UNION — Newberry High School was ready to play Friday night in their season opener against Union County and defeated the Yellow Jackets 34-27 at Union County High School.
After winning the coin toss, the Yellow Jackets went to the air twice to cover 77 yards for the touchdown. The PAT kick was good as Union County had a 7-0 lead just 42 seconds into the contest.
Cedric Gallman had 15 yards added on to his kick-off return due to a late hit and Newberry started its first offensive possession in the opponent’s end of the field.
After a 13-yard pass on second down from Yafari Werts to Zicorious Riley down to the 29, Amir Abrams turned a four-yard run into a 17-yard play down to the 12 after a facemask penalty on the Yellow Jackets.
Werts cut the lead to a point five plays later with a keeper from the one. Ethan Day’s kick was no good with just over eight minutes left in the opening quarter.
Tyjil Brown’s interception of the 49-yard pass put Newberry right back on the field 17 seconds later at their nine. Werts made a 27-yard scamper on a second-and-11 after a time-out.
Werts surpassed the 2,000 yard rushing career mark during the drive before the team was forced to punt from the Union 34.
The Yellow Jackets extended their lead to 14-6 with a six-yard pass play 10:23 before the break.
Starting from his 22, Werts ran untouched and unchallenged 78 yards for a touchdown but a Newberry holding penalty brought the ball back 77 yards.
With only pass play on this drive — a 55-yard reception by Riley — Newberry scored on a 13-yard Zy Towns run at the 7:53 mark of the first half. Werts was stopped on his two-point conversion and Newberry trailed 14-12 into the locker rooms.
After converting one third down, Newberry worked its way down to the Union nine before Day was sent out to attempt a 26-yard field goal. After a five-yard penalty went against Newberry, Day was brought out while Miguel Luviano was sent in inside to attempt the 31 yarder.
The kick was blocked and picked up by Union County but fumbled over to Tyvarious Wise at the five-yard line.
Abrams scored one play later and a two-point pass from Werts to Towns gave Newberry the 20-14 lead with 6:33 left in the third quarter.
Looking at a first-and-20 from its 22, Union County went to the air but fumbled over to Jaceri Caldwell at the 29-yard line.
On a fourth-and-14 from the 34, Werts threw a pass to Towns at the four with a Jacket defender the closest to the catch. Towns out dove and out wrestled the Union player for the reception.
Chris Wadsworth scored one play later and Kaleb Rosemond’s two-point reception gave Newberry the 28-14 lead with 3:26 left in the quarter.
Union County’s receiver was 15 yards behind the closest Newberry defender on a potential 73-yard touchdown reception but the Yellow Jacket threw the ball down at the one-yard line before it crossed the goal line.
The official never blew the play dead and Truqoun Dominick picked up the fumble and followed 10 blockers 99 yards for the touchdown score. Day’s PAT was no good but Newberry had suddenly turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 20-point lead just 9:04 inside the second half.
After Union County scored one play after a Newberry punt, a Bulldog score gave them a two-possession lead with less than eight minutes left in the game. Werts led his Bulldogs from the 20 down to the Union five.
Werts was intercepted in the end zone which led to a Yellow Jacket touchdown with just under six minutes left in the game. Newberry’s lead was cut to seven points.
Union County recovered a Newberry fumble at the 16 and had only 54 seconds to work with. Union took more than 10 seconds on a nine-yard pass play before an intentional grounding penalty turned their next play into a third-and-15 at their 12.
Union County worked its way up to the 40 in just two plays and a first down pass play fell incomplete with 2.6 seconds left on the clock.
Union County never got a pass off after the quarterback was sacked at the 31 by Adrian Boyd to end the ball game.
Abrams ended the night with 98 yards rushing on 24 carries to lead Newberry. Werts had 91 yards on 13 carries and Wadsworth ran 13 times for 43 yards.
Towns, Riley and Derrick Scurry rushed the ball for Newberry and ended with 11, eight and three yards, respectively. Riley caught four passes for 72 yards while Towns and Chris Neal each had a lone reception for 30 and 20 yards, respectively.
Newberry, ranked third in the latest AP AA poll, travels to Clinton on Friday.