Eagles Soar Over Vikings
Heading into the final game of the season, Viking head coach Ryan Riggan had expressed concern about the leadership of Douglas Byrd’s dynamic senior quarterback Junior Williams.
It was clear Riggan’s reason for worry was well-founded. Williams finished with four touchdowns as the visiting Eagles soared past Union Pines, 51-12 on Senior Night.
In the first half, Williams beat the Vikings on the ground and through the air. He ran for two scores, including a 33-yard scamper, and, completed eight of 17 passes for 203 yards.
On his first throw of the night, Williams spotted Malik Underwood behind the Viking secondary and hit him for a 59-yard touchdown.
Williams added two rushing TDs to push the Eagle margin to 21-0 after the first quarter.
In three quarters of action, he finished with 56 yards on nine carries, including three rushing scores and went 9-for-20 passing for 209 yards and a touchdown.
“Junior (Williams) is tough,” Riggan said. “First of all, he is a big, physical player and when you add to that the speed and passing ability he has, it makes for a great package at quarterback.”
Senior Devyn Adams busted up the middle breaking several tackles for a 15-yard touchdown on the Vikings third possession of the game to cut the lead to 21-6.
Senior defensive back Kyle Leenheer then intercepted a Williams’ pass at the Vike 3-yard line to turn the ball back over to Union Pines’ offense.
Keyed by a 19-yard run by quarterback Taylor O’Neil, the Vikes drove the ball to the Eagle 30 before the drive stalled when O’Neil was sacked on a 4th and 11 play.
O’Neil was shaken up on the play and did not return until the fourth quarter.
Union Pines’ quarterbacks were sacked six times by Byrd in the game.
Sair Zaragoza booted a 31-yard field late in the half to increase the lead to 24-6.
Byrd amassed 273 yards on 28 plays in the first half, while Union Pines totaled 65 yards on 31 plays.
The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half, building a 51-6 lead with 9:36 remaining in the game.
Vike junior A. J. Ritter scored on a 25-yard touchdown run following an Eagle fumble to cut the margin to 51-12 with 3:43 left in the game.
“After the game I told the guys I was really proud of the way they came out and responded,” Riggan said. “They had plenty of opportunities to pack it in and not fight. Instead they showed heart and passion by competing.”
Union Pines ended the season 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the Cape Fear Valley Conference.
Riggan said he was especially pleased by the way the seniors closed out their careers.
“The seniors who stuck this thing out through the end are all a true testament to our program here at Union Pines,” he said. “They are our best players for a reason. Those guys have given me their all this entire season at practice, in the weight room and on the field.
“I can’t say enough positive things about them as a group and hate to see them go — it really is an emotional night.”
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