Cavaliers Outduel Vikings
The Union Pines Vikings faced the Southern Lee Cavaliers Friday for a concentrated knock-down-drag-out offensive pigskin contest that lacked any consistency on the defensive side of the ball from either squad.
Cavalier sophomore running back Jerry Pullum scored his third touchdown of the game with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to give Southern Lee a 63-49 lead in the 3-A Cape Fear Valley Conference clash.
Still, Union Pines simply refused to go down without a fight. Junior Kaleb Johnson reeled in a catch on a fade route for a 41-yard score after a perfectly placed toss down the left sideline by junior quarterback Emmitt Carden with 44 seconds remaining in the game. The extra point attempt was blocked by Cavalier senior Connor Gaines, keeping it a 63-55 game.
Having already recovered two onside kicks on the night, Union Pines needed a third to keep its comeback hopes alive. However senior Brandon Welborn managed to secure the boot and the Senior Night victory for Southern Lee (2-7), which earned its first win in five conference games.
Despite holding leads of 28-21, and 42-35 Union Pines was ultimately unable to leave Sanford with the win.
“Our guys fought hard all night and were a play or two away from winning this football game,” said Union Pines head coach Ryan Riggan. “Despite going down by 14 (points) early we had a positive mindset and the guys just kept battling.
“Offensively I felt we may have played as well as we could have. We scored the ball several different ways and put the ball in a lot of different people’s hands. After the game I told our team that there were a lot of plays made offensively in this one and Southern Lee just made a few more of them than we did.”
The loss dropped Union Pines to 2-7 on the year and 0-5 in conference play. The Vikings have lost 18 straight Cape Fear Valley Conference games.
Before Union Pines had a chance to blink Friday, the team found itself in a 14-0 hole. The Cavaliers got on the board via a five-yard rushing scamper by junior Cullen Boyette with 9:23 remaining in the opening frame. From there the Vikes fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, giving the ball back to Southern Lee with a short field at the visitor 25.
On the third play from scrimmage following the turnover, Pullum scored from seven yards out. Placekicker Freddie McCollum’s effort was good on the second of his seven successful extra point attempts to give the Cavs a 14-0 lead with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
Union Pines then countered, posting 14-straight points to tie the game with 7:43 left to go in the opening frame. Vike junior Phillip Hall, who fumbled away the Vikings’ first kick return, made amends for his earlier miscue by returning a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown. The first of senior Adam Howard’s seven consecutive successful extra point kicks made it a 14-7 game with 8:02 left in the first.
A mere 19 seconds later Union Pines struck again. After a successful onside kick was recovered by junior Ammon Gerber, the Viking offense needed just two plays to bring the score to 14-14. Senior wideout Ethan Benitez got the ball on a play action end-around took the ball 29 yards down the sideline for a score.
Through the 10:51 mark in the second quarter each squad had added 14 points to its side of the scoreboard, as the league clash was deadlocked at 28-all.
Both Vike touchdowns came on the ground. Senior tailback Mike Quick found the end zone on a 41-yard rushing score that tied the game at 21-all. Then senior fullback Shakeem McRae got across the goal line to give Union Pines its first lead at 28-21 with 2:27 remaining until intermission.
McRae carried the ball nine times in the first half for 73 yards. Sixty of those yards came on the drive which gave the Vikings a 28-21 advantage, including a 5-yard scoring run off right tackle.
Late in the second quarter a 46-yard rushing score by Cav junior signal caller Aaron Blockman capped a six-play 59-yard Southern Lee drive. The extra point put Southern Lee in front, albeit briefly, 35-28. Blockman finished the night with four rushing scores, one touchdown toss and 336 total yards of offense, including 279 on the ground on 15 carries.
With 18 seconds remaining in the half Carden connected with Johnson on a short pass that resulted in a 20-yard scoring connection and brought the battle to its 35-35 halftime tally. An interception in the end zone with time expired by Viking sophomore Robert Collins prevented a sixth Cavalier touchdown of the half, providing a fitting capper for a crazy 24 minutes of high school football.
A 14-yard touchdown by Carden gave Union Pines its second lead of the night at 42-35 with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter. The rushing score capped a six-play 69-yard drive that started after the Viking defense recored its second interception of the game.
After ending its second straight drive with an interception, Southern Lee’s offense pushed the pedal to the metal for the duration of the game as it scored touchdowns on each its next four possessions. Conversely the Vikings finally stalled out a bit on offense, punting the ball away and turning it over on downs on their next two drives.
Union Pines 28 7 7 13 — 55
Spring 21 14 7 21 — 63
Scoring – (S) Boyette 5-run (McCollum kick); (S) Pullum 7-run (McCollum kick); (U) Hall 79-kickoff return (Howard kick); (U) Benitez 29-run (Howard kick); (S) Pullum 47-run (McCollum kick); (U) Quick 41-run (Howard kick); (U) McRae 5-run (Howard); (S) R. Holmes 10-pass from Blockman (McCollum kick); (S) Blockman 46-run (McCollum kick); (U) Johnson 20-pass from Carden (Howard kick); (U) Carden 14-run (Howard kick); (S) Blockman 47-run (McCollum kick); (U) Blockman 67-run (McCollum kick); (U) Blockman 9-run (kick failed); (U) McRae 2-run (Howard kick); (S) Pullum 21-run (Pullum run); (U) Johnson 41-catch from Carden (kick blocked).
Team stats: Rushing – (U) 48-376, 5 TD; (S) 37-449, 8 TD; Passing – (U) 3-6, 77yds TD; (S) 6-12, 57yds TD 2 INT; First Downs – (U) 19; (S) 22; Penalties – (U) 7-55; (S) 6-45; All-Purpose (Total) – (U) 592; (S) 571; Fumbles/Lost – (U) 4/2; (S) 2/1.
Individual stats: Rushing – (U) Benitez 4-96, McRae 12-87, Carden 11-79, Benitez M. Quick 8-61, S. Shadomy 3-47 (S) Blockman 15-279, Pullum 10-137, Boyette 7-24; Passing – (U) Carden 3-5 77 2-0, Benitez 0-0 0 0-0; (S) Blockman 6-12 57 1-2; Receiving – (U) Johnson 2-61, D. Williams 1-16; (S) Pullum 3-32, Boyette 1-12, Holmes 1-10, J. Zavala 1-3.
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