Jackets win thriller, beat Chester, 33-32

 

By: Brian Whitmore
Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

Alex Tucker kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:38 remaining and then picked off a Chester pass to give the Union County Yellow Jackets a 33-32 win on Friday in the opening game of the 2008 season.

Tucker also kicked a 42-yard field goal with 59 seconds left in the first half.

"Thursday we were practicing and (Alex) was kicking and I took one upside the head," said UCHS head coach David Lipsey. "So me and Alex ain't been on speaking terms the last day or so, but I guess I've got to hug his neck tonight."

"That first one was a beautiful kick. That second one made it in, it didn't have to be pretty - it was pretty when they said it was good. He came through for us."

Union County led 23-18 at the half. Chester's Julius Pendergrass ran 51 yards to set up his 19-yard touchdown and Fred Lee caught a two-point conversion pass to give Chester a 26-23 lead.

The Jackets answered with Lamont Edney's 4-yard touchdown run and Tucker's PAT to put UCHS back ahead.

Josh Stringfellow hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tony McNeal to put Chester back in front, 32-30, with 9:40 left in the game.

The Jackets were forced to punt on their next possession. Chester was held and a high snap sailed over the Cyclone punter's head.

Union County took over on the Chester 22-yard line with 2:40 left. A few plays later Tucker became the hero. The kick wasn't pretty, but it was good.

He backed the kick up with his interception, which sealed the deal.

"That was a heck of an effort by our guys," said Lipsey. "From the time that we hit the field, I thought we were ready to play. I thought we were prepared. They really got after it. We really played hard."

Chester got on the board first going 39 yards in nine plays. McNeal dove in from one yard out and the kick failed.

Lee caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from McNeal and the kick was blocked. The Cyclones led 12-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.

Union County then came alive. Deon Thompson caught a screen pass from Keiston Stevens and ran 45 yards and Edney scored from 16 yards out. Tucker's kick was good.

Chester fumbled the kickoff and Edney made them pay with an 8-yard touchdown run. Tucker PAT again was again true.

The Cyclones were held on downs and Thompson caught a 10-yard pass from Stevens. Tucker missed the kick, his only miss of the night, and UCHS led 20-12.

Chester answered with a methodical drive that resulted in a 4-yard Pendergrass touchdown. The conversion failed.

Tucker put the Jackets ahead at the half.

"Things went our way," said Lipsey. "We got on a little roll, we took advantage and got points. I credit the coaches. They did an outstanding job and the players made plays. We had guys with good catches, good runs - you've got to credit them. They wanted it and they came and got it. I'm extremely proud of them."

Union County avenged a 16-0 loss to Chester in last year's upperstate championship game.

"Just little reminders during the week - don't forget last year," said Lipsey. "The guys on that football team wanted to make up for it - they came and got the victory. This is a good Friday night to be from Union County and I hope a lot of people here are proud of the team."

UCHS (1-0) travels to 4A Spartanburg next week. Dorman whipped the Vikings 47-10 on Friday.

"It's a tough task," said Lipsey. "Our team must play hard, claw and scratch every minute to the last second comes off and that's what they did tonight. That's the way this football team has got to play."

Unofficial Stats
Total
UCHS 369 yards
CHS 335 yards
First downs
CHS 19
UCHS 12
Penalties
UCHS 110 yards
CHS 88 yards
Turnovers
CHS 2, UCHS 1
Rushing
UCHS - Lamont Edney 15-102; CHS - Julius Pendergrass 14-106

 

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