CLINTON — West Bladen’s Colby Lewis and Malcolm Vaught sliced up the Union defense, and Trevor Lesane intercepted a last-second pass by the Spartans to seal a 41-34 Four County Conference win on Friday.
The win is the Knights first conference ‘W’ since 2011 and gives them a record of 3-2 overall, 1-0 in the conference. Union falls to 1-4, 0-1.
The Knights had to endure a sensational night by the Spartans’ star running back, Dezmond Faison, who rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries.
But West Bladen had some star power of its own. Vaught toted the ball just seven times for the Knights, but racked up 207 yards. He also hauled in three passes for 38 yards. Lewis, meanwhile, was churning out the yards as well, rushing for 114 yards on 20 carries and passing for another 52 yards.
West Bladen opened the game with an 80-yard march that featured a fourth-and-goal from the Spartans’ 16, where Lewis put a perfect touch on a pass to the back of the end zone and into the waiting arms of Vaught. Colby Mclean added the point after and the Knights led 7-0 midway into the first quarter.
On the ensuing Union possession, Scottie Storms fell on a Spartans fumble and gave the Knights possession at their own 46. West Bladen didn’t waste time springing Da’quan Lennon free for a 39-yard touchdown run. McLean’s PAT was good and gave West Bladen a 14-0 lead late in the quarter.
In the second quarter, after a West Bladen fumble gave Union the ball in Knights territory, a Spartans pass was deflected by Parker Allen and picked off by Stefan McDonald. West Bladen then went on an eight-play, 54-yard scoring march that ended on a fourth-down, 22-yard touchdown run by Vaught. McLean lifted the PAT and the Knights were out in front 21-0 with just over 4 minutes left in the half.
Union used less than a minute to get on the board, cutting the deficit to 21-7 as the half wound down.
The Spartans began to turn the tables in the second half, getting a touchdown midway into the third quarter to pull within 21-14. West Bladen managed to answer when Vaught got loose for a 67 yard run to the Union 15, and Lewis carried the ball in from here. McLean’s extra pint was good and the Knights went up, 28-14, with 3 minutes left in the quarter.
The fourth quarter became a scoring shootout, as the two teams combined for 33 points and plenty of yardage.
Union struck first with a touchdown at the 9:06 mark. The conversion failed, but the Spartans were withing 28-20. The Knights seemingly answered with a 60-yard touchdown run by Lewis but, as he approached the goal line, a Spartans defender poked the ball out and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
Three plays later, Union scored again — adding the two-point try and knotting the score at 28-28 with 5 minutes left in the game.
West Bladen never collapsed. Instead, the Knights manufactured a 90-yard march on just seven plays. A 46-yard run by Vaught put West Bladen deep into Spartans territory and, after a penalty against Union put the ball on the Spartans’ 8, Lewis carried the ball twice to take it the rest of the way. McLean’s kick was true and the Knights retook the lead, 35-28, with 2:19 left to play.
But the Spartans’ quick-strike offense got another lightning-fast touchdown on the ground and cut the deficit to 35-34. Union attempted to take the lead with a two-point try, but the effort failed.
An onsides kick was recovered by Lewis near midfield, and the Knights finished off the scoring when Vaught broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run. A two-point try failed, but West Bladen was up, 41-34.
The Spartans took over with about a minute to play, but were quickly thwarted when Lesane snared the interception with about 10 seconds to play.
“Turnovers bit us in the hind end, especially when we were going in to score,” said West Bladen coach Russell Dove. “But these kids fought back and I’m as happy as I can be with them.”
Vaught and Lewis combined for 399 yards of offense for the Knights.
“Malcolm was huge for us tonight; because of injuries to our running backs, we really leaned on him hard,” Dove said. “And Colby played with more of a fullback mentality tonight.”