Vikings Fall to Cougars
A disastrous second-half start proved to be Union Pines undoing in its pigskin opener Friday, as the Vikings fell 34-14 to Southwestern Randolph.
After battling the visiting 3-A Cougars to a 7-7 halftime tie, Union Pines took to the field for the third quarter at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium only to see Southwestern Randolph capture control of the contest.
The Cougars needed just 4:12 of game time to score two touchdowns and grab a 21-7 lead with 7:42 remaining in the third frame.
The first strike came on 65-yard trap junior tailback Darius Martin took to the house. The extra point made it a 14-7 contest with 9:31 to play in the quarter.
Next, Southwestern recovered a pooch onside kick to set up a short-field possession at the Vike 31. Four plays later, Martin scored again on a dive out of the Cougars productive power-I formation to make the margin 21-7 in favor of the visitors.
Union Pines began its first possession of the half on its own 20. Soon two detrimental penalties set up a second-down-and-28 situation from the 2.
Ultimately, the Vikes were forced to punt away — again giving the Cougars great starting position — with the ball spotted at the Union Pines’ 19 after a 15-yard personal foul penalty was tacked on to the end of the return.
Viking head coach Ryan Riggan pointed to lack of focus as a major factor in his team’s loss.
“I feel like we got out there for the second half and just went brain dead for seven minutes,” Riggan said. “In the end that seven minutes was the difference in the game.
“We came out of halftime (tied) at 7-7, then Southwestern made a good drive to regain the lead. But we had made some good drives too, so I had no doubt we could put together one of our own and come right back at them. However, mental mistakes led to penalties in situations not even impacting actual plays.”
“Execution when it matters” has always been Riggan’s mantra since becoming the head coach at Union Pines, so he knows his team must buy into that idea and limit the costly miscues to have success.
“We had too many unnecessary penalties, especially dead-ball calls on offense,” Riggan said. “It proved to be our downfall again (tonight) and we cannot afford to give away yards to a team like this, with a solid defense and strong offense, and expect to win ball games.”
Southwestern Randolph soon found pay dirt for a third time in the frame, on a four-yard scamper by Martin.
It was his fourth rushing score of the night for the Cougars and the extra point made the margin 28-7 with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
Martin finished the game with 183 yards on 18 carries, which thrilled his head coach Martin Samek.
“Overall, this was a good win for our program,” Samek said. “I thought our kids played well and took the game over in the second half, led by Darius (Martin), who had a monster night stepping into a starting role for us in the backfield.”
Southwestern had 11 different backs carry the ball in the tilt, amassing a ground total of 354 yards on 50 rushing attempts.
With the Cougars leading 34-7, a two-yard touchdown by Vike senior fullback Lee Barber capped off a 62-yard scoring drive for Union Pines and brought the game to its final tally.
Southwestern (1-0) grabbed a 7-0 lead on its first drive of the game when Martin took an 18-yard draw to the house for a touchdown at the 3:25 mark in the opening quarter.
The Vikes tied the contest with 6:48 remaining in the second period, when junior quarterback Braxton Ross connected with Zack Yates for a 10-yard scoring toss.
Next week Union Pines (0-1) hits the road to take on cross-county rival North Moore (0-1).
SR 7 0 21 6 — 34
UP 0 7 0 7 — 14
Scoring: (SR) Martin 18–run (Benn Runnsfeldt kick); (UP) Yates 10-pass from Ross (Kyle Rackers kick); (SR) Martin 65-run (Runnsfeldt kick); (SR) Martin 5-run (Runnsfeldt kick); (SR) Martin 4-run (Runnsfeldt kick); (SR) Daub 1-run (failed kick); (UP) Barber 2-run (Rackers kick).
Team stats: Rushing – (SR) 50-355, 5 TD; (UP) 27-82 TD; Passing – (SR) 0-5 0yds; (UP) 3-12, 38yds TD; First Downs – (SR) 20; (UP) 8; Penalties – (SR) 11-85; (UP) 8-70; All-Purpose (Total) – (SR) 396; (UP) 161. Fumbles/Lost – (SR) 4/0; (UP) 1/0.
Individual stats: Rushing – (SR) Martin 18-183, 4TD, Josh Brennan 6-60, Brandon Osborne 4-31; (UP) A.J. Ritter 7-34, Lee Barber 7-22, TD; Passing – (SR) Brett Grimsley 0-5-0 0; (UP) Emmitt Carden 0-2-0, 0, Ross 3-10-0 38, TD; Receiving – (UP) Yates 1-10 TD, Parris Manning 1-20, Zak Rodriguez 1-8.
Contact F.W. Manning II at email@example.com
More like this story