East Union wins first playoff game in school history

Blake Spruill (middle of photo) plunges in from the three for the winning touchdown for East Union as they defeated H.W. Byers 35-34. It was the first playoff win in football for the Urchins. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Blake Spruill (middle of photo) plunges in from the three for the winning touchdown for East Union as they defeated H.W. Byers 35-34. It was the first playoff win in football for the Urchins. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

By Dennis Clayton
Coach Scott Duley’s East Union Urchins showed their grit, determination and heart as they rallied from a 34-21 deficit and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 35-34. Coach Duley said “They (Urchins) played an amazing game. They didn’t quit, we just played a team that was more athletic than us and our defense never quit and our offense never quit. I can’t say enough about our players because they were the ones telling me that we can do this, we can do this.”
And they did it. The Urchins hung around despite four turnovers and were helped themselves by a fourth-down gamble by Byers. Facing a fourth-and-four at their own 19, the Lions lined up in punt formation with a less than three minutes remaining. Instead of punting, the Lions attempted a fake on a short running play which was snuffed out by the Urchin defense resulting in East Union taking over on downs. East Union took possession with 2:12 left and the score standing at 34-29. East Union drove 18 yards in four plays, with Blake Spruill rushing every play. Spruill capped the red zone drive with a 3-yard touchdown with 0:29 left to put the Urchins on top for good at 35-34.
Unofficially, Spruill had 205 yards on 38 carries with three touchdowns, two two-point conversions and one PAT. Quarterback D.J. Armstrong was 5-10 passing for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdown passes were to Lane Plunk who recorded three catches for 75 yards.
Byers got the scoring started for the night as they scored a touchdown at the 8:00 mark of the first quarter on a Justin Sellars three yard run. The two-point attmept was unsuccessful and the Lions led 6-0.
East Union took seven plays to march 63 yards to tie the score on Blake Spruill’s seven-yard run. Spruill also ran the two-point conversion in for the Urchins. With 4:53 left in the first quarter, the Urchins led 8-6.
The lead was short-lived as Byers took two plays to score their next touchdown, a 76 yard TD pass from Anthony Rubin to Montavious Reynolds. The run for two failed and with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter, Byers held a 12-8 advantage.
East Union began their next scoring drive following the Byers touchdown and the Urchins hit paydirt in the second quarter with 9:31 left as D.J. Armstrong hit Lane Plunk on a 10-yard TD pass. Spruill added the PAT and the Urchins regained the lead 15-12.
Byers began their next possession at their own seven as the deep back touched the kickoff before it bounced out of bounds. It failed to faze the Lions as they drove 93 yards in 9 plays to score their third touchdown of the night to retake the lead 18-15 with 4:51 left in the half. Marquis Moore ran in from the 10 for the score. The Lions were unsuccessful on the running play attempt for the two-point conversion.
East Union took the next possession 75 yards in a little over four minutes and Armstrong again found Plunk for the touchdown on a 34-yard strike. The PAT was no good and East Union took a 21-18 lead into the half.
Byers scored twice during the third quarter, the first drive took 11 plays and covered 64 yards. Lions quarterback Rubin scored from the two for the lead and followed that with a successful two point conversion pass to Reynolds and Byers led 26-21.
East Union fumbled the kickoff and Byers took over at the Urchin 25. Rubin found Reynolds for a 21-yard TD pass with 0:36 left in the third quarter. Rubin ran for the two-point conversion and the quarter ended with Byers leading 34-21.
East Union drove 69 yards in nine plays to close the score to 34-27 as Spruill scored from a yard out. Spruill’s number was called on the two point try and he answered to move the score to 34-29 with 9:21 left in the game. The stage was then set for the final score of the Urchins with 0:29 to win the contest 35-34.
Coach Duley said “We’ve got some things we need to clean up on offense with the four turnovers, three of those were on miscommunicated calls and I have to share responsibility in that, but I’m really proud of our young men, really proud of our program.”
East Union will host Eupora next Friday night. Eupora defeated South Delta 34-14.

About Dennis Clayton

I cover high school sports in Union County and occasionally contribute sports articles to sister community newspapers of Journal Inc. Follow me on Twitter: @denclayton for scores and updates on our local high school teams.