The first round of the NCHSAA playoffs began Friday evening, which included a rematch of the Lakewood-Union game last week which the Leopards won 14-7. There was a very different result this time around. In a win or go home scenario, the Spartans avenged their loss last week with a 42-7 rout of their cross-county rivals.
Union began the game with tons of energy both offensively and defensively, and never let up. On their first offensive possession, the Spartans marched down the field and scored a touchdown, capped off by a 15-yard run by Bakeem Murphey. Quickly, the Spartans struck again on a 42-yard run by Natrone Banks. Union led 13-0 after the first.
After a Leopard turnover, Union scored once more before the halftime break. It was Murphey again, this time from 9 yards out. The successful 2-point conversion gave the Spartans a 21-0 lead entering halftime.
The Spartans would put up 21 more points in the second half, with touchdown runs by Alfredo Garcia, Hagan Thornton, and Dezmond Faison respectively.
Union’s defense played tremendous, only allowing one score on the night. Lakewood’s JJ Tanner scored on a quarterback keeper from 7 yards out late in the game. The Spartan defense forced three turnovers while they turned the ball over only twice in the game.
Union’s Dezmond Faison had a monster game with 16 carries for 160 yards. Banks had 8 carries for 107 yards; Murphey had 12 rushed for 59 yards; Hagan Thornton carried the ball 4 times for 39 yards; and Alfredo Garcia had 5 carries for 37 yards.
Defensively, Anfrenee Cromartie led the way with 11.5 tackles, followed by Justin Smith’s 11, Daniel Glover’s 7.5, and Hagan Thornton’s 6 tackles.
Union coach Doug Burley stated that he thought this was his team’s best performance of the season.
The Spartans travel to James Kenan next Friday night to play the undefeated Tigers.
“We just have to show up, play, and see what happens” said Burley.