Tyreek McCoy of Union Pines

Tyreek McCoy of Union Pines races for a touchdown during a 3A Tri-County Six Conference game between the Vikings and the Western Harnett Eagles on Nov. 7, 2019, in Cameron. The Vikings defeated the Eagles, 60-7, to win eight games in a season for the first time since 1998, and also matching the most wins in a season.

The Union Pines Vikings blasted Western Harnett Thursday while blasting their way into the school’s record book.

Behind an explosive offense and a strong defense, the Vikings defeated the Eagles 60-7 in the Tri-County 6 Conference regular-season finale at Woodrow Wilhoit Stadium to improve to 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the league. The conference mark earned the Vikings a second-place finish in the league standings. They will play in the upcoming state playoffs for the first time since 2016. In the preliminary brackets, subject to change, released by the NCHSAA Saturday the Vikings earned a 10-seed in the 3-AA East Region and were scheduled to face seventh-seed West Brunswick next Friday. The brackets were not finalized until after press time.

“I’m really happy for this community,” said Viking head coach Lonnie Cox. “It’s been a long time coming. These fans have sat up in those stands for years and it’s been since 1998 that Union Pines won eight games. I’m happy for these kids, I’m happy for my coaching staff and I’m happy for the community — they deserve this.”

The school record for wins in a season is eight games, so this year’s team has earned a spot in the record book. Union Pines opened in 1964.

Eight was also special in the win over the Eagles, as the Vikings scored the first eight times they had the ball on offense. They totaled more than 600 yards of offense, with senior quarterback Rory Board providing more than 400 of those yards.

Board went 17-for-20 passing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He also did damage with his legs, running eight times for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also provided a two-point conversion.

Senior wide receiver Jacob Bowbliss had 11 catches for 200 yards, including two touchdowns. Fellow senior wide receiver Archie Chandler had five receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back Tyreek McCoy had 89 yards on 10 carries, providing touchdown runs of 35, 25 and seven yards.

Sophomore Parker Meggs came off the bench to collect 93 yards rushing on six carries, racing 68 yards on one of the carries for a touchdown late in the contest.

Defensively, the Vikings held the Eagles to 227 yards, but did not allow Western Harnett to score. The only Eagle score came on a kick return.

Cox believes that the Vikings have learned how to win this season, and that was a key to the blowout victory.

“I’m so proud that we’ve gone from hoping to win football games to expecting to win football games,” Cox said. “All year long we’ve preached culture, culture and culture. I think our young men are starting to see the results of us practicing that culture every single day.”

Union Pines certainly took the game to Western Harnett, establishing its dominance on the Vikings first possession.

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Vikings promptly went 80 yards in seven plays, a drive capped off by McCoy’s 35-yard jaunt to the end zone. The Vikings tried a two-point conversion but the Eagles stopped the try, leaving the Vikes up 6-0 just a little over two minutes into the game.

The failed two-point conversion was about the only time the Eagles stopped the Vikings.

On the next Union Pines possession, McCoy ended an 80-yard, five-play drive with a 25-yard scamper for a score. Again the two-point conversion failed, leaving the Vikings up 12-0.

Next time the Vikings had the ball, they only needed six plays to cover 52 yards, with Board getting the honors, scoring on a quarterback sneak. Again the two-point try failed.

On the next four first-half Viking possessions the results were the same. First, McCoy added his third touchdown, this time on a seven-yard run and Board added the two-point conversion to put the Vikes up 26-0 with 7:17 remaining in the first half.

Then Board found Chandler on a streak pattern for a 42-yard score and then it was Bowbliss’ turn, as he hauled in a seven-yard pass for a score. Chandler and Board struck again, this time for a 40-yard score with 18 seconds left in the half. With Ray Blatz adding extra-point kicks after Bowbliss and Chandler’s scores, the Vikings led 46-0.

Western Harnett got its only touchdown of the game on the ensuing kickoff, with Tyrese Jones going about 75 yards for the score, bringing in a 46-7 halftime score.

Union Pines took up where it left off in the second half. After forcing a fumble on the Eagles first possession, the Vikings needed only one play to get back on the scoreboard. This time Board found Bowbliss for a 26-yard score and Blatz added the extra point, pushing the Vikings lead to 52-7. That also pushed the game into a running clock, as once a team takes more than a 42-point lead the officials invoke a running clock.

Still, the Vikings were not done. With both teams sending in substitutes, Meggs delighted the hometown crowd with a speedy trip around the end that resulted in his 68-yard score. Blatz converted his fourth extra-point of the night and the Vikings had salted away their 53-point victory.

The night was also special, as seniors were recognized before the game. Cox said the team’s seniors were integral to the winning season.

“They are unbelievable,” said Cox. “They’ve had three different coaches in four years. I’ve been incredibly blessed to get them to buy in the way they have and to execute the way they have.”

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