First half offensive struggles didn’t stop Taylorsville from delivering a rout.
Finding some much-needed rhythm on a late scoring drive in the first half, the Tartars kept it going in the final two quarters. A 26-point second-half Friday night helped Taylorsville deliver a crushing blow to Union's season, defeating the Yellow Jackets 50-12 in the first round of the MSHAA Class 2A playoffs.
"The second half was much better than the first," said Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans. "The first half, I thought we were out of our element. I don't know what it was, but we didn't execute early in the game. It was frustrating."
Taylorsville scored on its opening drive, then added a special teams score minutes later to go in front 12-0. It wasn't till the midway point in the second quarter before the Tartars scored again. Two scoring drives in the final six minutes and one from Union sandwiched between, put Taylorsville in front 26-6 at the break.
"At the half, we went in the locker room and talked about what we were doing [wrong]," added Evans. "The second half was a lot better early."
Like in the first-half, Taylorsville used two-quick scores to keep a lead comfortable. After a 34-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jeffery Pittman, followed by a fumble recovery on defense, junior quarterback Ty Keyes connected with senior wide receiver Jabez Griffith from six yards out to give the Tartars a 36-6 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Taylorsville scored twice more on consecutive drives following the two early second-half scores to rout Union, 50-12.
"We just executed better," said Evans of the second half. "We didn't try anything different in the second half. It was just a weird feeling; I don't know. We just played better in the second half."
Pittman led Taylorsville with three offensive touchdowns on rushes of two, two, and 34 yards. He also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter. On the Tartars' third score of the night, Pittman gained all 57 yards of the drive on three carries.
"He's done it all year for those who's watched us play," said Evans. "His and Travis Keyes are work-horses for us. We give them the ball a lot. From one game to next, it could be Travis, or it could be Jeffery. We have two good running backs, so we expect that every week."
Travis Keyes had a touchdown as well. His, though, came on a screen-pass of 33-yards late in the game.
Taylorsville faces a familiar foe on the road in round two. The Tartars travel to Collins next Friday night to battle the Tigers. Taylorsville beat Collins in Week 5 of the regular season, 35-0.
"Everyone knows we played them early in the year," said Evans. "But of course they're a better team than they were then. We can't take anyone for granted. It's at their place, and it will be a dog fight. We've played them in the playoffs three years in a row so that it will be a tough game for us."
Griffith led all Taylorsville receivers with two touchdowns on receptions of 37 and six yards. Junior receiver Tyrese Keyes also had a receiving touchdown of 30 yards.
Two Taylorsville scores happened on fourth and long plays.