Union Pines opened its Tri-County 6 Conference football slate with a hard-fought 27-24 win Friday at Harnett Central.

Viking senior running back Tyreek McCoy rushed for 239 yards on 32 carries and had three scores for Union Pines. His touchdown runs covered 66, 66 and 2 yards.

But it was a defensive play by Mick Techeria that provided the winning score.

Trailing 24-20 in the second half, Techeria picked up a Harnett Central fumble and returned it 32 yards for a score. With Sean Blatz adding the point after, the Vikes took the 27-24 lead.

Then the defense shut down the Trojans the rest of the way.

“Our defense really came through in the second half,” said Viking head coach Lonnie Cox. “They forced a lot of turnovers and played really well.”

The first half saw the Vikings take an early 14-0 lead on two McCoy scores. But the Trojans roared back to take a 17-14 lead at halftime.

On the first Viking play from scrimmage in the second half, McCoy tacked on another score to push Union Pines back in front 20-17.

McCoy, who battled injuries to begin the season, has been healthy the last two games, including a win over Cummings Oct. 4 when he had 160 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns.

“Every time he touches the ball, he seems to get faster and better,” said Cox.

Harnett Central answered right back on the ensuing possession to score and take a 24-20 lead.

Techeria’s heroics allowed the Vikings to get the win, improving to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in the conference.

In other Tri-County 6 Conference openers Friday, Lee County won 41-7 at Triton and Southern Lee defeated Western Harnett 42-6 in Tramway.

Next week, the Vikes take to the road once again when it travels to Sanford to take on undefeated Lee County.

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