The Union Spartans lost a very close game to the visiting North Duplin Rebels 27-26 as the Spartans celebrated homecoming on Friday night. The teams took turns with the leads as the game went down to the final minute.
“Man, what a game,” said coach Doug Burley after the game. “I thought our guys played a very good game against the number five team in the state. I am very proud of each one of them and all of our coaches.”
The game started with the Rebels receiving the ball and immediately driving down the field for a touchdown to make the score 7-0 in the first three minutes of the game. Union took the kickoff and used a strong running game to drive down the field. Trey Underwood put the Spartans on the board with a touchdown run, but Union missed the extra point attempt to make the score 7-6. On the kickoff, Union recovered the onside kick but the Rebels held the Spartans on downs and got the ball back. The first quarter ended with the score 7-6.
In the second quarter, the ball went back and forth several times but finally, just before halftime Vance King had a big running play to make the score 12-7 in favor of the Spartans.
Union came out of the locker room fired up on offense. The Spartans took the kickoff and drove right down the field aided on a big run by Emari Carter, who took it to inside the 5-yard line. Isaac Underwood took the ball over the goal line and made the score 18-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Spartans recovered another onside kick, but the North Duplin defense stepped up and held the Spartans. This time the Rebels made a long drive down the field, but the Union defense dug in and held North Duplin on a big fourth-and-five play to get the ball back. The Spartans had a 18-6 lead still and 3:16 left to play in the third quarter.
After several penalties, the Spartans were deep in their own territory and fumbled the ball. The Rebels recovered and their offense quickly scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to narrow the margin, 18-14.
The Spartan offense drove, but went nowhere this time and the ball went back to North Duplin. The Rebels drove inside the Spartan 10-yard line but the Union defense stepped up and held them scoreless on the possession. The Spartans got the ball back but ended up punting it back to North Duplin. The Rebels scored on a pass play to take the lead 20-18 with 6:12 left in the game.
The Spartan offense then made a successful drive down the field with King scoring a touchdown on a big running play. Isaac Underwood ran the ball in for the two-point conversion to make the score 26-20 with only 1:36 left in the game.
The Rebels answered in a big way, taking the ball down the field to score a touchdown to tie the game 26-26. The North Duplin kicker then successfully kicked the extra point to give the Rebels the lead in what would prove to be the final score, 27-26.
Union drops to 2-6 overall, 0-2 in conference. The Spartans will play Friday night at Rosewood.
Reach Sebrinia Johnson at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.