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Graham’s defense stymies Union in Region 2D playoffs

Kevin Mays • Nov 18, 2018 at 1:50 AM

BIG STONE GAP — All season long, Graham’s offense has grabbed headlines.

On Saturday, though, it was the G-Men defense that stood out in a 28-7 win over Union in the Region 2D football semifinals at Bullitt Park.

Graham advanced to the regional final next weekend against Southwest District rival Richlands. The Blue Tornado upended top-seeded Ridgeview 31-21 on Saturday.

PLAYING THROUGH MISTAKES

Graham had its chances to put away the game early but couldn’t find the end zone on its first two possessions after getting inside the Union 5-yard line.

The Bears turned the ball over on downs on its first possession and fumbled on their second possession.

Graham fumbled away the ball twice in the third quarter, but Union failed to capitalize on the opportunities when the G-Men defense held strong.

“Our defense did not bend at all,” said Graham coach Tony Palmer said. “We made a mistake, the defense would pick us back up. That’s why football is an ultimate team sport. You’re going to go through things like that and I think we responded well.”

BIG DAY FOR ALLEN

Graham got on the scoreboard on its third possession when quarterback Cameron Allen scored from 1 yard out to cap a six-play, 53-yard drive.

Allen, a threat both to run and throw, relied heavily on his passing against the Bears. The senior completed 16 of 25 throws for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

Allen’s first TD toss came after Graham’s Devin Lester intercepted a pass at the Union 40. On the next play, Allen connected with Joey Dales for a touchdown strike that put the Graham up 14-0 with 2:39 left in the opening quarter.

Union cut Graham’s lead to 14-7 on the opening play of the second quarter when Avery Jenkins broke loose on a 50-yard touchdown run.

The score remained that way until the final minute before the halftime break when Allen’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Shinault put the G-Men up 21-7.

“Graham is an awful good football team and they played really well today,” said Union coach Travis Turner. “I thought our kids played tremendously hard. We probably played as hard today as we’ve played hard all year, especially defensively.

“We just gave up a touchdown there before halftime that kind of separated them a little bit.”

Graham added the final score of the contest on the final play of the third quarter when Jazaire Reed punched it in from 5 yards out.

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