Just days before Halloween, Union gave Priory a major scare on the football field.
Playing in the first round of Class 4 District 3 action, the third-seeded Rebels escaped Parkway North High School with an 8-0 victory Thursday over sixth-seeded Union.
“Without their running back, I thought we were the better team,” said Union Head Coach Erick Webster. “We just did not have a good offensive performance. We totaled around 33 yards when you throw in all the plays where we lost yardage.”
Priory (8-2) will play at St. Clair (9-1) in the district semifinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The other semifinal game will feature fifth-seeded Westminster (8-2) at top-seeded Sullivan (10-0).
The Rebels’ leading rusher, Thomas Raybuck, who entered the game with 1,411 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns, did not play against Union due to a turf toe injury suffered during practice. He is questionable for the St. Clair game.
The only scoring of the game came on a second-quarter touchdown and a third-quarter safety.
Priory grabbed a 6-0 lead with 6:05 remaining in the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Nogalski to Patrick Agnew.
The score remained the same until Union quarterback Blake Hulsey was sacked in the end zone for a safety to make the score 8-0 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
Union (5-5) played well enough defensively to win, but it was a tough night for the Wildcats’ offense.
Hulsey was 6-20 passing for 43 yards in the contest.
“They brought blitzes and we didn’t handle it very well,” Webster said. “We also didn’t catch the ball and didn’t run it effectively. That put us in a hole.”
Priory accumulated 277 total yards, 200 rushing and 77 passing.
Nogalski was 8-17 passing for 77 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 71 yards on 20 attempts.
Dominic Coppola carried the ball 22 times for 80 yards. John Rhodes rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries.
“Our defense did a good job. The thing that hurt us was they threw the ball effectively on third and fourth down, which kept drives alive,” Webster said. “Their quarterback is a good athlete. He runs well and throws decently. If they have their running back against St. Clair, they might be able to pose a slight threat.”
Despite the loss, Union takes momentum into the offseason after playing a solid second half of the campaign.
The Wildcats stood with a 1-4 record after their first five games, but ended their season with four wins in their last five contests.
Union has just four seniors on the roster, Dennis Dodd, Cody Pace, Blake Wright and Nathan Erwin.
“We have a really young team with only four seniors,” Webster said. “Our kids will only get older, faster and stronger. I think we have a bright future.”