Alto + Union Grove Put Unbeaten Seasons On The Line In Third-Round Playoff
CLASS 2A DIVISION I
Region III Semifinal
No. 7 Alto Yellowjackets (10-0)
Union Grove Lions (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bulldog Stadium, Carthage
- Alto: Paul Gould
- Union Grove: Roger Adams
- Winner faces winner between Carlisle and Centerville, 2A Division I Region III final
- QB Keenen Johnson, Jr. (62 of 97, 1,391 yards, 17 TDs, 4 INTs; 157 carries, 1,973 yards, 28 TDs)
- RB/DB Jyran Shaw, Sr., 5-7, 150 (87 carries, 945 yards, 14 TDs; 6 catches, 95 yards, TD; 24 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 INTs, 6 PBUs)
- WR L'Darius Pope, Sr., 6-0, 195 (14 catches, 467 yards, 8 TDs; 37 tackles, 2 for loss, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, defensive TD)
- WR David Berryman, Sr. (10 catches, 211 yards, 4 TDs)
- WR/DL JaVie'Ontae Mumphrey, Sr., 6-4, 205 (10 catches, 180 yards, TD; 38 tackles, 22 for loss, 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 5 recoveries, PBU)
- RB/LB Tyarius Hackett, Sr., 5-10, 225 (17 carries, 124 yards, 6 TDs; 10 catches, 182 yards, 2 TDs; 83 tackles, 11 sacks, forced fumble, 3 recoveries, INT, PBU)
- LB Darren Collins, Sr. (99 tackles, 32 for loss, 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
- WR/DB Leroy Lewis, Sr., 6-1, 165 (9 catches, 225 yards, TD; 10 carries, 66 yards, TD; 62 tackles, 13 for loss, sack, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries)
- QB Tristen Thompson, Sr., 5-11, 180 (71 of 120, 1,071 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs; 146 carries, 1,054 yards, 14 TDs)
- RB Shayne Brown, Sr. (97 carries, 764 yards, 8 TDs; 11 catches, 170 yards, TD)
- RB Corey Sturrock, Sr., 5-11, 210 (87 carries, 632 yards, 8 TDs; 2 catches, 24 yards, TD)
- WR/DB Rans Mullins, Sr., 5-11, 165 (15 catches, 370 yards, 4 TDs; 85 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 PBUs, 2 fumble recoveries)
- OL/DL Garrett Bowery, Sr., 6-2, 280 (67 tackles, 28 for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, recovery, blocked kick)
- DL Hunter Gray, Sr. (55 tackles, 17 for loss, 2 sacks, 5 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, PBU)
- DL Hayden Gray, Jr. (69 tackles, 13 for loss, 2 sacks, QB pressure, 2 INTs, 2 PBUs, forced fumble, recovery)
- LB Chase Day, Jr., 5-9, 190 (77 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB pressures, INT)
Just the facts
- Alto is in the postseason for the 11th consecutive season.
- Union Grove earned its first playoff win since 1965 last week.
- Alto is averaging 54.6 points and 495.9 yards per game -- 353 rushing and 142.9 passing.
- The lowest margin of victory for Alto this season was 18 points -- against Crockett (W 46-28) and Carlisle (W 52-34).
- The cumulative record of Alto's opponents this season is 54-53.
- Union Grove is averaging 38.8 points and 409.7 yards per game -- 302.1 rushing and 107.6 passing.
- Union Grove has held five opponents to one touchdown or less this season.
- The cumulative record of Union Grove's opponents this season is 59-47.
Key matchup: Alto rushing attack vs. Union Grove defensive front. Few first-year starters have had as big an impact in East Texas than Alto junior quarterback Keenen Johnson, who's been lighting up opposing defenses all season long. Johnson is closing in on a 2,000-yard rushing season with just 10 games under his belt thus far, while tailback Jyran Shaw is just a few yards shy of 1,000 as the Yellowjackets put their unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten Union Grove this Friday night. Johnson, who's also thrown for for nearly 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns, averages more than 12 yards per carry and is coming off a 300-yard, six-TD performance against Ore City last week. Shaw had a big game as well, finishing the 'Jackets' 65-29 area-round playoff win with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 18 rushing attempts. Few teams have been able to contain Alto's vaunted rushing attack, which comes into this week's contest averaging 353 yards per game. Since roughly 75 percent of Alto's offense comes from its running game, the 'Jackets' rushing prowess has a lot to do with the team's scoring average of 54.6 points per game.
The Alto offense should receive a stern test from a Union Grove defense that's only allowed an average of 14.1 points per game. In last week's area-round win over Lovelady, the Lions' defense held Lovelady's run-heavy attack out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. That performance helped Union Grove survive as its offense only manufactured a pair of touchdowns, the game-winner coming in the final moments of the fourth. A similar defensive showing will be needed if the underdog Lions hope to pull off the big, third-round upset. While most of Alto's offense is rooted in its ground game, the 'Jackets are not void of big plays in the passing game. As mentioned above, Johnson is closing on 1,400 yards passing, and is averaging more than 22 yards per completion. And Alto's leading receiver L'Darius Pope goes for more than 33 yards per catch and is responsible for eight of the team's 14 touchdown receptions. Much of that, however, comes off of Alto's explosive rushing attack, which will need to be contained if Union Grove is to have a chance of advancing.
Don't be surprised if: Union Grove sticks to the ground for as long as it can Friday night. Lions quarterback Tristen Thompson has had a solid season as a passer, but Union Grove cannot afford to get involved in a shootout with Alto. So in order to prevent that from happening, expect the Lions to play ball-control for most of the night. Union Grove has thrived on the ground all season long as the Lions enter this week's playoff matchup averaging more than 300 rushing yards per game. Thompson is the team's leading ground-gainer with 1,054 yards and 14 touchdowns, but UG has a couple of other options that could be useful on Friday. Shayne Brown is second on the team in rushing with more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns, while Corey Sturrock's bruising style of running has helped the senior back tally 632 yards and eight scores. Union Grove averages a shade less than 40 points per game, which any coach in the state would gladly take, but Lions coach Roger Adams knows it will be difficult for his team to keep up with Alto if the game becomes high scoring.