After 11 gruesome games on the gridiron, the Union Spartans found their way to a playoff win Friday, defeating the Trask Titans, a team they fell to in the regular season, 41-14.
The first quarter pretty much mirrored their first matchup, with the Spartans jumping out to a 2 touchdown lead only to have the Titans roar back to get within one TD. The Spartans, however, laid the hammer down the rest of the way.
Chris Nash and Donovan Hayes each scored 3 touchdowns on the night and the defense was simply amazing.
The Titans took the opening kickoff and drove 54 yards in 16 plays to set up a 26-yard field goal which was wide right.
It was then the Spartan offense’s turn to show what they could do. They scored on the fourth play from scrimmage on a 38-yard touchdown run by Nash who bolted up the middle and simply outran the defenders. The point after kick was also good, putting the Spartans up 7-0 with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter.
The Union defense would stop the Titans on their next series on 3 and out which forced them to punt.
The Spartans started play on the Trask 44-yard line. The third play from scrimmage Nash headed home again, only to have the touchdown brought back due to a holding penalty. Malik Williams and Tamah Chestnut got back-to-back calls. Williams gained 18 yards and Chestnut hit pay dirt with a hard run for 45 yards to get the Spartans in great field position. Four plays later Nash scampered into the end zone for his second touchdown on a 1-yard run, putting the Spartans in a comfortable position, 13-0 with :18 remaining in the first quarter.
The Titans surprised the Spartans when B.J. Jordan received the kickoff and strolled 75 yards untouched. The kick was good closing the deficit to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Union would once again go to work, this time using an aerial attack. Ty Travers would catch 2 passes and Warren Gay caught 2 as well, but the second was an 11-yard reception for the touchdown. The kick was good and the Spartans took a 20-7 halftime lead.
The question remained: would Union hold it together or fold like they did six weeks ago? The Spartans refused to quit and refused to lose as they came out on fire in the second half.
They received the opening kickoff putting together a 58-yard drive in 8 plays capped off by an 11-yard run by Nash. Hayes would score on the conversion run, giving the Spartans a 28-7 lead.
The Titans would show they had a little fight in them on their next series as they put together a 55-yard run capped off by a 10-yard run by Anthony Tucker. The PAT was good keeping Trask in the game.
Union would kick off and the Titans coughed up the pigskin which was recovered by Chestnut putting the Spartans back in business. It took just two plays from scrimmage when Hayes took the pigskin to the house for a 30-yard run. The kick was good and the Spartans were pretty much in the driver’s seat, 35-14, late in the third quarter.
The Union defense would stiffen on Trask’s next series and they stopped them on fourth down which allowed the Spartans to take over possession of the ball.
On the first play from scrimmage Nash would pick up 41 yards and Nadir Goodwin would get 14 yards to get to the 17-yard line. The next play from scrimmage Hayes scored from the 17. The kick failed but the Spartan lead held.
Union Coach Doug Burley was well pleased with the performance his team gave. “We played a complete game on both sides of the ball. We simply gave the game to Trask the last time and we were out for revenge,” the coach said.
“It feels good to be practicing football on Thanksgiving this year,” added Burley.
The win gives the Spartans an 8-4 overall record. They move on to the second round next Friday when they travel to Wallace to take on the Bulldogs, winners over Pender. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The season comes to an end for Trask who concluded their season with a 7-5 record, their best in five years.