Upperman Holds Off Late Sparta Rally For 28-21 Region Victory; Bronzden Chaffin, Ethan Palk Score Two TDs Each

By Michael Lindsay


The Upperman Bees picked up their third UCR Game of the Week victory this season Friday evening as they held off a second-half rally by White County to win 28-21.

Upperman led 21-0 at the break before the Warriors found the end zone 3 times in the second half.

“We played really well in the first half,” said Upperman head coach Adam Caine. “That fast-paced touchdown we got right before the half was the difference in the ball game. Hats off to their quarterback (Tripp Pinion); he’s a heck of a player. We knew they’d be hanging around and find a way.”

Upperman running back Ethan Palk eclipsed the century mark on the ground as he recorded 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Upperman sophomore quarterback Brondzen Chaffin was 7-9 through the air for 143 yards and a touchdown along with 61 rushing yards and a score on the ground.

“We feel pretty confident calling those plays,” Caine said on Baxter’s efficiency through the air. “If I don’t feel confident in it, I’m not going to call it just to appease fans. I want to run things that I feel like will work. Bronzden is a really good athlete and I’m proud of the way he played.”

White County quarterback Tripp Pinion rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown while going 14-30 through the air for 167 yards and two scores.

“I think we played good defense against what they wanted to do, but he (Pinion) is good enough that they reached deep into their bag of tricks and found some things. That was a heck of a region football game.”

Upperman struck on the game’s first drive as as Branson Turnbow took the opening kick to the Sparta 43-yard line, setting the Bees up for a Chaffin 4-yard touchdown run with 7:42 remaining in the first period to give the Bees a 7-0 lead.

With a 7-0 advantage in hand, Baxter’s defense made two stops inside their own 30-yard line to start the second quarter as they turned Sparta over on downs twice in a 6-minute stretch.

Upperman pushed their lead out to two possession with 6:24 remaining in the second period as Chaffin hit Carmine Phillips down the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown pass to give the Bees a 14-0 lead.

Upperman wasn’t done in the first half as the Bees took over at their own 4-yard line with 2:52 remaining in the second quarter following a Sparta punt.

A balanced attack saw Baxter advance to midfield where a Chaffin pass to Turnbow set the Bees up at the Sparta 17-yard line with 54 seconds left in the first half.

Palk rushed in his first touchdown of the evening from 2 yards out two plays later to give Upperman a 21-0 halftime lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, White County got on the scoreboard with 9:42 remaining in the fourth period as Pinion hit Gage Stephenson on a 21-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-7.

Sparta followed the touchdown with a successful onside kick recovery by Exavior Gamblin to set up a Pinion 20-yard rushing touchdown on fourth down with 6:40 remaining to make the score 21-14 Upperman.

The Bees responded with a 73-yard drive capped off by a Palk 9-yard touchdown run to give the Bees a 28-14 lead with 3:19 left.

White County wouldn’t go away quietly as the Warriors connected on a 9-yard touchdown pass with less than 2 minutes remaining as Pinion found Payton Simpson in the end zone to make the score 28-21.

The Bees’ offense did their job from there as Upperman successfully protected the football the final 1:50 to preserve their 28-21 victory over White County.

Upperman improves to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 4-4A play with a trip to Cumberland County up next.

“The main thing for me is the region play,” Caine said. “We’ve got some tough ones coming up on the schedule. I’m that guy; I’ll enjoy it for a night and be back on the grind. It’s tough in this region.”

White County falls to 2-3 and hits the road to region foe Macon County next week.


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