Eagles break through for first win
Western Harnett came into week five’s football game at Union Pines winless. Union Pines came into the game with a three-game winning streak.
Western Harnett, however, had beaten Union Pines last year by a score of 51-28, extending its win streak over the Vikings to five in a row. The Eagles (1-4) made it six straight over the Vikings (3-2) with a 43-35 victory Friday night.
Based upon the first Viking possession of the game, the Vikings were ready to snap the Eagle winning streak.
Union Pages received the opening kick of the game and ran the ball 11 straight times for 51 yards, down to Western Harnett’s 17-yard line. With 6:31 remaining in the first quarter, junior quarterback Max Yates connected with Joseph Giesler for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Those would be, however, the only points the Vikings would score in the first half.
Western Harnett appeared they would answer Union Pines with a score of their own, but after Laron Gilchrist jaunted for 23 yards on fourth and one, Gilchrist fumbled the ball back to Union Pines with 4:48 remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles forced a Viking punt and on the second play of the next Eagle drive, Darius Alston ran for 26 yards to the Vikings 39-yard line. Two plays later, Deshaun Alston ran for 20 yards to the 9-yard line.
Gilchrist scored on a 9-yard run to begin the second quarter, and to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:53 remaining in the first half.
The Eagles kept their next drive going with a fake punt. On 4th-and-5 from the Viking 45, the Eagles gained eight yards. From there, Darius Alston scored on a 21-yard run putting the Eagles ahead 13-7 with 2:36 left in the first half.
At halftime, Union Pines had 122 yards of offense, 90 yards running and 32 yards passing, while Western Harnett had 259 yards rushing - Gilchrist accounted for 116 yards and a touchdown and Darius Alston ran for 103 yards and a touchdown. Deshaun Alston rambled for 40 yards.
Western Harnett received the opening kickoff of the second half and, carrying their momentum from the first half, scored on Deshaun Alston’s 20-yard touchdown run to stake the Eagles to a 21-7 lead with 10:37 left in the third quarter.
Union Pines was unable to convert on fourth and four, giving the ball back to Western Harnett on the Viking 48-yard line.
On the sixth straight run by the Eagles, Gilchrist scored his second touchdown of the night on a 5-yard romp to stake Western Harnett to a 28-7 lead at the 6:17 mark of the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Vikings scored a touchdown on a 14-yard pass from Yates to Dakota Hicks to cut the Eagle lead to 28-13 with 4:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Union Pines’ onside kick went out of bounds to give the ball to Western Harnett but the Eagles were unable to convert on fourth down.
The Vikings drove to the Western Harnett 23 before the Eagles came up with an interception. The turnover led to another long Eagle drive and Gartrel Barnes scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run. With a two-point conversion, the Eagles led 36-13 with 7:51 left in the game.
The sides traded touchdowns in a hurry as Kaleb Johnson scored on a 4-yard run for the Vikings with 7:12 remaining. A 39-yard pass to Giesler set up Johnson's touchdown.
The Eagles recovered another onsides kick and Gilchrist went for his third touchdown on a 4-yard run for a 43-21 Western Harnett lead with 4:05 left.
Union Pines scored two touchdowns, in about 90 seconds, but Western Harnett held on for a 43 -35 win. Yates finished with 188 yards and three touchdowns passing.
The Eagles totaled 464 yards on offense, all rushing, on the night. Darius Alston rushed for 190 yards and Gilchrist had 171 yards.