrated we can hold our own against anybody, but there are just a few little things we still have to do to get over the hump.
"I also like the way we started game, considering it was on the road against a 3-A team. If we shore up some mistakes and commit a few less penalties I believe it is a different ball game, but that is something we have to work on week in and week out."
More like this story