BLAIRSVILLE — Union County came into Friday night’s monster Region 8-2A showdown with Elbert County sporting the state’s No. 1 offense. But it was the Panthers defense that proved to be the difference.
Union County forced four fourth quarter turnovers and the Panthers scored the final 28 points in an impressive 35-14 victory over the Blue Devils in a battle of region unbeatens.
After the two defenses stifled early drives, Elbert County (3-3, 2-1 Region 8-2A) jumped out to a 7-0 lead with just 30 seconds left in the first quarter on an 80-yard drive.
The Blue Devils then forced the first Pierson Allison interception of the season to spark another potential drive. But the Panthers forced a punt and Allison and the offense finally got untracked as he connected with Cayden Rich for a 19-yard TD pass to tie the game.
It went to the half tied at 7 and the two powerhouse offenses came out strong in the third quarter. Elbert scored on its opening drive and the Panthers answered with an 80-yard drive in just five plays, capped by a 21-yard scoring run from Jonah Daniel.
It was all Union County from there. The Panthers forced three consecutive Elbert County fumbles and one interception, all in the final 12 minutes.
Allison found Sawyer Drake on a 28-yard TD pass and then connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Mason McCombs. He added another
24-yard TD strike to Drake following a Clayton Lester interception.
The defense got the final word as they stopped the Blue Devils on downs in the final minute.
Both teams are off next week. Union County will travel to Banks County while the Blue Devils will head to Rabun County in two weeks to resume region play.