By Anthony Rhoads
So close yet so far.
Henry County came close to winning for the first time in 18 games but fell short 15-14 Friday night to county rival Union Grove.
With the score 15-14, Henry County (0-1) drove nearly 70 yards in the final minutes of the contest. The Warhawks (1-1) managed to get to the Union Grove 8-yard line but fumbled. Union Grove's Justin Pair recovered the loose ball with 1:32 remaining in the game and the Wolverines ran out the clock to take the victory.
"Our kids worked so hard," Union Grove head coach Scott Mason said. "It's nothing but guts. I tell you what, Henry County has a good ball club; they played hard and they're definitely going to win some games this year."
Union Grove trailed 14-7 with about six minutes to go when back-up quarterback Travis Burks threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tim Waters. The extra point was no good but Henry County was charged with a roughing the kicker penalty.
The Wolverines went for the 2-point conversion and Burks scampered in untouched to put the Wolverines up 15-14.
"It was the turning point for us," Mason said. "I will never ever go for the tie. I asked the kids what they wanted to do and they told me what I wanted to hear; they wanted to win. They had it in their eye."
Union Grove took a 7-0 lead with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Bradley Kessler scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 33-yard drive.
The scoring drive was started when Union Grove's Greg Berkes recovered a Henry County fumble. Three plays later, Kessler threw a pass to Zac Blount, who juggled the ball but managed to hang onto the ball for a 30-yard reception which put the Wolverines at the 3-yard line.
Later in the quarter, Henry County's Carl Gissendaner hauled in the first of his two first-half interceptions and the Warhawks were able to capitalize on the opportunity.
After the turnover, Henry County completed an eight-play drive with a touchdown. Herman Mains scored on a 14-yard run with 2:56 remaining in the second quarter. Mains scored again on a 1-yard run at the 6:29 mark of the third quarter to give Henry County a 14-7 lead. Mains gained 88 yards on 10 carries.
On the kickoff after Main's second TD, Union Grove's Torre Newsome ran 89 yards for a touchdown but the play was called back on a holding penalty.
Newsome led the Wolverines in rushing with about 65 yards on 12 carries.
Henry County senior quarterback Michael Rozier completed 10-of-25 passes for 120 yards in the contest. His favorite target was Greg Lindsey, who caught five passes for 61 yards.
"They played a heckuva ball game," Henry County head coach Mike Rozier said. "I couldn't ask for anything more. You've got to give Union Grove credit; they know how to win and they know how to finish it out. Our guys played their hearts out; it was a good, old-fashioned ball game. The big thing for us to come back from this."
Up next: Henry County gets back into action next Saturday at Eagle's Landing.
Union Grove, which fell 28-7 last week to Jackson, will play host to Tri-Cities next Friday.