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Union may have been on the road Friday night, but the house was not too far away for the Scotties.

The squad rode big plays to surge past Mohawk, 41-20, in a nonconference tilt.

“It was nice to finally be back on the field in a game,” Union’s Braylon Thomas said. “We had our ups and downs, but we came out and won.”

After the Warriors (0-1) cashed in for a touchdown on their opening drive, Thomas answered immediately when he returned the ensuing kick 75 yards to the end zone.

That merely was a precursor of things to come for Union (1-0). After the Scotties forced Mohawk to punt on its next possession, Mike Gunn returned the boot 91 yards for a score. Union had a 14-7 lead before its offense finally touched the ball with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.

“It makes it a lot easier to call plays,” said Union coach Stacy Robinson, who, in his 25th season, is the dean of Lawrence County gridiron coaches. “We’ve got some people that can take it to the house. We have to get better next week, though, that’s for sure.”

When the Scotties’ offense got the ball, it was efficient. Thomas, a Swiss Army Knife-type, threw a touchdown pass and also caught a touchdown pass as The U built a 27-7 lead.

“I just go and play and do what the coaches ask and try to make plays,” he said.

The Warriors’ A.J. Carnuche scored on a short touchdown run midway through the second quarter to trim the deficit to 27-14. Mohawk drove again and seemed poise to score just before halftime, but Jackson Clark stepped in front of a pass and returned it 65 yards to the house for the dagger.

“I was waiting for the push by Mohawk. They drove it right down there and we had to make a big play and we got it done,” Robinson said. “We’ll take the win. I am a bit surprised. Things just kind of started steamrolling for us, but we’ll take it. Mohawk is a good, physical football team. We’re just happy to get away with a win.”

The Scotties scored a touchdown in almost every possible way — punt return, kick return, pick-6, run and pass. They just needed the scoop-and-score.

“And we almost had one of those, so we better be working on that next week,” Robinson said. “It’s a Week Zero game; it’s nothing to get too high or low about. They were keeping score tonight and we’ll chalk it up as a win and we’ll take a win anytime we can get one.”

Mohawk found itself reeling after giving up the special teams and defensive points.

“We gave them 28 points on special teams and turnovers. I am not sure a team has ever won a football game with that stat,” Mohawk coach Tim McCutcheon. “Everyone is the same way with special teams — you don’t have much time to work on it before your first game. We practice it every day and you think you’re ready for live fire on Friday. But, Friday night comes and, sometimes, what you thought isn’t true. We have to look at if it was just a matter of terrible tackling or assignment issues.”

Both teams return to action next week. Union welcomes Ellwood City Lincoln, while Mohawk visits Cornell.

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Joe Sager is a former full-time sports writer for the New Castle News and currently freelances for the News and other Western Pennsylvania newspapers.

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