The Union Bears, fresh off their first regular-season loss in more than two years, took care of business Friday night, methodically rolling past winless Gate City for a 33-13 Mountain 7 District victory.
The Bears scored on their first five possessions and led 33-0 when coach Travis Turner called off the dogs with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
Union (4-1, 1-1) led 26-0 at halftime.
“Going on the road and playing here where it’s always a tough place to play ... to come here and get a win is satisfying,” Turner said. “I was very pleased with how we executed offensively.
“I thought we responded well (to last week’s 27-14 loss to Ridgeview). The kids came in to work every day and we had a week of good, spirited practices. We were ready to play.”
With a ground game featuring a trio of capable runners and producing over 200 yards, the Bears did what they wanted offensively.
Avery Jenkins, who led Union’s rushing attack with 91 yards on 12 carries, scored on a 30-yard run to make it a 12-0 game early in the second period.
Power back Mason Polier gained 72 yards and tallied the game’s first touchdown on an 8-yard run. Aaron Stidham produced 50 yards and tacked on Union’s final score with a 5-yard scamper.
“We especially executed well the first couple of drives,” Turner said. “And I thought we passed the ball well tonight. Our receivers ran good routes — that’s half of it — and our line provided us with good pass protection. I thought we threw it well.”
Union senior quarterback Bailey Turner had a perfect evening, completing 7-of-7 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
His scoring passes of 13 and 15 yards both went to wideout Justin Falin, a multitalented senior who pulled in five receptions for 49 yards in addition to booming every kickoff either inside the 5 or into the end zone.
Bailey Turner missed all but the first game last year with a knee injury.
“He’s getting more confident and comfortable every week as we let him do a little more and more,” said Coach Turner, the quarterback’s father. “And Justin, he does a good job getting open and can catch it — plus he’s an excellent kicker for us.”
AVOIDING THE SHUTOUT
Gate City (0-5, 0-2) got on the scoreboard twice in the fourth quarter with backup quarterback D’Andre Mack, a starting running back, under center.
Logan Tomlinson finally broke the ice on a 2-yard run midway through the final period, and then Landon Blanton followed soon thereafter with a 7-yard touchdown jaunt.
But the Devils, whose schedule is front-loaded with heavyweights, were never a threat to win and have now dropped 15 of their last 16 games.
“We’re getting better, but at the end of the day it’s not the result we want,” said third-year Gate City coach Chris Akers.
“Obviously, we’ve got to keep working. The kids are upbeat and we still have faith in ourselves. We’ll be battle-tested whoever we play down the road, and we’ll start every week of practice on Mondays with the intent of winning our next game.”
(This story has been corrected.)