LA PORTE CITY – The Union High School football team scored on the two longest plays of the game.
But North Fayette Valley’s balanced offense and stingy defense was too much for the Knights to overcome, and the Tigerhawks broke open a close game with a big second half en route to a 39-14 win over Union on Friday night.
“I was really encouraged with the improvement we made,” North Fayette Valley coach Justin Heins said. “We were able to move the ball consistently and we were able to control the line of scrimmage. It was a good, all-around effort by our team.”
North Fayette Valley bounced back from a tough season-opening loss to Class 3A Waverly-Shell Rock while the Knights fell to 0-2.
“It seems like we are doing just enough to stay in a game, but then we have a mental lapse that blows up in our face,” Union coach Jared Pospisil said. “We are trying to find a way to close those gaps. We need to keep working hard in practice and keep improving. We need to come back and keep fighting.”
The Tigerhawks piled up nearly 500 yards in total offense while holding the Knights to just 69 total yards.
Union struck first when Jacob Carey darted in front of a pass, picked it off and raced 65 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
The Tigerhawks responded with a punishing, 14-play, 79-yard drive, all on the ground. Liam McIntyre scored on a five-yard run and Israel Hernandez hit the extra point to give them a lead they did not relinquish.
North Fayette Valley scored right before the half when quarterback Kole Johnson connected with Zach Robrock on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
Union came out strong in the second half and had the Tigerhawks buried deep in their own territory early in the third quarter.
Faced with third-and-23 at its own 7, Kole Johnson hit Tanner Johnson on a pinpoint 53-yard pass down the sideline. Trey Darnall capped the long march with an 11-yard scoring run for North Fayette Valley.
“My teammates and my coaches really picked me up after that pick-six, and I just tried to come back strong,” Kole Johnson said. “On that third-and-long play, the coaches called for a fade pass – I knew he would be open and I just let it fly. That really changed the game after that long pass. We took over after that.”
North Fayette Valley built a 33-6 lead before Union’s Jordan Carey broke loose late in the game on a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Tigerhawks rushed for a whopping 336 yards with Darnall gaining 107 yards and McIntyre adding 83. Kole Johnson passed for 141 yards and rushed for another 47.
North Fayette Valley’s defense didn’t allow any points.
“Our defense essentially pitched a shutout,” Heins said. “We didn’t play very well against Waverly and I was happy with the way they responded. They really got after them tonight.”
N. Fay. Valley 39, Union 14
N. Fay. Valley 0 13 6 20 — 39
Union 6 0 0 8 — 14
Un – Jacob Carey 65 interception return (kick blocked)
NFV – Liam McIntyre 5 run (Israel Hernandez kick)
NFV – Zach Robrock 25 pass from Kole Johnson (run failed)
NFV – Trey Darnall 10 run (kick failed)
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NFV – Johnson 2 run (Hernandez kick)
NFV – Joel Grimes 44 run (Hernandez kick)
Un – Jordan Carey 94 kickoff return (Marc Mahood pass from Grant Behrens)
NFV – Chase Lensing 4 run (pass failed)
First downs 19 6
Rushes-yards 57-336 24-(-14)
Passing yards 141 83
Comp-att-int 6-13-1 5-9-0
Punts-avg. 3-27.0 6-30.2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-0
Penalties-yards 6-45 6-50
NORTH FAYETTE VALLEY – Darnall 19-107, McIntyre 20-83, Kole Johnson 8-47, Grimes 2-46, Lensing 3-42.
UNION – Brayden Grosse 13-35, Seth Wirtz 4-7.
NORTH FAYETTE VALLEY – Kole Johnson 6-13-1, 141 yards.
UNION – Behrens 5-6-0, 83 yards.
NORTH FAYETTE VALLEY – Tanner Johnson 3-103, Robrock 1-25, Meyer 1-13.
UNION – Grosse 3-43, Jordan Carey 2-40.