In a back and forth contest that came down to the last possession and rained penalty flags, Union County (2-2) emerged with a 42-40 win over the home standing Fairfield Central Griffins (2-2) on Friday night.
Union County won the coin toss and elected to receive but the first play of the game was a pass that was picked off and returned to the 11-yard line.
The teams traded penalties before Fairfield Central running back Damien Bell took a hand-off from quarterback DeAndre Belton and found the end zone. The point after kick was good and the Griffins took a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Union County quarterback Keiston Smith legged out 12 yards on a fourth-and-one play. Wide receiver T.J. Foster pulled down a 32-yard pass that put the Jackets on the 10-yard line where the Fairfield Central line held firm for three plays before Smith dove in for the score. Brandon Shetley’s point after kick was good, tying the game at 7-7.
Fairfield Central used three plays to tack on seven more and Union County answered with a touchdown courtesy of Kalay Jones on a crossing pattern. The Jackets faked the point after kick and went for two but came up short for a 14-13 score.
On the first snap of the following possession, Belton scampered 69 yards for a Fairfield Central touchdown but the point after kick was off the mark. With 11 minutes left in the first half, the Griffins led 20-13.
Union County found itself in a fourth-and-eight situation on the Fairfield Central 44-yard line and the yellow jackets were going for it when a delay of game penalty backed them up five yards. Coach Steve Taneyhill left the offense on the field and Kalay Jones reeled in a first down catch that was called back due to a holding penalty.
Fourth and 24 forced a punt, but a Griffins fumble was recovered by Union County defensive end Calvin Jeter and the Jackets took control once again.
Victor Ruth pulled down a 24-yard pass that set up a 20-yard Davis touchdown run. The Jackets opted for a two-point conversion and Smith’s pass to Adrian Brown in the end zone gave Union County a 21-20 halftime lead.
Fairfield Central began a methodical march down field after the break that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown carry. The PAT was unsuccessful but the Griffins had reclaimed the lead at 26-21.
A 27-yard haul by Davis and a 42-yard catch and run courtesy of Ruth led to a Smith 18-yard quarterback keeper for six points. Shetley’s PAT was good for a 28-21 Union County lead.
Fairfield Central answered with a 58-yard Larry Bell run that was capped off with a 17-yard touchdown and successful two-point conversion.
The Jackets returned the favor when Davis reached the end zone from 30 yards out in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Griffins tacked on six points with a 31-yard quarterback keeper by Belton, but Union County would hit pay dirt one more time with a 39-yard pass to Ruth.
The Union County defense made a late stand to fight off a persistent Griffins offense that had otherwise been unstoppable for the the 42-40 final.