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Football: West Bladen 28, Union 23

FootballROSE HILL – Malique McDowell bulled his way into the end zone with 37 seconds remaining Monday night as West Bladen rallied in the final 95 seconds for a 28-23 Four County 1A/2A Conference victory against Union.

McDowell’s 4-yard run capped a 7-play, 80-yard drive and came about a minute after Union had taken the lead following a mishandled punt snap that set up the Spartans at the 10 with three minutes remaining.

Union quarterback Dawson Thornton scored his second touchdown with 1:35 remaining that put the Spartans ahead 23-22.

West Bladen began its winning drive from the 20 after a touchback on the kickoff. On the first play, quarterback Stefan McDonald had a wide open B.J. Drake downfield, but the sophomore, who scored once and rushed for 109 yards, dropped the pass. However, a late hit penalty against Union moved the ball to the 35.

McDonald then connected with Traquan Horne on a 46-yard pass play that moved the ball to the Union 19 with 1:15 remaining. A 4-yard scramble by McDonald and a 6-yard run by Horne put the ball at the 9 with under a minute left. After McDonald was stopped for no gain, McDowell did the rest, running for 5 yards, then covering the final 4 yards for the winning score. McDowell finished with 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

“We worked on a trick play for seven days now, and it was the right time to call it,” West Bladen coach Russell Dove said about Horne’s catch that put the Knights in scoring position. “He made a heck of a catch, and that set us up where we got Malique on the belly and he scored the touchdown.

“I knew it was going to be a rough game. We had this same type of game two years ago. It was a real emotional game, first conference game, (Union’s) homecoming, weather was an issue. We let them hang around.

“We haven’t played football in 17 days (since beating St. Pauls 43-20 on Sept. 11), so there was a lot of rust, defensively and offensively,” Dove said.

The win improved West Bladen to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference. Union is 3-2 and 0-1.

With the game against Union being rescheduled from Friday because of the weather, it means the Knights only have three days to prepare for defending 1-AA state champion Wallace-Rose Hill on Friday in Teachey. Wallace-Rose Hill is 4-1 this season and defeated Rocky Point Trask 62-19 last Thursday.

“It concerns me because Wallace-Rose Hill played Thursday and they’re going to be really fresh,” Dove said. “We’re going to be a little weary. We’re not going to do a lot of hitting this week. I think assignments are the issue for us. This was our Tuesday and Wednesday hitting here. We’re going to watch a lot of film. There’s a lot of stuff we’ve got to correct. I think a lot of it is rust and us not playing football the way we usually play.”

Against Union, the Knights jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter, tackling Union’s Shyquan Brunson in the end zone for a safety, and getting a 2-yard run from McDonald that capped an 8-play, 68-yard drive.

Union answered following the kickoff, going 76 yards in 10 plays with Thornton, the quarterback, sneaking in from the 1. Brunson’s conversion run made it 8-8 with 9:41 remaining in the second quarter.

The Spartans took an 11-8 lead with 15 seconds left before halftime on Xavy Laza’s 30-yard field goal.

Union tacked on a touchdown midway the third quarter on a 21-yard run by Chris Nash. The conversion run failed and it was 17-8 Spartans with 7:48 remaining in the period.

West Bladen answered as Drake scored on a 52-yard run. McDonald’s conversion run pulled the Knights within 17-16 with 5:29 remaining the third quarter.

The Knights took a 22-17 lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on McDowell’s 76-yard run.

That set the stage for the dramatic finish as the teams exchanged touchdowns with less than two minutes to play.

Scoring summary

West Bladen     8 –  0 – 8 – 12 —  28
Union                0 – 11 – 6 –  6 —  23

WB – Safety, Shyquan Brunson tackled in end zone
WB – Stefan McDonald 2 run (kick blocked)
U – Dawson Thornton 1 run (Shyquan Brunson run)
U – Field goal Xavy Laza 30
U- Chris Nash 21 run (run failed)
WB – B.J. Drake 52 run (Stefan McDonald run)
WB – Malique McDowell 76 run (run failed)
U – Dawson Thornton 1 run (run failed)
WB – Malique McDowell 4 run (run failed)

Rushing: WB – Malique McDowell 10-124, B.J. Drake 12-109, James Moore 16-36, Daquan Lennon 1-9, Traquan Horne 2-9, Ray Jones 1-(-9), Stefan McDonald 5-(-11). U – Chris Nash 23-128, Shyquan Brunson 17-91, Jawawn Newkirk 5-44, Nadir Goodwin 3-33, Tamah Chestnutt 2-(-1), Dawson Thornton 7-(-7).

Passing: WB – Stefan McDonald 4-6-0-57. U – Dawson Thornton 4-13-0-33, Shyquan Brunson 0-0-0-0.

Receiving: WB – Traquan Horne 2-49, Malique McDowell 1-8. U – Nadir Goodwin 2-25, Warren Gay 1-7, Donovan Hayes 1-1.

Records: West Bladen 4-1 overall, 1-0 Four County 1A/2A; Union 3-2 overall, 0-1 Four County 1A/2A.

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