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Union County rides four-game winning streak into playoff rematch with Paducah Tilghman

The Gleaner (Henderson, KY) logo The Gleaner (Henderson, KY) 11/26/2020 Kevin Patton, Henderson Gleaner
a baseball player holding a bat: Union County's Corithian Seales-Portee (9) celebrates with teammate Ben Shreve (1) in the end zone as the Union County Braves host the Trigg County Wildcats at Morganfield’s Baker Field Friday evening, October 23, 2020. © MIKE LAWRENCE / THE GLEANER Union County's Corithian Seales-Portee (9) celebrates with teammate Ben Shreve (1) in the end zone as the Union County Braves host the Trigg County Wildcats at Morganfield’s Baker Field Friday evening, October 23, 2020.

MORGANFIELD, Ky. – Coming off an unlikely six-touchdown performance from sophomore Kanye Pollard, Union County hosts Paducah Tilghman Friday seeking its first appearance in the regional title game since 2008.

The 4-4 Braves won their 3-A playoff opener over Webster County 54-26 to earn a showdown with Tilghman (4-3), which Union County beat 49-7 on Oct. 16 in Morganfield during the regular season.

Pollard, who had scored only one touchdown in Union County’s first seven games, took on a greater role on offense in the Webster County win after a trio of players were sidelined because of COVID-related issues.

After having just two carries for 18 yards for the rest of the season, Pollard had 10 carries for 218 yards and three touchdowns against the Trojans. He also had three catches – all three of the Braves’ pass completions – for 79 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, Pollard has eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, which accounted for the Braves’ only score in a 14-7 loss at Greenwood on Oct. 2.

To round out last week's performance, Pollard also returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown.

“He’s the most athletic kid we have on the team,” Union County coach Derek Johns said. Pollard, who starts at cornerback on defense, has had limited offensive opportunities because he is playing behind several upperclassmen

“We just haven’t given him a chance. I’m sure everybody is wondering ‘What’s Coach Johns thinking?’” he said. “We had some players out last week for various reasons. Kanye stepped up and played huge for us last week. Going into the game, we knew we had to have him.”

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The Braves will back at full strength Friday against Tilghman, a team it dominated by capitalizing on five turnovers in the regular-season win.

When the Braves watched film from the teams’ first meeting, Johns reminded them the playoff rematch would likely be different. “I told them, ‘I promise you it’s not going to be like this Friday night.’ They understand, it’s Paducah Tilghman.”

The Blue Tornado owns a 34-4 advantage in the series between the long-time district rivals. The October win was Union County’s first in the series since 2009. Tilghman has won the only two postseason meetings between the programs including last year’s game 36-7 in the second round of the 3-A playoffs.

“We were 0-4 going into the first game with Tilghman this year. The games we had were close, but we had been having own problems with turnovers,” Johns said. “Against them, we finally forced turnovers and capitalized on them.”

The win over Tilghman started a four-game game winning streak for the Braves. Because of COVID-related issues, the Blue Tornado has played only game since then, which was last week’s 53-21 win over Trigg County in the first round of the playoffs.

Union County last won a second-round playoff game in 2008 when it beat Butler County 39-13 and won the region title the following week over Edmonson County before falling at Louisville Central in the state semifinals.

This article originally appeared on Henderson Gleaner: Union County rides four-game winning streak into playoff rematch with Paducah Tilghman

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