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The young Union County team was once again tested on the road and faced their toughest opponent yet in Ripley. Battling several obstacles throughout the week, UC dropped a 47-6 decision Friday night.
“They did a great job, and they have many great players,” UC head coach Scott Duley said. “I watched them in week one against New Albany, and the improvement on their defense, I think, has been great.”
Issac Bails opened the game with a 42-yard run and added another score later to make it 19-0 after the first quarter. Justin Terry would later convert on a 77-yard run, as the Tigers led 40-0 at the half.
“Offensively, we knew what they were going to do, we just couldn’t stop it,” Duley said. “We had a lot of missed tackles, and we also had a lot of kids that ran up there, wrapped their legs up like I’ve taught them to, and the Ripley running backs just kept running. We haven’t played anyone nearly as big or strong or fast, and our kids had an idea of what was coming, but you really don’t know what it’s like until you experience it.”
Offensively for UC, Duley credited the play of Broderick Montgomery, Gradon Pannell and Vadale Rucker, who scored the team’s lone touchdown in the fourth quarter. The focus remains on the offensive line, a unit Duley takes responsibility for and said more work will be done with the group in the future.
“For the second week in a row, our offensive line played poorly, and I take responsibility for that,” he said. “We’ve got to get back to what we were doing two weeks ago, and I need to go back to spending more time with them and less time scheming. We’re going to get back this week to fundamental things.”
“We had some more opportunities and we threw the ball more tonight. We were open and we dropped a couple of balls, misjudged a couple, and at other times we just didn’t make a great throw. The positive I can take away is that they never quit all night.”
Entering the final games of the season, Union County will face teams they are more accustomed to, beginning with Strayhorn next week, followed by Benton County and New Site. Duley hopes for not only improvement from his team, but also a win.
“These are teams that are certainly on more of our classification level. We have Strayhorn, that has played well so far this year, so it’s not going to be an easy game, but it’s one that we can match up better in than Ripley,” he said. “I believe all three of those games are winnable games, but in the same token, if our kids get discouraged, we’re going to put ourselves in a bad position. Hopefully that won’t happen.”
Despite the tough loss, Duley said there were several lessons learned in the experience.
“Ripley is a good team, they have been for a long time, and it’s one of those nights where we probably learned more from tonight than we probably will from any win we’ll have in the future.”