After severe thunderstorms canceled Friday night’s game, Union and Lakewood finally got their chance to begin their 2016 football season. The game was as close as everyone expected, but the outcome was certainly not as the Spartans shocked visiting Leopards, 22-14.
With the score knotted at 14-14 and 14 seconds remaining Donovan Hayes got outside, breaking tackle after tackle, and scampered 25 yards to the touchdown with just 5 seconds on the clock to seal the win for the Union.
After one possession to start the game each both teams exchanged punts. The Spartans’ second possession they faced a fourth down and one from the Lakewood 40. Coach Douglas Burley decided to roll the dice on fourth down and six from the Lakewood 48, but the Lakewood defense stopped the in their tracks to allow the Leopards to take charge of the pigskin.
The momentum quickly changed as Lakewood marched seven plays and 40 yards capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Zach Tanner. The kick was good and the Leopards went on top 7-0 with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans then went on a run with 8:21 left in the second quarter after five running plays, quarterback Nadir Goodwin found a wide open Warren Gay who caught the ball and strolled 40 yards for the Union touchdown. The 2-point conversion run by Goodwin was successful and the Spartans were up 8-7.
The Leopards would answer late in the second quarter by putting together a 55-yard drive on eight plays. Carsell Bennett broke several tackles and drilled his way into the end zone to put the Leopards back on top 14-8 at the half.
The second half was a little sloppy on behalf of both teams. Union would turn the ball over on fumbles two consecutive times, including losing one fumble in the end zone. Lakewood on the other hand would have dropped passes.
The Spartans would get back in the groove midway the third quarter when Hayes scored his second touchdown of the evening this time on a 42 yard scamper for the Union score. The conversion run failed and the score was deadlocked at 14-14.
The Union defense stood their ground, Lakewood decided to for it on fourth down from the Union 36-yard line. But the reverse play was played well by Union stopping the Leopards in their tracks.
The Spartans would have one final chance with just over a minute remaining. They would drive down to the Lakewood 25 yard line, on first and ten Hayes would get outside and cruise into the end zone for the game winning score. The conversion run by Goodwin was good and the Spartans took the dub 22-14.
Lakewood coach James Lewis said after the game that Hayes hurt them all night.
“Union wanted it more tonight. Union sucked it up at the end and did a job, they earned it,” Lewis said. “I’m disappointed in our offense. We had a ton of dropped passes.”
Burley said he was proud of his boys.
”We didn’t quit, played hard, and our offense on the last scoring drive was simply great,” added Burley. “Lakewood has a great coaching staff and program. Coach Lewis coached me when I was in high school. They will get their team back on track.”
“It was a great team effort tonight,” concluded Burley.
The Leopards were led offensively by Carsell Bennett with 17 rushes for 81 yards and Zach Tanner with 15 carries and 61 yards. Defensively, Luke Brewer and Triston Holmes brought down 11 tackles and eight tackles, respectively.
For the Spartans Holmes carried the ball seven times for 53 yards.
The Spartans record now stands at 1-0 while the Leopards record falls to 0-1.
Union has an open date on Friday and Lakewood will entertain East Columbus at 7:30 p.m.
Melony Henderson can be reached at [email protected] or at 910-376-2127.