Blake Hulsey’s first half proved to be just a little better than Craig Winkelmann’s second half.
And that’s what proved to be the difference as the Union Wildcats edged the Hermann Bearcats Friday at Stierberger Stadium, 21-14.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Union Head Coach Erick Webster said. “They played really tough. They did a great job tonight. They’re a pretty good football team in my book.”
Hermann Head Coach Andy Emmons said his team came out strong in the second half.
“It was definitely a tale of two halves,” Emmons said. “We played much better in the second half. I was very proud of our defense especially how they played in the second half.”
The home victory gave Union (7-2, 5-1) second place in the Four Rivers Conference over the Bearcats (5-4, 4-2).
Additionally, both teams will host Week 10 playoff games Thursday. Union will host Priory (5-4) while Hermann will host Hallsville (6-3). Both games will start at 7 p.m.
Hulsey, Union’s junior quarterback, scored three touchdowns in the first half while Winkelmann accounted for all 14 Hermann points in the second half.
Hulsey’s touchdowns were:
• 8:32 left in first quarter on a one-yard run (kick failed);
• 3:04 left in second quarter on a one-yard run (Hulsey ran for conversion); and
• 14.4 seconds left in the second quarter on a five-yard run (Grant Henry kicked the extra point).
Winkelmann’s scores were:
• 9:49 left in third quarter on a 12-yard run (kick failed); and
• 2:29 left in third quarter on a 12-yard run (Winkelmann ran for the conversion).
“We had a couple of rough things happen,” Webster said. “We had a pass bounce off a kid’s pads in the end zone. That was the difference between a 28-7 lead and a 21-14 lead and that led to a fight at the end. I’m pleased our guys got the chance to play for four full quarters. We haven’t had that in a few weeks.”
Henry Fights Back
The one point in the game not scored by either of the quarterbacks came on a kick by Union senior Grant Henry. While the conversion kick may be lost in the box score, there’s a lot more to the story.
Just suiting up for game was a victory for Henry, who was severely injured in an accident on Old Highway 50 prior to 7 a.m. March 14.
Henry’s white Mustang struck a ditch, went airborne and struck a utility pole before overturning.
He was flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for treatment and the recovery has been a long one.
“We were wondering if he was going to make it to the next week,” Webster said.
After returning to school, Henry was able to rejoin the football team, but wasn’t cleared for competition until the day before the Hermann game.
“We went from there to working for the last couple of months with kicking and trying to find something he could do,” Webster said. “We wanted to keep him as part of the team. He came out here and got his chance. You can’t have a better ending to the story than him making it. I’m extremely proud of him and the fight he’s been through. He’s still got a long way to go, but I’m extremely proud of him.”
And, with Union leading 20-0 late in the second quarter, Henry was sent into the game to attempt the conversion kick following Hulsey’s third score.
Hermann, showing tremendous sportsmanship, did not rush the kick and Henry kicked the ball through the uprights to make it 21-0.
“We were happy to allow Grant Henry to get the opportunity to kick the extra point,” Emmons said. “I explained the situation to our guys when the timeout was called. We have a great group of young men and we are very disciplined so I had no doubt they would do the right thing.”
Union’s Quick Double
Henry’s extra-point kick came soon after Union scored its second touchdown in less than three minutes, moving from a 6-0 lead to a 21-0 advantage by the half.
Union was able to move the ball in the final minute to score a decisive touchdown.
After Hermann was halted near midfield, the Wildcats stormed back. Hulsey hit Logan Bellamy for a 45-yard gain down to the Hermann 12 with 29.8 seconds to play.
Hulsey followed up by finding Jake Siddens for a seven-yard pass down to the five with 24.3 seconds to go.
With time running out, Hermann made it difficult for Hulsey to find an open receiver from the five, so he scrambled into the end zone for a score with 14.4 seconds left in the half.
Union picked up 270 passing and 136 rushing yards in the game.
Hermann ran for 368 yards and passed for 56 yards.
Hulsey was 20-31 for 270 yards and one interception through the air. He carried the ball 21 times for 29 yards and three touchdowns.
For the season, Hulsey surpassed 3,000 passing yards during the contest. He now is 213-299 for 3,017 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions.
For Hermann, Winkelmann carried the ball 14 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He was 5-10 passing the ball for 56 yards and one interception.
Union’s top rusher was John Prosser, who ran 11 times for 46 yards. Bellamy picked up 22 yards on three carries while Jacob Carman had three rushes for 19 yards.
Deric Purnell ran once for 13 yards while Nick Maher had one carry for seven yards.
After Winkelmann, Chris Hug picked up 89 yards on 11 carries for Hermann. Garret Leimkuehler ran five times for 74 yards. Saige Hale posted nine carries for 50 yards.
Jarrod Kolbe ran three times for 24 yards while Jordan Leicht had one carry for three yards and Conner Lane ran once for two yards.
Siddens caught the most passes, six, while gaining 64 yards for the Wildcats.
Bellamy caught four passes for 86 yards. Jobie Richardson had four catches for 50 yards.
Carman caught three passes for 38 yards. Maher had one reception for 23 yards. Tyler Pace caught one pass for eight yards and Prosser had one catch for one yard.
Hermann’s top receiver was Kody Thompson, who had three receptions for 31 yards. Leimkuehler caught one pass for 17 yards and Grant Ruediger had one catch for five yards.
Defensively, Ryan Schumaker intercepted a pass, which thwarted one Hermann drive.
Thompson intercepted a deflected pass for the Bearcats in the end zone and returned it 48 yards to set up a Hermann drive.
For Union, Prosser, Joe Lasky and Casey Peth each had one sack. Kolbe led Hermann with two sacks while Leicht, Hale, Cody Hudson and Zach Speckhals had one sack each.
Maher led Union with 15 total tackles, including 10 solo stops. Ben Jeffs had 10 total tackles. Lasky had eight while Logan Meyer, Bellamy and Prosser each had seven. Siddens was next with six.
Kolbe led Hermann with 12 total tackles, including 10 solo stops. Speckhals had 11 total tackles while Lane recorded 10, Leicht ended with nine and Winkelmann had eight. Colton Hale and Saige Hale each had seven stops.
Week 10 Previews
Union gets a rematch this week against Priory, the same district first-round opponent it faced last year.
In 2012, the Wildcats had to go on the road and lost in an 8-0 game to the Rebels. This year, Priory comes to Union Thursday. Kickoff at Stierberger Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
Priory brings a 5-4 record to Union. The Rebels have posted wins over Alton Marquette, Lutheran North, Lutheran South, Affton and St. Dominic this season.
Losses have been against John Burroughs, MICDS, Westminster Christian and Breese, Ill., Mater Dei.
The loss to Westminster came by two points, 20-18. The Rebels held John Burroughs to 21 points in Week 3 in a 21-6 loss.
Union will have to stop quarterback Andrew Rund to have a chance in the game.
Rund has completed 76 of 138 pass attempts for 961 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s thrown six interceptions.
On the ground, Rund has carried the ball 116 times for 590 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Dominic Coppola also will see a lot of carries. He has 108 on the season for 568 yards and three touchdowns.
When the Rebels throw, Patrick O’Brien is the top target with 24 catches for 275 yards. But Rund also will look for Patrick Agnew (13 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns) and Jack Heitz (16 catches for 224 yards and four touchdowns).
Defensively, Paul Deschler is the top tackler with 58 total stops and two sacks. Kevin Schilling also has two sacks while Will O’Brien and Cole Esparrago each have two interceptions.
Hermann hosts Hallsville Thursday in a Class 2 District 6 quarterfinal at 7 p.m.
“Hallsville should be a very physical and tough game,” said Emmons. “I would expect it to be a very exciting one.”
Hallsville comes into Thursday’s game with a 6-3 record. The Indians have beaten Fayette, Paris, Warsaw, Versailles, Osage and Southern Boone.
The win over Osage came in overtime, 41-34.
Losses have been against Blair Oaks, California and Eldon.
Joe Forge has completed 77 of 153 pass attempts for 1,170 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Gabe Breuer (21 catches for 456 yards and six touchdowns), Gabe Sheffield (26 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns) and Skyler Creed (18 catches for 192 yards) are the top receivers.
On the ground, Creed is the top runner with 160 carries for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. Austin Cochran has carried the ball 74 times for 551 yards and eight touchdowns while Forge has run 73 times for 218 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Collin Drummond leads the way with 96 total tackles.
UNI - Blake Hulsey 1 run (kick failed), 8:32
UNI - Hulsey 1 run (Hulsey run), 3:04
UNI - Hulsey 5 run (Grant Henry kick), 0:14.4
HER - Craig Winkelmann 12 run (kick failed), 9:49
HER - Winkelmann 12 run (Winkelmann run), 2:29