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BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — It was the “union” that helped Southeastern defeat Union 62-21 in the season opener.
The Fire offensive line helped clear the way for three different backs to rush for 100 yards.
Southeastern averaged 7.7 yards per carry, rushing 63 times for 483 yards and 7 touchdowns. Total, the Fire gained 679 yards on 90 plays.
“Our up-tempo offense really kept Union off balance and kept the pressure on them,” said coach Keith Barefield. “To have the ability to play three guys who were affective throughout the game was big. Our offensive line played extremely well.”
On the first possession of the season, the Fire went 80 yards on 10 plays, getting a 16-yard touchdown run from Jarrell Reynolds. The fifth-year senior back finished the day with 170 yards on 13 carries, and picked up a 60-yard TD in the third quarter as well.
“We came together as a unit and were aggressive off the ball,” said senior guard Augie Schmidt. “By being aggressive up front, you give those running backs a little bit of space, and they make us look good.”
Southeastern added a one-yard touchdown run from Jonathan Pearce with 6:07 left in the first quarter. However, the Bulldogs were able to answer on their next play from scrimmage, connecting on a 75-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead in half.
Senior Caleb Winter hit the first of his two field goals on the first play of the second quarter, splitting the uprights from 25 yards out to give the Fire a 17-7 advantage. Again, the Bulldogs answered with a touchdown to get back within three, but Railond Garrett’s first of two touchdown runs stretched the lead back to 10 (24-14) with 4:19 until halftime.
Tyrell Williams capped off an 11-play, 68-yard drive with a two-yard TD run, but Union scored on the final play of the half on a QB sneak to make it a 31-21 game at the end of 30 minutes.
Williams totaled 105 yards on 15 carries.
The defense did its part, pitching a shutout in the second half, and holding the Bulldogs to 149 yards and 11 first downs in the second 30 minutes.
“We had to stop doing things to hurt ourselves,” said Barefield of the defensive adjustments. “Our big point at halftime was our mistakes were helping them and giving them good field position. If we cut down on our mistakes and penalties, we’ll have a chance to be successful.”
Pearce found Marque Northington for a 25-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the second half, and the Fire would never look back. Winter added a 41-yard field goal, and the Fire led 48-21 heading to the fourth.
Kamario Bell picked up a 12-yard touchdown run with 9:20 to play, and finished with 15 carries for 100 yards.
Pearce was 13-of-24 passing for 196 yards and a score. His long pass of the day was a 33-yard completion to true freshman Bryce Miller. Northington was the top target with 92 yards on four catches. He also rushed four times for 21 yards.
The Fire will host Bethel University (Tenn.) on September 2 at 7 p.m. for their home opener.