'Inside the Huddle' - Jay Scheel and Co. burn past Maquoketa in Epic Rematch, 21-13

By Cheyne Reiter

Two words. Jay Scheel.

The sophomore sensation put on a show tonight in a 21-13 Knight victory, beating the 10-1 Maquoketa Cardinals who beat Union earlier this year, 35-15.

On the Cardinals opening possession, the game resembled the last matchup very closely. QB Chase Coakley started off a perfect 7-of-7 passing and drove the Cardinals down the field before completing a TD pass to an uncovered receiver. The PAT was missed wide left, but the Cards were out to an early 6-0 lead.

The Knights first possession stalled immediately. Unable to penetrate through the fierce Cardinal defensive line, the Knights were forced to punt. After Union held Maquoketa, the 'Play of the Year' occurred.

A booming punt drove Union punt returner Jay Scheel back to his own 10-yard line. After starting to his right and being bottled up by a swarm of Maquoketa cover men, Scheel broke loose.

Across the field he went. Up the near sideline. Gone.

A 90-yard, Devin Hester-esque punt return touchdown by Scheel sent Union fans into an uproar. I, myself, had goosebumps. There was something about that play that sent a shiver through my spine; I'm sure I wasn't alone.

Needless to say, those chills didn't go away for long.

The Union defense held Maquoketa once again and let Scheel do the rest.

Just minutes after the unbelievable punt return TD, Scheel struck again with his legs. Scheel faked to Burnside and ran right. After hurdling out of two would-be-tacklers, Scheel was off to the races. Two more Maquoketa defenders stood between Scheel and the endzone, but the speedy Scheel stutter-stepped and blew past them igniting the Union crowd into chaos for the second time.

One play, 76 yards. Gone.

The last two Union plays amassed 166 total yards and two touchdowns thanks to Mr. Scheel himself.

Up 14-6, no lead was safe against the prolific Maquoketa offense. Coakley maneuvered the Cardinal offense down the field time and time again into the Union redzone, but the bend-but-don't-break approach by the Knight defense locked it in when it mattered most. Union forced three fumbles, recovering all of them, one being inside the Knight 35, and the other two both inside the Union 10-yard line.

Turnovers are crucial in any game, especially tonight, and Union won the turnover battle 3-0, swinging any momentum the Cardinals had managed back into Union's favor.

In the fourth, it was Scheel who struck again. After a Scheel carry took Union to the Cardinal 5-yard line, he showed that his arm is pretty special too. Rolling to his left, Scheel lofted a perfectly thrown ball to TE Brad Gallup who had a Maquoketa defender draped all over him. The diving grab in the endzone gave Union a 21-6 lead with just under six minutes remaining.

The Cardinals answered quickly as Coakley shredded the Knights secondary in just 51 seconds, completing his second TD of the night to make the score 21-13 with five minutes left.

The final Knights possession burned up the clock and any hopes that Maquoketa had of tying the game.

Union faced a 4th and inches on their own 27-yard line, and a gutsy, do-or-die call by Union head coach Joe Hadachek paid dividends. Following a timeout to think it over, out came the offense. A QB sneak, to none other than Jay Scheel, was the call.

First down. Game over. Dome bound.

Statistically, the electrifying Jay Scheel filled the stat sheet. He ran for 156 yards and a touchdown while throwing for an additional 95 yards and one touchdown on 9-of-14 throws, not to mention his 90-yard punt return TD along with a fumble recovery on defense.

All in all, it was a special night for a special player.

In addition, the powerful 3A D5 first-team selection, Wes Burnside, accumulated just 45 yards on the ground, similar to his last output (49 yards) vs. the Cardinals. Another first-team performer, Trev Hadachek, led the receiving yards category with 46 total while Brad Gallup had 34 yards receiving and the last Knights touchdown.

Coming off the biggest win in Union history vs. Solon, a 39-24 victory, the Knights easily topped that tonight.

With the victory, postseason play continues for Union, 10-2, next Monday night at 7:30 p.m. vs. 12-0, undefeated ADM, Adel, who advanced to the semifinals with a 25-13 win over Pella.

Only this time, it'll be UNI-Dome style.