Sterlington 40, Union Parish 15
Rattling off 33 unanswered points, the Sterlington Panthers celebrated Senior Night with a 40-15 conquest of Union Parish.
Sterlington (9-0, 4-0) travels to Richwood (7-2, 4-0) Thursday at 7 p.m. to determine the District 2-3A champion.
Friday night's highly-anticipated showdown between Union (5-4, 1-3) and Sterlington lived up to its billing for a half.
A facemask on the opening kickoff return allowed the Farmers to start from the Sterlington 49.
Patiently pounding away on the ground, Union opened the scoring with a 2-yard run on the 12th play of the drive. Trent Ginn's extra point bumped the Farmers' lead to 7-0, with just under six minutes remaining in the opening frame.
Following an unsuccessful onside kick, Sterlington turned the ball over on downs at The U 23.
Chase Carter's fumble recovery, two plays later, placed the ball back in the hands of the Panthers' offense at the plus-23.
Requiring just two plays to capitalize, the Panthers tied the game on Carson Clowers' 15-yard run and Landon Green's PAT with 46 ticks left in the first quarter.
Two series later, the Farmers regained the lead on Ginn's 8-yard pass to Jaylon Gaels. Ginn's 13-yard run off of a fake punt set up the touchdown. Union also pulled off a successful fake on the PAT with Lawrence Glosson Jr. running it in to put the visitors up 15-7 with 3:12 to go in the half.
From then on, it was all Sterlington.
After the two teams traded punts, the Panthers covered 68 yards on just two plays. Keeping on the option, Clowers broke around the edge for a 56-yard TD run, bringing the score to 15-13 with 45 seconds to play in the half.
Receiving the second half kickoff, the Panthers quickly established the upper hand.
After a quiet first half (two carries, 12 yards), fullback Austin Dupree shredded the Farmers over the final 24 minutes. Dupree's 8-yard touchdown capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive as the Panthers went ahead 19-15 with 7:01 to play in quarter number three.
Regaining control of the ball after an empty possession by the Farmers, the Panthers marched 68 yards on nine plays. Dupree's 9-yard run stretched the Panthers' advantage to 26-15.
Chris Parker's interception put the Panthers back on offense at The U 32.
Fast forward three plays and Dupree was back in the end zone, scoring from eight yards out as Sterlington's lead grew to 33-15 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
Putting an exclamation point on the Panthers' victory, Dupree concluded the scoring with a 36-yard touchdown scamper midway through the fourth period.
Dupree's second half blitzkrieg included 15 carries for 136 yards and four touchdowns.
Union, meanwhile, was unable to offer anything in resistance. Led by linebacker Dawson Snell (13 tackles) and tackle Chandler Moncrief (10 tackles), the Panthers limited the Farmers to 30 yards of total offense over the final two frames.
The Farmers came into Week 9 averaging 194 yards rushing per game, but could muster only 102 yards on 37 tries (2.7 yards per carry) Friday night. Taking to the air with minimal success, Union completed just 6-of-18 passes for 50 yards. Sterlington's pass rush proved effective. Carter had the only sack, but end Tanner Coley was credited with three quarterback pressures, followed by end Justin Fuller and Moncrief with two apiece.
Trey Rugg, Whit Buffington, Landon Jinks, Brock Risinger, Chandler Jones and Jack Anderson, along with tight ends Tucker Allen and Brooks Rushworth, turned in another brilliant effort up front as the Panthers averaged 8.2 yards per pop en route to piling up 347 yards rushing on 40 attempts.
Clowers rushed for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries. Dupree's 17-carry, 148-yard effort pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season (113 carries, 1,073 yards, 13 TDs in 7 games).
Notes: Clowers rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his career. His previous high was a seven-carry, 94-yard, 2-TD effort in a 49-42 Class 2A quarterfinal victory over Kinder last year. ... Clowers left the game momentarily in the second quarter after being shaken up near the Union sideline. Fullback Luke Denman finished out the series at quarterback. ... Seeing his most extensive action since fracturing an ankle in Week 1, tailback Malik Davis carried eight times for 32 yards. ... Sterlington snapped a four-game losing streak against the Farmers as the two schools met for the first time since 2010. ... Union closes out the regular season at home Friday night vs. Wossman on Friday night. ... Coach Lee Doty's Panthers are among the state's 14 remaining undefeated teams. Jena and Iowa are the only other unbeatens in Class 3A. The other 11 teams with perfect records are West Monroe, Covington, Benton, Lakeshore, De La Salle, University Lab, Notre Dame, Isidore Newman, Amite, Logansport and Cedar Creek. ... Logansport owns the state's longest winning streak (23), followed by Sterlington at 18.