On Friday, the Spartans took the long three-hour drive to Williamston for the first round of the playoffs. They took on the Knights of Riverside High School, in which the Spartans’ year ended in defeat. However, they competed in a tough match with a final score of 42-34.
Union started the first quarter with a kickoff to the Knights. Riverside tried to get down the field and went for a play on the fourth down but their play was ended in a turnover.
Union took possession of the ball and gave it to Nadir Goodwin. Goodwin rushed the ball but fumbled it only to be picked back up by Spartan Shaquor Newkirk. Jawawn Newkirk then took Union into the endzone for the first touchdown of the night on the next play at the 7:39 mark. Omar Martinez was then able to score a PAT.
The Spartans kicked the ball off back to the Knights who were unable to get down the field for a first down and were forced to punt. Union continued their powerful offense as Chris Nash rushed the ball for 30 yards. Nadir Goodwin followed up with another Spartan touchdown and Martinez with another PAT increasing the lead to 14-0 by the end of the first.
Riverside took possession of the ball at the start of the second. The Knights took the ball down the field to rush for a touchdown. Union took back possession of the ball but were held back by Knight defense and were forced to punt. Riverside took a similar path soon after as their play ended in a punt also.
The Spartans fumbled the ball that had just gone back to their possession, which was picked up by a Knight and returned for a touchdown. Riverside tied the game with a two-point conversion, 14-14.
Spartan, Jawawn Newkirk started the Union play again with a rush for 20 yards. Chris Nash pushed the ball down the field 15 more yards. However, the Spartans were unable to get the ball into the endzone and had to turnover possession. Riverside quickly pushed back down the field for another touchdown and successful made their first PAT. The Union possession after was short-lived and Riverside kept possession of the ball until the end of the second quarter. The Spartans went into the half behind, 21-14.
The Knights came out and found paydirt immediately with another touchdown and PAT at the beginning of the third. Union was forced to punt when they regained possession. Spartan, Jawawn Newkirk came back and intercepted a Knight pass, which he returned for a touchdown and Martinez with a successful PAT.
Chris Nash followed up the strong Spartan play as he found the endzone with 5.8 seconds left in the third quarter. Omar Martinez scored another point attempt to tie the score 28-28. Union kicked off to the Knight. The Knights fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Union.
Spartan, Nadir Goodwin started the fourth quarter with a rush for a touchdown giving Union the lead, 28-34. Riverside came back quickly tying the game 34-34 with a touchdown. A successful PAT put the Knights at a one point advantage over the Spartans.
Union took back possession but was stopped by a revived Knight defense and were forced to punt. Riverside took this opportunity and scored one more touchdown followed by a PAT to give the Knights a good lead at the 2:38 mark, 42-34. The Spartans made one last attempt to tie the game as Chris Nash rushed the ball for 60 yards but Union was stopped just a few yards short of the endzone on the next play. The Knights 42-34 win over the Spartans knocking them out of the playoffs.
Stats were unavailable at press time.
Union head coach Douglas Burley still realizes the Spartan has improved from years past. “It was a great season. I’m proud of the guys even though we didn’t go all the way and I hate that for the seniors but we still have some great guys to get ready for next year,” he said.