The Union Knights saw their up-and-down season come to an end Wednesday night at Cascade in a 30-27 defeat.
In their first 2013 matchup during the regular season, Union and Cascade went punch for punch and round for round in a game the Cougars eventually won 30-21 after jumping out to a commanding 17-0 lead.
Union vs. Cascade part two looked like part one's sequel.
The Cougars (8-2) took control from the very beginning, stuffing the Knights' ground game while scoring on their first two possessions. Cascade halfback Luke Recker who missed the first matchup against Union got a taste of the end zone on a 15-yard TD run. Cougars' sophomore kicker Elmer Gonzalez then nailed a 29-yard field goal to make it 10-0 after one quarter of play.
With Union's offensive woes continuing, Cascade took full advantage.
Isaac Coohey punched his way across the goal line from two yards out to make it 16-0 midway through the second quarter.
Finally, the Knights' offense came to life. Union didn't let a missed field goal deter them. Their following possession, QB Jay Scheel marched the offense down the field and hit junior WR Brady Driscol for an 18-yard touchdown to end the first half. Down 16-7, the Knights (5-5) were back to within striking distance.
But after the break, Cascade regained control.
QB Derek Lieurance broke the pocket and rumbled in for an 8-yard TD to widen the gap back to 16, 23-7.
Union and Scheel closed the gap to 10 after the senior connected with Driscol again, this time for a 9-yard TD. The Knights' two-point conversion attempt failed, however, keeping it a two-possession game.
What Scheel was doing with his arm, Lieurance was doing with his legs. The Cougars' junior signal-caller scrambled free for a 10-yard TD, making it 30-13 in favor of Cascade.
Trailing by 17 in the fourth quarter, it appeared the game was in the books.
Playing in what would be their last high school game, the Union seniors didn't go down without a fight.
Jay Scheel showed off his big play ability two more times before the clock finally expired. The Iowa Hawkeye-commit returned a punt 81 yards to the house to make it a 10-point game and found Tate Hadachek for a 33-yard TD with 1.5 seconds remaining.
The Knights needed a miracle, but their onside kick and strip attempt failed and the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Scheel capped off his impressive four-year career at Union completing 15-of-25 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Driscol (120) and Hadachek (105) both eclipsed 100 yards receiving and hauled in all three receiving touchdowns.
The success through the air didn't translate to the rushing attack. The Knights were held to 56 yards rushing, led by Scheel who totaled 30 yards on 16 carries. Halfbacks Jacob Holschlag (4-18) and Noah Garwood (4-8) found little running room.
Despite another season coming to an end, Union Head Coach Joe Hadachek saw many positives. "Our no-huddle drive to end the first half was huge. It showed the fight we need to have in close games," said Hadachek.
The seventh-year coach went on praising his players' effort until the clock hit zero. "I was very pleased that our team did not quit and took the game to the final second. Unfortunately, sometimes the clock runs out."
A 5-5 record isn't what this senior class will be remembered for. They, like the two graduating classes before them, will be remembered as 2011 3A State Champions. Nobody can take that away from them.
"Our seniors were able to taste a great deal of success over the past four seasons," said Hadachek. "But I'm more proud of the contributions they made off the field and will make after graduation."