The Union Knights broke open a scoreless game with a 27-point second quarter against the Columbus Sailors Friday night, clinching a playoff spot and the three seed in their district due to tiebreaker criteria.
All three facets for Union offense, defense, and special teams excelled in a must-win game. The offense eclipsed the 300-yard mark while the defense held the Sailors to 125 yards, totaling eight tackles for a loss in the process. The Knights' punt return team was impressive as well, totaling 66 yards on four returns.
Overall, it was a game Head Coach Joe Hadachek and the Knights (5-4, 3-3) needed to have. Not that it was only a must-win with their playoff fate on the line, but the Knights were in the midst of a four-game losing streak; a losing streak that had two 35-point losses.
A 42-point win can fix things awfully quick.
"We came together this game," said Coach Hadachek. "Our offense now has a definite two-running back attack, our defense gang tackled, and our special teams executed their assignments very well."
The game's first twelve minutes saw no scoring by either team, but the remaining 36 minutes featured a relentless effort by the Knights.
Union simply overpowered the Sailors (1-8, 1-5) in the second quarter. The Knights went to the ground game for their first three scores. Halfback Jacob Holschlag put Union on the board with a 2-yard TD burst before Jay Scheel broke free for a 15-yard TD scramble. Moments later, Noah Garwood busted loose for a 28-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0.
Scheel finished out the Knights' dominant second quarter with a 29-yard TD pass to tight end Nathan Harting.
Up 27-0 at the half, Union added exclamation points to their already impressive performance. Garwood plunged in from a yard out for his second score of the night in the third and added his third touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard TD carry. He finished with a team-high 87 yards on 14 carries.
Scheel completed an efficient 8-of-12 passes for 123 yards and a score. He added 35 yards on the ground as well. Coming off a three-turnover game against New Hampton, his decision-making was what impressed Coach Hadachek the most.
"I was thrilled with his (Scheel's) decision-making," said Hadachek. "He did a great job of leading our team on offense."
Back in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, Hadachek understands what's at stake for his 2013 squad.
"It's a new season, a new opportunity. Right now, we have a singleness of purpose. We have to go to Cascade and execute."
Cascade (7-2, 5-1) finished as the two seed in District 4 after falling 42-6 to Dyersville Beckman in their season finale. The Cougars defeated the Knights 30-21 at Homecoming.
"Cascade is a good ball club," said Hadachek. "We get a shot at revenge Wednesday night."