HOMER — It was the kind of game Union County fans are not accustomed to witnessing.
For nearly a decade the Panthers have been among the state’s most explosive offensive programs averaging more than 38 points a game since the 2014 season.
But with a revamping of the offense underway, the defense has had to take front and center. It did just that, holding Banks County to just one big play in a 19-7 win over the Leopards on Friday night in both teams’ Region 8-2A opener.
After a scoreless first quarter, Union County’s Logan Helcher scampered for a long touchdown run for a 6-0 lead after the PAT was blocked for the first lead of the game. It stayed that way until the Panthers cap the opening drive of the second half with a 2-yard scoring run for a 12-0 lead.
TIn the first half the Leopards could not muster much offense against the Panthers defense, which came in yielding just 22 points a game.
But Banks County eventually trimmed the lead to 12-7 early in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard scoring run from Jace Bennett. The Leopards stopped Union County on its next drive but the Panthers defense once produced a stop and the Panthers converted on a 4th-and-9 for a 24-yard touchdown to seal the game with just 1:26 left.
Union County (3-2, 1-0 Region 8-2A) plays host to Elbert County next week. Banks County (1-6, 0-1 Region 8-2A) travels to No. 3 Rabun County next week.