Sometimes, after a tough loss, a road trip can be therapeutic.
That wasn’t the case for the Union football Wildcats.
Union (3-3) fell in its last nonconference game of the regular season Friday in Bolivar, 60-14.
“No doubt it was a tough one for our team,” Union Head Coach Justin Grahl said. “Bolivar is an excellent team that is poised to make some noise in the Class 4 playoffs. Our mishaps come down to not executing in any facet of the game. Our offense, defense and special teams need to get flat better. We need to improve on the little things and get back to basics.”
Bolivar is 166 miles from Union High School by the most direct route, just over a three-hour trip by bus. This was the return game of a two-year contract.
The undefeated Liberators (6-0) showed no mercy to the Wildcats.
“I think games like Bolivar can serve as a great learning experience not only about football, but life in general,” Grahl said. “Things aren’t always going to bounce your way in football and in life. You have to be ready to pick yourself up and get better. We will use Bolivar as an opportunity to refocus ourselves to prepare for a solid Owensville team.”
Despite the final score, Union did have some positives.
Matt Bray ran for both Union touchdowns. He scored from seven yards out in the second quarter and on a six-yard run in the third quarter.
Overall, Bray carried the ball 28 times for 152 yards and two scores.
“If there was a bright spot it was the play of Matt Bray and our offensive line,” Grahl said. “Matt ran the ball extremely hard and showed just what type of runner and person he is. He has a lot of heart.”
Hunter Grafrath hit both extra-point attempts on the night.
David Clark posted a sack defensively.
Derek Hulsey completed 18 of 31 pass attempts for 112 yards.
Peyton Burke was the top receiver with five catches for 43 yards.
Chase Mehler caught four passes for 26 yards. Donavan Rutledge had three catches for 22 yards. Christophe Poinsett caught five passes for 18 yards and Mason Bailey had one catch for three yards.
On the ground, Poinsett also ran six times for 28 yards. Luke Koch had two carries for seven yards. Gus Wencker carried the ball once for one yard.
Hulsey and Liam Hughes each had one rush for negative yardage.
Nick Luechtefeld was the top tackler with one solo stop and three assists. Poinsett had one solo tackle and two assists. Zac Elias made one tackle and one assist.
The host Liberators had seven different players score touchdowns while Alex Maldonado kicked four extra points.
Ethan Dinwiddie ran for scores of 76 and 42 yards. Hunter Berry caught a 10-yard pass from Hayden Burks and threw a four-yard score to Bo Banner.
Burks also had a 45-yard pass to Bladen Hancock and ran for a four-yard touchdown.
Hancock added a 75-yard kickoff return after Union’s opening score. The Wildcats got a seven-yard touchdown by Bray with 59 seconds to go in the half. It took 12 additional seconds for Hancock to give Bolivar another touchdown.
Bolivar scored three times in the fourth quarter on rushing touchdowns by Burks (four yards), Andrew Dunn (six yards) and Dylan Hall (44 yards).
Union faces another high-powered offense in Week 7 as Owensville visits for Homecoming.
“Owensville is a team playing with a lot of confidence right now, and rightfully so,” Grahl said. “They are very experienced with the majority of their kids playing varsity reps last year. They will try and test us both vertically and horizontally on offense and their defense will play a very physical brand of football.”
The Dutchmen (4-2, 2-1) are coming off of a dominant 40-2 win over Pacific last Friday at home. The lone Pacific score came when an Owensville defender intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran out. He retreated back to the end zone trying to get a touchback, but was called for a safety.
Owensville has scored at least 23 points in each of its games. It’s scored as much as 55 points in a game (Week 3 win over Cuba, 55-14) and as few as 23 (Week 4 win over St. James, 23-6).
The other win was over Eldon, 36-30.
The losses were in Week 1 to Potosi (44-28) and Hermann in Week 5 (46-38 in double overtime).
Brendan Decker quarterbacks the Dutchmen and he’s completed 66 of 120 pass attempts for 1,119 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Top receiving targets are Derek Brandt (22 catches for 581 yards and six touchdowns), Cason Gray (13-291, four touchdowns) and Trevor Abernathy (10-107, one touchdown).
Austin Lowder is the team’s leading rusher with 480 yards and six touchdowns on 59 carries.
Decker is a running threat as well with 80 rushes for 457 yards and seven touchdowns.
TC Fisher leads the defense with 77 total tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Garret West is next with 60 tackles, two sacks and one fumble recovery.
Cody Linder, Michael Miles and West each have two sacks.
Trenten Watkins has recovered four fumbles. TJ Whelan is the interceptions leader with three.
“For us it comes down to earning a chance to win this week in practice,” Grahl said. “We need to rebuild some of the confidence that served us so well early in the season. With this week being Homecoming we are excited about showing our community the improvement in our program. We will need to limit some of the distractions that come along with a homecoming celebration this week.”
UNI - 0-7-7-0=14
BOL - 14-12-14-20=60
BOL - Hunter Berry 10 pass from Hayden Burks (Alex Maldonado kick), 6:16
BOL - Bo Banner 4 pass from Berry (Maldonado kick), 0:36
BOL - Ethan Dinwiddie 76 run (kick failed), 4:24
UNI - Matt Bray 7 run (Hunter Grafrath kick), 0:59
BOL - Bladen Hancock 75 kick return (run failed), 0:47
BOL - Dinwiddie 42 run (Banner run), 9:11
BOL - Hancock 45 pass from Burks (pass failed), 8:57
UNI - Bray 6 run (Grafrath kick), 5:39
BOL - Burks 4 run (pass failed), 11:47
BOL - Andrew Dunn 6 run (Maldonado kick), 8:35
BOL - Dylan Hall 44 run (Maldonado kick), 3:45