A big part of the Union Pines game plan going into its matchup against Lee County Friday night was to limit the mental mistakes that result in penalties.
Another part was to see the offense convert its drives with scores, instead of punts and turnovers on downs.
“It’s the same old song and dance for us.” Union Pines coach Jason Trousdale said after the 42-0 loss on the road.
“We’re moving the ball, and we can’t get timely penalties and timely missed blocks. We will just keep practicing hard.”
With 50 penalty yards assessed, and two other holding calls that offset targeting calls on Lee County’s defense during sustained drives, the yellow flags nearly got in the Vikings’ way as much as the Yellow Jackets did on defense in the Sandhills Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The loss dropped Union Pines to 0-4 to start the season, a first since the winless 2005 campaign for the Vikings.
“We can’t be against the chains. Everytime we are second-and-12 or 15, it’s a recipe for disaster for us,” Trousdale said. “We've got to get better at it and clean it up.”
A hopeful start for Union Pines was foiled by yellow flags being tossed by the officials on the Vikings’ first drive that went 58 yards over nearly eight minutes to start the game. A heavy dose of power run plays from the Vikings through handoffs to Russ Schaper and Damon Bremer got the visitors into the Lee County (4-1, 1-0 Sandhills) red zone, but a false start on fourth-and-4 led to a longer fourth-down try that went through the air and incomplete to give the ball to the Yellow Jackets.
“We were watching the film of them and Fuquay(-Varina) and they were able to run right at them. It’s tough to get to the perimeter on them because those guys can really run,” Trousdale said.
“We ran some Power-I and they didn’t adjust. We were able to move the football down the field.”
Four plays later, Lee County scored its first of six touchdowns on the night with a B.J. Brown 44-yard score.
Brown scored both of his touchdowns in the first half and finished with a game-high 195 yards on 11 touches.
Lee County held a 14-0 lead for much of the second quarter, but worked quickly with less than two minutes to go in the half.
Senior T.J. Johnson pushed forward for a 3-yard score with 1:19 left in the first half to make it 21-0. After forcing Union Pines to punt following a three-and-out on offense, Lee County quarterback Will Patterson connected with Tyric McKendall for a 33-yard touchdown pass.
Rushing touchdowns from Kendal Morris and Dayreon Jennings on the first two possessions of the second half pushed the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 42 points and had running clock for the final 16-plus minutes of the contest.
Patterson passed for 241 yards on eight completions.
Schaper accounted for 53 of the 80 rushing yards for the Vikings.
Union Pines hosts Graham next week, while Lee County hosts Hoke County.
Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.