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Bears build early lead, hold off Blue Devils

Kevin Mays • Sep 28, 2019 at 1:24 AM

BIG STONE GAP — Union dominated the first half then held off a determined Gate City squad Friday to take a key Mountain 7 District football win.

Union (5-0, 2-0) scored on its first three possessions and used a time-consuming third-quarter drive to come away with a 28-14 victory over the Blue Devils (1-4, 0-3) at Bullitt Park.

“We got off to a really good start,” said Union coach Travis Turner. “We had a couple of turnovers that changed the momentum of the game and we had to overcome it. And that’s high school football.

“I thought defensively we played pretty well.”

THE BEAST IS LOOSE

The Bears’ defense held Gate City in check in the first half on the way to building a 21-0 lead. In the second half, however, Union had a more difficult time stopping seniors Michael Calhoun and Logan Tomlinson.

Calhoun finished with 158 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Tomlinson had an even 100 yards on 10 carries.

“Calhoun, he is a man,” Turner said of the Gate City fullback. “I watched Calhoun in track. He throws shot and disc. He’s a super athlete. Tough kid, hard-nosed, just a typical Gate City player.”

Blue Devils coach Jeremy Houseright was pleased with the way his team responded in the second half after giving up three quick scores in the first quarter.

“We grew up a little bit in the second half,” Houseright said. “We took a step forward for the first time in a couple of weeks. The kids battled their tails off. You have to give Union credit. They got the lead early and they’re a very well-coached football team. They’ve got a good team.

“These kids, they battled and they played their tails off the whole game and they got us right within striking distance at the end. I’m proud of them and proud of their effort. We got better. We got better tonight.”

BACK TO BASICS

The Bears opened up their offense in the first half, putting the ball in the air more Friday than they have all season. Junior quarterback Brody Gibson completed 5 of 9 passes for 102 yards.

In the second half, Union went back to its basic T-formation, three-running back attack led by senior Mason Polier. Polier finished with 97 yards and three touchdowns — including a 63-yarder — on 13 carries.

He was a key figure during a 13-play drive that covered 61 yards and ate up the final 6:06 of the third quarter and the first five seconds of the fourth. Polier capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.

“I thought on that big drive the offensive line did a great job opening up holes and I really liked the way the backs blocked for each other,” Turner noted.

Antwun Jenkins also played a big role in the Bears’ offense, rushing for 84 yards on seven carries and making three receptions for 71 yards. Zavier Lomax added 61 yards rushing on 12 attempts with one score.

UP NEXT

Both teams return to nondistrict play next week. Union plays at home against Paintsville, Kentucky, and Gate City faces another tough road challenge at George Wythe.

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