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Game of the Week

A good mix

Laurel (18) vs. Union (8)
Written: Aug 27, 2016
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The defense delivered Friday night for the Laurel High football team.

And Spencer Jones took care of the rest on the offensive side of the ball for the Spartans.

Laurel limited Union to just 65 total yards and three first downs, while Jones went over 100 yards rushing in an 18-8 season-opening non-league home win.

“I thought defensively we played very well,” Spartans coach Brian Cooper said. “I thought they played very consistently and tackled well — that was good to see.”

Jones amassed 125 rushing yards on 28 carries. He scored two touchdowns on runs of two yards and one yard.

“We knew he could be that workhorse for us and he really did that,” Cooper said. “He responded well and did exactly what we wanted. He fought hard for those extra yards and did a tremendous job.”

Jones had 15 carries for 78 yards and a score in the second half as he helped tire out the Scotties’ defense.

“Somebody was wearing us out in the second half,” veteran Union coach Stacy Robinson said. “I don’t know who it was, but they were wearing us out.”

Field position played a key role in Union’s offensive struggles in the first half. The Scotties had five first-half possessions and their average starting field position was inside the 20. Union’s first three drives started deep in its own end at the 6, 14 and 11.

“We were on our heels for most of the first half,” Robinson said. “We got ourselves in a hole with that first punt that we shouldn’t have fielded. It just took off from there.”

Despite the poor field position and only managing one first down and 12 total yards, the Scotties trailed just 6-0.

Union had a touchdown run called back because of a hold in the opening half.

“We had penalties in the first half that were costly,” Robinson said. “We weren’t functioning properly on all cylinders.

“It’s things that can be corrected, that’s for sure. I wasn’t happy with our offensive production at all.”

Laurel, though, missed out on golden opportunities in the opening half which could have led to a bigger advantage. The Spartans threw two interceptions in the first 12 minutes, while punting twice inside Union territory.

“I thought defensively we played well,” Cooper said of the first half. “I thought we had our chances offensively to make those big plays and we just didn’t convert.

“We took ourselves out of drives. I felt we really could have gained a lot of momentum early in the game.”

Cooper decided at halftime that the ground game was going to be key factor in the final 24 minutes.

“We weren’t panicking at halftime,” Cooper said. “I think the kids knew we could run the football.

“We wanted to come out in the second half and just pound it. That’s exactly what we did. We weren’t thinking about throwing the football, we were just going to run it. I think the kids responded well.”

Jesse Pacifico scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to put Laurel up 18-0 early in the fourth frame. But the Scotties made it a game again when Tre’von Charles returned the kickoff 80 yards for a score. Tyler Benedict converted the two-point attempt on a quarterback keeper to close to 18-8 with 10:47 to go.

“That will give us something to work on and preach about with special teams,” Cooper said. “One breakdown and it can turn the whole game around. We had control of the game and now they’re back in it and they have some momentum.”

Benedict, a 5-foot-11, 153-pound freshman quarterback/defensive back, played the final three quarters after starting quarterback Evan Pinkerton left the game with what Robinson believes to be an upper-body injury.

“That kind of put us behind the eight-ball and we had to adjust,” Robinson said. “I thought Benedict did a great job.

“He’s going to get more reps and he’s going to get better. If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse; he’ll definitely get better. Pinkerton’s loss was a big one. Evan just got tackled and landed wrong.”

Both teams were taking advantage of the opportunity to play a Week Zero game and were happy they did.

“The last couple of years you go right into league play and after week one you’re thinking you wish you would have done a couple of things a little differently,” Cooper said. “We know what we have to work on and get better at. I thought we did a lot of positive things. I thought we ran the ball extremely well.”

Said Robinson, “It’s the first game. It was a game to try and play ourselves into shape and get used to live contact for four quarters. We just didn’t perform well.

“The good news is we have a chance to open up section play next week. We need all the experience we can get. With our limited numbers it’s hard to practice and simulate live action. For the first week zero thing, I’m happy with it. We needed it.”

Laurel opens Midwestern Conference action at Mohawk at 7 p.m. Friday, while Union hosts Sto-Rox in a Big Seven Conference encounter, also at 7 p.m. Friday.



3 First downs 15

38 Yards Rushing 205

28 Yards Lost 17

10 Net Rushing 188

11 Passes Attempted 11

6 Passes Completed 3

0 Passes Intercepted 2

55 Yards Passing 48

65 Total Yards 236

2-2 Fumbles-Lost 3-0

6-34.8 Punts-Average 5-29.6

5-35 Penalties-Yards 7-75

UNION 0 0 0 8 — 8

LAUREL 6 0 6 6 — 18

Scoring plays

LAUREL — Spencer Jones, 2-yard run (kick failed).

LAUREL — Jones, 1-yard run (pass failed).

LAUREL — Jesse Pacifico, 11-yard run (kick failed).

UNION — Tre’von Charles, 80-yard kickoff return (Tyler Benedict run).
Laurel 6 0 6 6 0 18
Union 0 0 0 8 0 8
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Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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