Knights can't complete comeback at Hampton-Dumont, fall 20-14

By Cheyne Reiter

The Union Knights came up short on a goal-to-go situation Friday night at Hampton-Dumont, dropping their third straight game overall, 20-14.

The Knights, 4-3 (2-2 D3), couldn't stop the Bulldogs' bruising ground attack which featured the wishbone offense. H-D churned out 336 yards of total offense, 282 coming on the ground.

Hampton-Dumont jumped on Union early and surprised the Knights' defense with the games' first TD coming through the air. Cole Miller -- who completed just 2-of-15 throws all night -- connected with Parker Claypool for a 44-yard TD strike. The PAT failed, however, making it 6-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.

H-D made it a two touchdown game in the second quarter. Isaiah Noelck -- who ran for a game-high 114 yards on 25 carries -- punched his way across the goal line for a 5-yard TD run.

The Union defense finally came up with an answer for the H-D offense and got a stop late in the second quarter. The Knights' offense responded with a beautifully executed 2-minute offense. Jay Scheel finished the drive by finding a wide open Tate Hadachek for a 42-yard score.

Down 14-7 at the break, the Knights had plenty of momentum carrying into the second half.

The Knights used that momentum and eventually knotted the game at 14 in the third quarter on a Jacob Holschlag 3-yard TD run.

The score remained in a tie until the fourth quarter. Miller put the Bulldogs back in front by six with a 3-yard TD carry of his own.

Down six late in the game, Union Head Coach Joe Hadachek still felt his team was in a great position to win.

"Our defense came up with a huge stop and we forced a bad punt," said Hadachek. "We were right there."

Union's final possession ended in heartbreaking fashion. Scheel drove the Knights inside the Bulldogs' 5-yard line but an errant pass was picked off in the endzone. The Bulldogs kneeled out for the narrow victory.

The Knights won the turnover margin 2-1, but failed to turn those turnovers into points. Brady Driscol picked off his team-high (and 2A leading) seventh interception, a new Union record. The old record of six was shared by Mike Loveless (1997) and Cheyne Reiter (2007) *shed a tear*. The interception was Union's 14th as a team, tops in 2A as well.

However, the Knights were penalized a game-high nine times for 36 yards, erasing any advantage the turnovers provided.

Scheel completed 6-of-16 passes for 188 yards. He threw one TD and one interception. Holschlag led the Knights ball carriers with 62 yards and a TD on 13 carries. He also led the Knights' defense with 15 tackles.

Union's three-game losing streak is the first of its kind in the Joe Hadachek era, spanning six-and-a-half seasons. Hadachek knows a win at home against No. 6 ranked and undefeated New Hampton would eliminate any sour memories. It would also give the Knights a shot at the No. 2 seed in 2A District 3.

"The road doesn't get any easier Friday night. A lot is on the line for our seniors, our team."