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Twisters defensive without Kennedy

Twisters defensive without Kennedy
Twisters defensive without Kennedy

Union City’s Trey Maddox pushes forward against Bruceton’s Chandler Jordan during the Twisters’ 41-7 victory Friday evening.
Union City’s defense turned in an effort that no doubt will make defensive coordinator Wes Kennedy proud.
The Twisters — without Kennedy, who is recovering from a chemical accident that left him at The Med in Memphis with first- and second-degree burns — held Region 7-1A foe Bruceton to just 120 yards offensively in a 41-7 triumph Friday evening.
“I think the defense played well and they adjusted to what we’ve done differently this week in practice,” UC head coach Darren Bowling said after the game. “Obviously, no one can run our defense like Coach Kennedy does, but we’re having to make do without him and I was impressed by several of our players.
“I’m extremely happy with the play of Ronnie Fair on the line and Josh Nicks and Chase (Bowling) coming in on the edges, and I thought Stevie Gossett and Brandon Crume did a fine job from their posts, too.”
Indeed, it was a night for the UC defense to be lauded by both their coach and the large crowd of Purple Pack fans who made the trip to Carroll County.
In all, the Twisters’ defensive unit recorded nine sacks of Tiger quarterback Hayden Howell with Nicks, Gossett and Crume accounting for two of those sacks each.
Furthermore, Fair, Trey Maddox and Bowling each made one takedown of the Bruceton quarterback.
And, as a direct result, Union City kept Bruceton well in check on the ground with the Carroll Countians totaling minus-47 rushing yards on 27 carries.
Still, sacks weren’t the only defensive highlights, with Peter Wilkes picking off a Howell aerial in the fourth quarter.
Wilkes was also consistent as he tied for the team-high tackle total of six during the victory with Jacob Worley and Rance Barnes.
Offensively, after employing a nickel-and-dime philosophy during Week 5’s 19-6 victory over Obion Central, UC relied heavily on the big play with five of its six touchdowns coming on plays of 30 yards or more.
Quarterback Colton Speed turned in another outstanding night with 202 yards on 14 carries and three rushing touchdowns.
Speed was also productive in the pocket as he found Nicks for a 32-yard TD pass and Brandon Easley for a 77-yard aerial score.
Yet, there were a couple concerns against the Tigers that Union City (5-1) will need to work out.
The Twisters fumbled the football six times and lost four of those drops, and the locals were also whistled for nine penalties that spanned 95 yards.
“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Bowling said. “We’re still a work in progress and we’re not as crisp or as disciplined as I’d like for us to be in some areas.
“Still, the heart is there and, right now, we’re doing a good job of executing when we need to and taking care of business.”
On Friday, that business involved improving to 3-0 in region play against the winless Tigers, but there was a bump in the road early on.
After recovering a fumble on UC’s opening drive, Bruceton took its only lead of the evening with Howell able to find Chandler Jordan on a screen pass that turned into a touchdown 44 yards later.
The Twisters showed they, too, had the capability to make a big gain just two plays later with Nicks sprinting 66 yards to paydirt. Wilkes booted the extra point through the uprights to tie the game at 7-all with 7:39 remaining in the first.
Through the remainder of the first quarter and the start of the second, UC was on the brink of scoring as they marched 66 yards on 13 plays — all of which were rushes — before they were ultimately held on a 4th-and-goal at the Tigers’ 1.
However, the failed drive may have set up the Twisters’ next two touchdowns.
On the next UC series, Maddox powered up the middle for four yards and all looked the same within the locals’ offensive game plan.
But with the Tiger defense inching forward more with each play, Speed pulled the trigger to find an unattended Easley for what turned out to be a 32-yard touchdown connection.
Later in the second, Bruceton had still not learned its lesson as Nicks was left unmanned and he took a catch 77 yards to paydirt.
The final three touchdowns for Union City all belonged to Speed with the quarterback slicing his way through the Tiger defense with relative ease.
Speed’s first carry to paydirt spanned 39 yards and it came with 35 seconds remaining in the first half. Later, in the third quarter, the UC signal caller banged his way in from eight yards out and he sprinted 61 yards to the endzone.
The Twisters will look to become the unofficial Obion County champions — and more importantly get another region win — this week as they travel to South Fulton, while Bruceton hosts Lake County.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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