Yellow Jackets regroup to beat Tornadoes

Yellow Jackets regroup to beat Tornadoes


Union football coach Jordan Wren said things started about as bad as they could imagine against Philadelphia on Thursday night. 

But it’s not always how you start but how you finish.

Philadelphia scored the game’s first 18 points but Union scored the last 41 points to take a 41-18 win over the Tornadoes to claim the Division 4-2A championship.

Union finishes the regular season with a 9-1 record and will host M.S. Palmer on Friday night in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Philadelphia finished third the region. The 3-7 Tornadoes visit Water Valley for their first round game.

It was a rough start for the Yellowjackets but one that ended well.

“I think everything that could have went bad in the first quarter went back for us,” Wren said. “As a coach, you don’t ever plan for those things. But you do plan about how you are going to handle it when bad things happen. I thought out kids have done a really good job of handling those things and we overcame several things on Thursday night. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and that was a direct reflection of our core values. They had every reason to lay down but didn’t.”

Philadelphia got the ball to start the game and used a short field to go 50 yards in six plays. The Tornadoes scored on a 5-yard run by Keatham Graham and failed in the two-point conversion to take an early 6-0 lead. 

Union gave the ball right back on a fumble by U’Darrian Hickman. Philly then went 56 yards in four plays and scored on an 11-yard run by C.J. Rush. The try for two failed again and Philly led 12-0.

Philly kept the momentum when they recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Union 25. Six plays later, Philly scored on a 10-yard pass from Bernard Parker to Dee Burnside. The try for two failed and the Tornadoes led 18-0. 

But Union finally settled down and went 62 yards in nine plays as Ky’Yon Harris scored on a 3-yard run with 11:55 left in the first half. Samuel Alawine’s PAT was good and Philly led 18-7.

After forcing Philadelphia to punt, Union then went 80 yards in 10 plays as Harris scored on a 2-yard run for his second score of the game. Alawine’s PAT failed and Philly led 18-13.

After a three-and-out by the Philly offense, Union went 47 yards in just four plays and scored on a 5-yard run by Xavier Boler. Harris ran in the two-point conversion and Union led 21-18 at the half. 

“Once we were down 18-0, I thought to myself that if we can just get back to 18-14 at the half, I would be happy with that,” Wren said. “Then they went three and out and we scored right before the half to take the lead at 21-18 and I thought that was huge. I thought that score was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Then we got the ball to start the second half and hit a big play right off the bat. I thought we were in control of the game from there on.”

Union got the ball to start the second half and Boler scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard run. Alawine’s PAT failed and Union led 27-18.

After forcing Philly to punt, Union needed just three plays to go 90 yards. Hickman hit Nathan Boone on a big 55-yard gainer and Harris finished off the drive with a 32-yard run. The try for two failed and Union extended the lead to 33-18. 

After another Philly punt, Union put the game away with another quick scored. This time, Boler scored on a 43-yard run and Harris ran in the two-point conversion as Union led 41-18 for the final margin. 

“I didn’t think the defense played bad all night,” Wren said. “They got good field position to start the game and two turnovers. It took a little while for us to get adjusted to their speed. But when we forced them to have to drive the field, we were able to get them off the field. And once they got settled in, they really shut them down.”

Union had 327 yards rushing and 145 passing for 472 yards of total offense. 

Hickman was 6-of-8 passing for 145 yards. Boone had two catches for 82 yards when Keon Hutchins had 37 yards on two catches. Mason Tucker also had two catches for 26 yards. 

Boler led Union on the ground with 196 yards on 19 carries with three TDs while Harris had 91 yards on 11 carries with three TDs and two two-point conversion. Hickman had 40 yards on seven carries. 

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions