Union Parish 34, Bastrop 22
Union Parish won the battle of wills, and thus the game.
Dictating the tempo offensively and never allowing Bastrop's offense to find its rhythm, the Farmers spoiled the Rams' homecoming with a 34-22 victory Friday night.
As expected, Union (5-1) stuck to its offensive tendencies by keeping the ball on the ground and controlling the clock. Though Bastrop's defense battled gamely, the Farmers averaged nearly six yards per carry while rolling up 274 yards on 51 attempts. Desmond Turner did most of the damage, turning in a yeoman-like effort with 31 carries for 162 yards.
Receiving the opening kickoff, the Rams (2-4) began the game with an empty possession after Travion Caldwell blew up a first down screen pass for a loss of five.
Christian Doaty's 45-yard punt rolled dead at the 28 and the Farmers went right to work.
Without facing third down, the U put together a seven-play drive. Quarterback Jamarius Williams kept for 27 yards to push the visitors into Bastrop territory at the 25. Desmond Turner took over from there, carrying for five and 17 yards to set up his own 3-yard TD stroll. Chase Spatafora's PAT put the Farmers up 7-0 just under four minutes into the game.
Following an exchange of three-play series, Bastrop began its third possession from its own 26.
A first down swing pass to Jamari Payne netted 26 yards to the U 45, giving the Rams their first first down of the evening.
Six plays later, on second-and-six from the 17, Payne took a pass from Doaty in the left flat and split two defenders for the touchdown. Bastrop's try for 2 failed and Union retained a 7-6 lead at 2:46 in the opening quarter.
Union came right back with a 10-play, 55-yard drive.
Desmond Turner's 18-yard burst on third-and-four gave the Farmers a fresh set of downs at the Bastrop 31.
Shortly afterwards, Desmond Turner converted a fourth-and-two with a three-yard pickup to the 7.
Two plays later, Williams circled around the right edge and into the end zone from five yards out, extending the Farmers' lead to 14-6 with 9:20 remaining in the half.
Starting from its own 35 after the ensuing kickoff, the Rams eventually faced first-and-goal from the 7. On third down, Doaty's 8-yard TD run was negated by the Rams' third holding penalty of the game and second of the drive.
The infraction would prove costly as Monquiarious Caldwell's interception in the end zone on third-and-goal from the 10 ended the threat.
Union was eventually forced to punt from midfield, but Spatafora's 44-yard punt backed the Rams up to the 6.
Bastrop lost one yard on three plays and the Farmers regained possession at their own 43 after the punt.
Converting a third-and-10 from the Bastrop 40, Dezian Wilson escaped a tackle in the backfield for 10 yards and a first down at the 30.
Three plays later, the Farmers stared at fourth-and-four. Shakeem Tisdale's 5-yard reception was good for another first down at the 19 with time winding down.
After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Williams found De'andre Elliot over the middle for the touchdown with just 8 seconds showing on the clock. Union came up empty on the 2-point conversion, but carried a 20-6 advantage into the locker room.
Picking up where they left off, the Farmers struck another big blow to open the second half.
Seth Gatson returned the second half kickoff 39 yards to give the Farmers good field position at the Bastrop 41.
Union patiently and methodically advanced up the field on 10 running plays behind the offensive wall of Jonah Traylor, Devonte Ford, Tyler Holloway, Dustin Sellers and Trent Mason.
Desmond Turner's 9-yard run, which moved the sticks on fourth-and-four, was the longest play of the series.
Shamar Turner capped the five-minute, 54-second drive by crashing in from six yards out, putting the Farmers in command 27-6.
Bastrop then embarked on a 10-play, 74-yard drive.
Payne caught two passes for 34 yards and Travion Burks carried for 20 yards as the Rams overcame their fourth holding penalty of the game. Jerry Powell's 1-yard run and Doaty's 2-point pass to Payne reduced the deficit to 27-14 with 3:32 to play in the third frame.
Elliot returned the kickoff 51 yards all the way to the 39, but the Rams made a defensive stop when Kintavius Cash and a host of teammates shut down a fourth-and-four running play.
Taking over on downs at the 33, the Rams' momentum was short-lived as De'Angelo Gatson's third down sack brought on the punting unit.
Ten running plays and a holding penalty later, Williams sprinted around the right edge for a 20-yard TD jaunt on fourth-and-four, widening the spread to 34-14 with 7:17 to go.
Bastrop responded with a seven-play, 54-yard drive, culminating with Antwone Green's 17-yard run. Doaty passed to Isaiah Graham for the deuce, bringing the Rams within 34-22 with 5:36 to play.
Kentreylus Hill-Pates recovered the inevitable onside kick at the Union 49, but defensive end Quondarious Qualls picked off a fourth down pass to dash any hopes of a miraculous Bastrop comeback.
Bastrop opens District 2-4A play next week in Winnsboro against Franklin Parish.
Notes: Bastrop lost its first homecoming game since 1996. … This was the first game all season in which the Rams never held the lead. … Union was 4-for-5 on fourth down conversions. … Sophomore Desmond Turner eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this season. His season low was a 92-yard effort in a 22-8 Week 3 victory over Oak Grove. … Payne went over 100 yards receiving for the third straight game. Friday night's seven-catch, 129-yard effort leaves the senior with 98 career receptions.