Friday night's matchup between the Union Knights and the Cascade Cougars paired two of the top quarterbacks not only in 2A, but the entire state of Iowa. Unfortunately for the Knights on Homecoming in La Porte City, it was Cougars quarterback Derek Lievrance who torched Union's secondary.
Lievrance completed 22-of-32 passes for a whopping 344 yards and three touchdowns, often finding gaping holes in the Knights' defensive backfield. He helped guide Cascade (4-1, 2-0 D4) to an early 17-0 lead, and eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter after Union (4-1, 2-0 D3) stormed back to take a brief 21-17 lead.
Two first-half touchdown passes 10 and 38 yards - from Lievrance to Nathan Bergfeld sandwiched a Cougars second quarter field goal which provided their 17-point advantage.
Union quarterback Jay Scheel finally got the Knights' up-tempo offense on the board midway through the second quarter, scoring on a 36-yard scamper. The Knights' second quarter comeback continued on the Cougars' ensuing possession. Kolten Bader picked off Lievrance one of his few mistakes all night and returned it 47 yards for a TD, pulling Union within three, 17-14.
After half, the Knights took their first and only lead of the night in the third quarter. Union halfback Jacob Holschlag plunged across the goal line from two yards out to make it 21-17.
Cascade came right back on their following possession and capped off a third-quarter, 80-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard TD carry by Lievrance. The PAT was wide of the uprights, leaving the door open for the Knights, trailing by two points, 23-21.
The Union offense couldn't capitalize, however.
The score remained 23-21 until the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter. On 4th and 5 deep in Union territory, Lievrance ensured another Knights comeback would not be. The quarterback took advantage of another Union broken coverage, connecting with Kurt Rumm for a 25-yard TD strike.
Down 30-21 and the clock not in their favor, Union needed a magical finish. Friday, it wasn't meant to be. Their following drive stalled at midfield, and the Knights' run at perfection was halted in its tracks, a 30-21 non-district defeat.
Union's aerial attack was limited as Scheel completed just 9-of-20 passes for 114 yards. The dual-threat QB did find space with his legs, running for 151 yards and a TD on 19 carries. Holschlag broke the 100-yard barrier once again as the junior RB churned out 108 yards on 15 carries. Brady Driscol led the Union receivers with four catches for 51 yards.
Despite being outgained in yardage for the first time this season 431-375 the Knights' defense did rack up a season-high six sacks. Bo Bader had an impressive 9 tackles, along with 3 sacks and 1.5 TFL. Holschlag had a team-high 11 tackles and one sack, and Gavin Eastman racked up 10 tackles.
Union won the turnover battle 2-0 but had untimely penalties throughout the night. The Knights were penalized 10 times for 62 yards.
The Knights resume district play this upcoming Friday on the road in Waukon (5-0, 3-0 D3) against the top-ranked Indians. Union won an epic 34-33 regular season game against the Indians last season before being trounced in the second round of the playoffs by Waukon, 21-14. Both games were played in La Porte City.