WOODSFIELD - The Bruce Stiles era at Union Local got off to an impressive start Friday as Union Local came here and left with a hard-fought, 14-13, victory against Monroe Central.
The Jets had won one game in their last 30, so getting off to a good start for 2013 was paramount for Stiles, his staff and their players.
MONROE CENTRAL’S Levi Brown races for a 92-yard touchdown during Friday’s game in Woodsfield. The Jets rallied for a 14-13 victory.
UNION LOCAL’S Travis James looks to pass as Monroe Central’s Cordell Gauding chases during Friday’s game in Woodsfield.
Led by the hard-charging Eric Dunfee's 151 rushing yards, the Jets' larger offensive front was able to slowly wear down the Seminoles' defensive line, providing greater running lanes for Dunfee to rush through.
"This is a great first step for our program," Stiles said. "This is a great way to get toward moving to where we want to be.
"Monroe Central is a quality program and very fundamentally sound and to come in here and get a win is huge."
Dunfee used his 6-foot,180-pound frame to lower the shoulder and eek out a few more yards after contact each time he touched the ball.
Going without a huddle, Stiles and his staff wanted to keep the pace of the game on the quick side.
"That was our objective coming in," Stiles said. "We knew they were thin numbers-wise and we wanted to keep the tempo up and try to wear them down."
Monroe, despite twice having the lead and receiving a solid effort from junior Levi Brown offensively, never seemed "with it" Friday.
It was opening night in front of a large crowd in Woodsfield but the home team's intensity was noticeably lacking.
"Obviously, we're upset that we lost, but it was the first game of the year and we weren't playing with any intensity or spirit," a disappointed Monroe coach Jay Circosta lamented. "It was discouraging."
Making matters worse, the 'Noles had to fight through two additional problem areas: cramps and mental mistakes.
Monroe was putting together a nice drive on its first series before a penalty negated the march, forcing the Seminoles to punt. It wasn't the only time a Monroe drive would be stalled by a mental mistake.
Later in the game, seemingly every Monroe starter had cramps at one point or another.
Brown, who finished with 108 rushing yards while adding 40 receiving yards and a score, got the 'Noles on the board when he ripped off a 92-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter.
UL and Dunfee answered as the Jets' senior busted a few tackles en route to the end zone, reaching from 26 yards out to knot the score.
The game remained knotted at 7-7 until the third quarter.
It started when Brown intercepted a Travis James' pass. Brown likely would have taken it to the house, but an inadvertant whistle blew the play dead early.
Three players later, Zach Jorris hit Brown on a quick hitter on the perimeter with the junior ripping through two Jets' tacklers and diving into the end zone from 32 yards out.
However, the ensuing point-after kick was blocked.
Late in the fourth, James reached the end zone from nine yards out, tying the score again. Dunfee's PAT kick was good, giving the Jets the lead.
With 8:33 to play, Monroe had plenty of time to try and regain the lead.
However, a staunch Jets' defense forced a three-and-out Dunfee and company proceeded to milk more than six minutes off the clock and sealing the victory.
Curtis Nixon had 50 rushing yards for Monroe to back Brown while Jorris was 5 of 12 for 64 yards.
James passed for 43 yards for the Jets, adding 21 yards on the ground.
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