An explosive rushing attack and opportune passing game from Union County overwhelmed Emerald in a 42-27 loss Friday night.
Union County, the defending region champion, saw speedy running backs Brian Renwick and Ke’Avis Savage rush for a combined 165 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback JaBryson Hunter added more than 200 passing yards and two touchdowns.
“The difference tonight was Union County showing just how fast and athletic they are,” Emerald coach Tad DuBose said. “At the same time, I also think the Emerald Vikings have a pretty good football team too. Our kids fought hard again against another good football team. We’ve just got to continue to work and get better and faster and stronger.”
Emerald got off to a quick start with a 10-yard touchdown run from Jaylen Foster on the team’s first possession. The Vikings retook the lead early in the second quarter, but the Yellow Jackets responded with two touchdowns to make it 28-14 at the break.
Union County’s offense answered each Emerald score. The Vikings made it a one-possession game twice in the second half, but couldn’t slow the Yellow Jackets’ balanced attack.
Costly holding penalties and a fumble on Emerald’s final two drives ended its comeback attempt. Union County’s final score of the night made put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
“Those two series with the holding penalties and turnover were rough on us,” DuBose said. “We’ve got to clean up some things and execute a little bit better. That comes in time and maturity and understanding in crucial situations that you’ve got to perform at your best. Hopefully we’ll gain experience from that for the future.”
Union County 12 16 7 7 — 42
Emerald 7 7 13 0 — 27
E — Jaylen Foster 10 run (Billy Pruitt kick)
UC — Ke’Avis Savage 30 pass from JaBryson Hunter (kick fails)
UC — Savage 24 run (conversion fails)
E — Damaruis Morton 5 run (Pruitt kick)
UC — Desmond Herbert 11 pass from Hunter (K.J. McCluney from Hunter)
UC — Brian Renwick 14 run (Hunter run)
E — Foster 38 run (Pruitt kick)
UC — Renwick 13 run (kick)
E — Zacoyeis Elmore 14 run (kick blocked)
UC — Renwick 10 run (kick)
Rushing — UC: Brian Renwick 7-93, Ke’Avis Savage 19-72, JaBryson Hunter 6-18; E: Jaylen Foster 17-130, Zacoyeis Elmore 10-95, Damaruis Morton 11-52, Nathaniel Parks 4-(-10).
Passing — UC: Hunter 16-25-1-208; E: Parks 0-2-0-0.
Receiving — UC: Renwick 2-55, K.J. McCluney 3-53, Savage 3-33, Branson Cook 3-27, Prescott Lindsay 3-24, Desmond Herbert 1-11, Ethan Balkum 1-5; E: None.
Records: Union County 2-2 overall, 1-2 Region 3-3A; Emerald 1-4 overall, 0-4 Region 3-3A
Next game: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Emerald at Broome