It’s a story fans of the Union Knights football team are accustomed to seeing. The offense, led by the quarterback wearing the number two jersey, moves his team up and down the field with a precision passing game. With receivers breaking tackles and the defense making key fourth down stops, the team races out to a big lead early and finishes strong to claim the victory.
A familiar looking script, indeed. Unfortunately for the Union faithful, it was the opposing team, the Cougars of Cascade, that borrowed heavily from the Knights’ formula for success to claim a 30-21 win, and in the process, spoil Union’s Homecoming celebration.
The Knights took the opening kickoff and promptly drove the length of the field. The drive stalled inside the Cascade five yard line, though, and the home team was turned away on fourth and goal when a fake field goal attempt failed.
Starting from deep in its own territory, the Cascade offense made a strong opening statement, putting together a 97 yard drive in 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead.
Trailing for the first time this season, the Knights struggled to move the ball for much of the first half, punting the ball back to the Cougars on their next three possessions.
The Cougars, meanwhile, played with a sense of growing confidence, adding a field goal and a 38 yard touchdown pass on their next two offesnsive series. With seven minutes left in the first half, Union found itself in a deep hole, trailing 17-0.
Three minutes later, it was the Knights’ defense that gave the team a spark, forcing a shanked punt that gave Union the ball on the Cascade 31 yard line. Following a five yard penalty against Union, quarterback Jay Scheel called his own number and, after picking his way through the center of the Cascade defense, found a lane to the outside and won the race to the end zone to make it a 17-7 score.
The Union defense showed it could score quickly too, when less than a minute later, Kolten Bader intercepted a Cougar pass and returned it for a touchdown. Suddenly, it was 17-14.
The Knights featured running back Jacob Holschlag on their first drive of the second half, as the Union offense pounded the ball on the ground. When Holschlag crossed the goal line on a two yard run, the Knights had their first lead, 21-17.
The lead would be short-lived, however. An 80 yard drive by the Cascade offense took just a minute and a half off the game clock and gave the Cougars a 23-21 lead.
From there, the combination of untimely penalties and the Cascade defense stymied the Union offense. A 24 yard Cougar touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter accounted for the final score of the game.
Fortunately for the Knights, the loss to a District 4 opponent did not damage their place in the District 3 standings. Union will travel to top-ranked Waukon on Friday for a game that will that will certainly enhance the winner’s hopes for a district championship.