Union Pines capitalized on two early mistakes to take its first Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity football win of the season 14-7 at Harnett Central’s Homecoming on Monday night.
“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well,” said Harnett Central coach Matt Migliore. “We made some adjustments this week defensively. To hold them scoreless as an offense other than giving them a ‘gimme’ down there on a one-yard drive, I thought we played pretty well defensively.
“Offensively, we’re scratching our heads right now. They did exactly what we thought they were going to do in the look that they gave us and the personnel that they gave us. For some reason, we just couldn’t attack it. We couldn’t execute. I thought we had plenty of opportunities in the way that we tried to attack it, we just didn’t execute.”
Senior Hayden Smith completed 12-of-26 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, and ran for two yards. Sophomore Jaden Bryant had four receptions for 63 yards and completed a 33-yard pass for the Trojans (1-7, 0-3 TCSC).
Jaden Meadows had four receptions for 57 yards and ran for four yards. Kasey Perkins had three receptions for 50 yards. Devin Perry ran for 31 yards on three carries. Brandon Booker ran for 10 yards. Everett Blake had an eight-yard touchdown reception.
Junior Tyreek McCoy ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries to lead the Vikings (4-5, 1-3).
Central’s defense forced four turnovers in the contest, including three that denied the Vikings scoring opportunities in the red zone. Blake, Booker and Anthony Tomlinson each had an interception and Jackson Jones recovered a fumble.
“That’s what’s head scratching and frustrating,” Migliore said. “You get momentum several times and you have a chance to turn the tide and even it up and all those things, but keep laying an egg. I’m not sure what the answer is for us right now. With us having some injuries and stuff, we’re going to have to figure something out real quick with us having a quick turnaround this week.”
All of the game’s points were scored in the first quarter.
Midway through the first quarter, a bad snap on a Central punt gave the Vikings possession on the Trojans’ one-yard-line. One play later, McCoy ran it in for a touchdown. Union Pines scored again nearly one minute later when Jared Hogan returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown. Dan Rathbun made both extra points.
A long kick return by Booker, with a facemask penalty tacked on, gave the Trojans good field position on the following drive. Another penalty for a late hit out of bounds at the end of a Smith run put the Trojans in the red zone. That led to Smith connecting with Blake for an eight-yard score. Jonathan Solis made the extra point.
Harnett Central will have a short week to prepare for a county rivalry game on the road at Triton (1-6, 1-3) on Friday night.
“It’s tough,” Migliore said. “I don’t like these Monday night games. I’m not a fan. I really, really pushed for us to play on Saturday so that we didn’t have to be in this situation. But, everyone’s going to have to adjust and be able to do what we ask them to do.
“A lot of people say that this is a big rivalry game and I think our kids believe that. I don’t think the excitement or the energy is what we’re lacking. Somehow, someway, we’ve got to figure out how to run the ball. That’s our biggest thing. And if we can’t run the ball against them, they’re going to run it and shorten the clock in the game real quick.”