BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Union only packed the Bear essentials for Saturday’s first-time visit to Mitchell Stadium. In the end, it was enough to get the job done.
Running back Jake McCray scored fourth-quarter touchdowns on runs of 6 and 24 yards to lift Union to a 34-26 win over Graham in the opening round of the VHSL Group A, Division 2 West Section football playoffs Saturday night.
“We started realizing how much this meant to us. We didn’t change anything. We just started blocking better and running harder, ” said McCray, who led the Bears (8-3) with 184 yards rushing on the night.
After trailing 13-10 at the half, the G-Men (7-4) came alive behind an electrifying performance from quarterback Spencer Sheets. The 5-foot-8, 144-pound senior scrambled for 115 of his 124 yards in the final two quarters, also passing for 130 second-half yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Colby Hill that cut Union’s lead to 27-20 in the fourth quarter.
Beyond that, Sheets’ 1-yard scoring sneak as the game ended marked the only other points he was able to put on the board after halftime.
The G-Men were flagged 10 times for 115 yards. A lot of the penalties, however, were personal fouls that resulted from Graham players’ apparent attempts to overcompensate for Union’s edge in physicality.
It got more evident as the game wore on. A Graham player was ejected for fighting after a late (and critical) onside kick attempt that devolved into near-bedlam and forced officials to temporarily clear the field. The G-Men trailed by only a TD at the time, but the flurry of flags that resulted shortened the field for McCray’s game-winning score.
The Bears were rewarded for keeping their collective cool.
For complete coverage of the game, see the Nov. 11 edition of the Times-News.