BIG STONE GAP — In the 50 years since the inception of the Union peanut football league, no team has had an 8-0 season. The Chargers changed all that last night as they defeated the Packers 24-16.
Running back Cayden Phillips got everything started in the first quarter with a 20-yard touchdown blast. The extra point was good giving the Chargers an 8-0 lead.
“This means a lot,” an emotional Phillips said after the game. “Especially because it’s my last year. It’s been great being a Charger. I can’t wait to be a Bear.”
The Packers had an answer as Braxton Bunch carried multiple times on the next drive resulting in a 12-yard touchdown run. With the point after attempt nailed, the score was tied.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bunch knocked the ball loose and recovered on their own 25-yard line. The Packers could not convert and turned the ball over on downs.
The Chargers did not have much luck on their next drive as they went three and out with a punt.
The Packers started with 26.2 seconds in the half on the Chargers’ 48-yard line. Kam Bostic would score from 26 yards out. The extra point is good and Chargers were down at the half for the first time this season as the Packers led 16-8.
The second half was all Chargers. Quarterback Austin Sykes was the picture of composure under center. On their first drive, Phillips scored from 25-yards out. But the score was called back due to a penalty. On the next play, Phillips scored from 35-yards out. The extra point was good for a tie score of 16:16. The game was tied going into the third.
“We played as a team. We were down at halftime and we battled back. That’s what true champions do. I’m super proud of us,” Sykes said.
The Packers turned the ball over on downs on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Chargers ran the ball and ran time off the clock as Phillips bashed six yards into the end zone. The extra point was good and the ensuing kickoff went into the end zone for a touch back. The Packers started on their own 20 with just over 2:30 to play in the game.
Their drive stalled at midfield. The Packers were unable to convert on a fourth down as time ran out.
Head coach Chad Bishop was all smiles after the game.
“Our league is really competitive and it is really hard to beat any of these teams three times,” Bishop said. “We did that twice this year. Our kids stepped up and played their hearts out. The Packers are well-coached and a great group of kids. We knew coming in would be tough.
Bishop’s Charger 12-year-olds have a record of 25 wins and three losses over four seasons of football.
“The 12-year-olds on my team and this entire league are very talented. The future looks very bright for the Union Bears.”