Big third quarter lifts Spartans past Princeton
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 3, 2006 2:08 AM
PRINCETON -- On the surface, Union's 421-83 edge over Princeton in total yards may seem like the most telling statistic in the Spartans' 48-3 romp at the Fred L. Bartholomew, Jr. Athletic Complex on Friday night.
But another key number -- turnover margin -- proved just as crucial in Princeton's inability to stay within striking distance of its visitors from Sampson County in the second half.
Leading just 14-3 at intermission, Union posted 21 points in just over one minute to essentially put the game out of reach early in the third quarter. Out of their single-wing, no-huddle offense, the Spartans' Caleb Hall, who was 3-of-3 passing for 63 yards with two touchdowns, connected with Rusion Pickett for a short pace on the right sideline as Picket raced 47 yards to paydirt to make it 21-3 just four plays into the second half.
Union (2-0) successfully recovered an onsides kick on the ensuing kickoff, then scored two plays later on a 40-yard rumble by Issac Carr. Capping a disappointing series of events for Princeton, quarterback Matt Blackwell lost a fumble on the Bulldogs' next series as the Spartans' Lamont Lamb scooped up the loose ball and jogged in from 17 yards out.
Antonio Garcia, who finished six-of-seven on extra points, knocked in the point after to push the margin to 35-3.
"Tonight, we just didn't play well at all," Bulldogs' coach Russell Williamson said. "We were right in the game, and I thought we made some good adjustments at halftime. But we gave up two or three big plays and had the turnovers to magnify it."
Union capped a 27-point third quarter when six-foot-four defensive end, Tobias Adams, picked off a Blackwell pass at the Spartan 11 and easily scored. By game's end, Princeton had four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) from scrimmage and lost two onsides kicks, while Union had just one turnover.
The Bulldogs (1-3) never managed to get their offense going consistently against Union's 3-5 defense as they netted just 52 yards rushing on 35 carries and got just 31 yards on 3-of-11 passing from Blackwell, who faced his fair share of pressure. Senior Gerrell Bogle's 43-yard jaunt midway through the second quarter proved to be the biggest offensive highlight of the night for Princeton, who had just eight first downs to Union's 19.
Six plays after Bogle's long run and with just under two minutes left in the half, Bulldogs' three-year kicker, Colin Parker, converted a 41-yard field goal to put Princeton on the board. The kick was a career long for the left-footer, eclipsing his former mark of 39 yards.
"It was right before the half and we just wanted to put some points on the board," Parker said. "I haven't worked on my long kicking as hard as I used to, but I guess it's still there."
The Bulldogs forced Union to put on its final possession of the half and seemed to be going into the locker room with confidence and momentum. But the Spartans quick scoring outburst in the third quarter squashed any hopes of Princeton contending for its second straight win.
Union ran for 358 yards on 56 carries, using a bevy of backs. Hall led the way with 85 yards, while Carr (74 yards), Williams (56 yards), Tim Robinson (43 yards), Desmond Joyner (42 yards) and Pickett (40 yards) all contributed to the attack.
Princeton travels to Midway on Friday, while Union has an open date before hosting South Brunswick on Sept. 15.
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