by Todd Lamberth
It didn’t come easy, but Union City locked up their fourth state championship since 2009 on Friday with a 27-21 win over Tyner Academy.
The Tornadoes led for all but four minutes of game time, Tyner Academy was able to force overtime in the 2A state championship game at Tennessee Tech.
Union City took the opening kickoff and wasted no time on offense. The Tornadoes used nine rushes to march 62 yards down the field and score the opening touchdown on a three-yard Trey Jones run.
The Rams of Tyner were forced to punt on their first drive and pinned Union City at their own six-yard line. From there, the Tornadoes started what would be a 14-play drive that was capped off by an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braxton Waddell to give Union City a 14-0 lead.
Tyner Academy didn’t go away, however. The Rams used a run of 31 yards by Jeremy Elston to get them in to Union City territory. Two plays later, Elston took it 33 yards for the score. The extra point would be blocked to put the score at 14-6, where it would remain at the half.
Tyner again had to punt after their opening drive of the second half, this time pinning the Tornadoes at their own five.
Union City would embark on a 25-play drive from there, taking over 13 minutes of game time off the clock. The Rams defense held strong once the Tornadoes got inside the Tyner ten, stuffing Waddell at the three-yard-line on a fourth down attempt.
After both teams had drives stall out, Tyner took over at their own 34, needing eight points with a little over a minute remaining.
Tyner senior quarterback Jaylen Bowens found his rhythm in the passing game on the final drive. Bowens was 3-4 passing before finding Jeremiah Batiste for a 33-yard touchdown to bring the Rams within two. The Rams went to the air again on their two-point try as Bowens scrambled around before throwing one up for Batiste again, who came down with it to tie things up with 14 seconds remaining.
Union City took the ball first in overtime, needing just two runs by Jones for a score and a 21-14 lead. Tyner came back with three plays as Bowens found Elston to tie things back up.
In the second overtime period, Bowens tried to throw another one to the end zone but Andrew Easley picked it off. One play later, Waddell took it in to give the Tornadoes their fourth state title.
Jones took home offensive MVP honors for the Tornadoes with his 44 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
After not making a title game in 30 years as a program, Union City has now won four state championships in eight years.