Traveling to Cascade to play the #1 ranked and only remaining undefeated team in Class 2A, the Union Knights knew they would have to play their best game of the year to get the win. They very nearly pulled it off.
On a balmy night for football, Union started and finished the game strong. After Cascade won the coin toss and elected to kickoff, the Union offense methodically moved the ball down the field. The 12-play, 58 yard drive took more than six and a half minutes, capped by a five yard run by Koby Alpers to give Union an early 7-0 lead.
In what would become a game of prolonged drives, Cascade responded with one of their own, taking more than seven minutes to run 16 plays. The final play of the drive, a four yard touchdown pass from Haris Hoffman to Blake Simon, evened the score. Hoffman would throw another touchdown pass later in the quarter to John Supple. At the half, Cascade had a 14-7 lead.
The Cougars appeared to take control of the game in the third quarter, taking the second half kickoff and grinding out 61 yards over 17 plays. The marathon drive nearly burned the entire third quarter, taking more than ten minutes before Hoffman ran 11 yards for a touchdown. Despite missing the extra point, the Cougars had a seemingly comfortable 20-7 lead.
Things looked even more secure for Cascade after making a fourth down stop at the Cougars’ 11 yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Union defense kept the Cougars pinned deep, however, forcing a Cascade punt Koby Aplers returned to the Cougars’ 28 yard line. Four plays later, Troy Hanus found Jace Glenn all alone in the end zone for a 10 yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, the Knights were within six points.
On their next possession, the Cougars turned the ball over on downs at the Union 46 yard line. Koby Alpers made them pay for the 4th down gamble, finding an opening in the line and dashing 45 yards for the score. Ben Dvorak’s extra point put Union on top, 21-20 with a little over three and a half minutes remaining in the game.
Much to the dismay of Union fans, the Cougars showed why they are undefeated, embarking on one long, final drive of nine plays, the last one a touchdown pass from Hoffman to Logan Otting, for the winning score with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
Despite the loss, Union will advance to the state playoffs for the tenth consecutive season after receiving a wildcard berth into the Class 2A playoffs. Their opponent will be a familiar one, the 8-1 District 3 champions, Aplington-Parkersburg. Sharing the same district in 2014-15, the teams split their two head-to-head match-ups, with the Knights winning 37-0 in 2014 and the Falcons countering with a 45-16 win in 2015.