For the St. Francis Borgia Regional football Knights, it was worth the wait.
Borgia outscored Union Friday in Borgia’s home opener, 44-26.
“I thought the defense came up big in the end, but offense won the game,” Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus said.
“We did impress and we competed and I’m really pleased with that,” Union Head Coach Erick Webster said. “We played better than we did last week. We felt Borgia and Farmington were very comparable and I think Borgia is better than Farmington. What I know is that we didn’t play up to our potential in all the ways we could. We still have some growth to do, but that’s what football is all about. It’s about going out, playing, putting yourself on the line and being measured. Then, you do what you do with what you get. Some guys just win and don’t think about it. Some guys lose and just accept it. We’re going to grow.”
The game featured touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams as well as an extra extended break before halftime. First, the lights went off. Then, after power was restored, the officials kept the teams off the field with lightning spotted in the distance.
While the storms in the sky stayed away, the two teams created a tempest on the field.
The blackout came just after Borgia took the lead with 6:49 to go, 16-14.
Joe Schmidt, Matthew Sinnott, Tyler Stieffermann and Joey Bolte made a gang tackle of Union’s Matt Bray in the end zone. It was just after the Knights punted the ball. Borgia nearly had a safety on the previous play, but Union quarterback Derek Hulsey was able to just get out of the end zone before being tackled.
“We were on a roll right there,” Gildehaus said. “We kept putting pressure on them and he couldn’t throw and they couldn’t run. They made adjustments after half. We came right back and scored again and that was huge. Basically, that’s when we got the two-score edge and maintained the lead to where they had to do something better.”
As Union was getting ready for the free kick, the lights went out and lightning was spotted.
Light rain fell at times during the break, but the field was spared any close fireworks from above. Instead, they remained on the field.
When the game resumed, so did the scoring. Borgia was able to score the next touchdown, a 17-yard run by Louie Eckelkamp with 4:10 left in the half. Jake Nowak kicked the extra point to make it 23-14. It was one of four rushing touchdowns for Eckelkamp on the night.
“We’re just running our veer and trying to figure things out,” Eckelkamp said. “Once we get a couple of those outside runs going, that opens up the inside run game, too, so they stop keying on that. Once you get one thing to click, everything starts jelling and that’s how it went for us.”
Union cut the lead to 23-20 when Hulsey hit Eli Klenke for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth down. The two-point conversion pass failed with 3:16 remaining in the half.
Borgia capped the first half with a 58-yard pass from Cole Meyer to Tyler Glosemeyer down the right sideline with 33.6 seconds to play. Nowak’s kick made it 30-20 at the intermission.
“I thought Louie had a big game tonight,” Gildehaus said. “Cole Meyer has got speed. Matthew Sinnott is powerful. Tyler Glosemeyer caught the long one. He’s got speed. We wanted to take a chance. I wanted to go for that on the first play of the game, but got beat.”
The game featured six scoring plays of 50 yards or more, starting with Christophe Poinsett’s 95-yard kickoff return to put Union on top just 14 seconds into the game.
Webster felt it was a great start for his team.
“It did, but that’s almost as dangerous as it is exciting,” Webster said. “You don’t bring yourself back down from that. You have to step it back down a little bit and it took us a little too long to get back up. It took us too long to get back to that and allowed them to get right back into it and make it a game.”
The next big play was a 55-yard interception return by Schmidt with 5:06 to go in the first half.
Hulsey bounced back from that to hit Burke for a 79-yard touchdown pass just 13 seconds after the Schmidt return.
“He did a good job,” Webster said of Hulsey. “Obviously, there are some things we have to polish. There were some picks, like the one he threw to No. 20 (Sinnott) which was a mistake. The pick we threw for the 10 for the first down, I still think was a reception if we had a replay system. But, that’s how those things go.”
After Glosemeyer’s 58-yard score with 33.6 seconds to play, the big plays belonged to Borgia in the second half. Eckelkamp scored on touchdown runs of 55 and 59 yards in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. He’s scored five rushing touchdowns for the season.
“It feels great to be off to a hot start,” Eckelkamp said. “Last year started a little bit, but to get things going right away this year is awesome.”
Union was limited to one second-half score, a 16-yard pass from Hulsey to Joey Sullivan with 3:13 to play in the third quarter.
“At the blackout and again at halftime, we just schemed a little bit,” Sinnott said. “They were getting us through the middle, so we dropped another safety back and we played physical and just played athletic.”
Union’s offense impressed all. The offensive line was able to give Hulsey plenty of time to pick out receivers. And, when Union handed the ball to Bray, he was able to find holes and carry Borgia defenders along.
“They did a good job,” Webster said. “Borgia did a really good job of trying to bring pressure and doing different stuff. I was really pleased with what our line did, but we can do a better job there, too.”
For Borgia, Gildehaus felt the best defense was a good offense.
“I told the kids that last week the defense set the tone,” Gildehaus said. “We knew we had to keep the ball out of Union’s hands. If you can do that and keep the ball, you can be successful. We let that play clock go down and watched it.”
Borgia picked up 467 yards of total offense with 337 on the ground and 130 through the air.
Meyer was 7-8 for 130 yards and a touchdown. Sam Heggemann attempted two passes.
Glosemeyer had one catch for 58 yards. Nate Rickman caught three passes for 30 yards. Brandon Mitchell had a reception for 20 yards while Adam Molitor caught a pass for 13 yards. Tyler Stieffermann had one catch for nine yards.
Eckelkamp ran 21 times for 239 yards and four scores.
Meyer had nine carries for 50 yards while Sinnott ran four times for 18 yards.
Alonzo MacDonald ran twice for 15 yards. Eli Haddox had one carry for nine yards. Heggemann had three rushes for four yards. Stieffermann ran once for two yards.
Sinnott posted 13 total tackles with an interception.
Meyer posted seven total tackles. Schmidt had four solo stops, two sacks and an interception.
Braedyn Frankenberg, Justin Thacker and Heggemann each had four total stops.
For Union, Hulsey completed 21 of 36 pass attempts for 291 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Burke was the top receiver with three catches for 148 yards and one score.
Joey Sullivan posted seven catches for 55 yards and a score. Eli Klenke had five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Bray caught three passes for 17 yards and Noah Allen had two catches for eight yards. Donavan Rutledge had one snag for 18 yards.
Bray gained 41 yards on 11 carries. Poinsett had one carry for five yards. Rutledge lost a yard on one carry and Hulsey had seven carries for -15 yards.
Meyer posted 17 total tackles (five solos), Poinsett had 15 total stops (seven solos) while David Clark ended with 14 assists.
Nick Luechtefeld, Mason Bailey and Brett Linhardt each had six total tackles.
Week 3 Previews
Borgia, currently third in Class 4 District 5 behind Camdenton and Helias, stays at home to host Tolton Catholic of Columbia (1-1) in its Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Division opener.
Tolton won its opener over Hallsville, 29-16, but lost to Lutheran St. Charles last week, 40-18.
“All I know is that they’re close to 300 pounds across the line,” Gildehaus said. “We’re 2-0 and that’s huge in our district. We have to keep winning these district games. Beating Pacific and Union means we will be seeded ahead of them. We’ve got to keep improving because it only gets tougher after this.”
Union returns home to host Sullivan (0-2) in the Four Rivers Conference opener. It’s Union’s first home game and the Wildcats will honor former head coach Del Rinne before the game. Union is naming the field at Stierberger Stadium after him.
“That will be really neat,” Webster said. “We’re really excited about next week. He’s a great guy.”
Sullivan lost its opener at home to Hillsboro, 30-17, and fell on the road to Festus last Friday, 20-13.
UNI - 14-6-6-0=26
BOR - 14-16-7-7=44
UNI - Christophe Poinsett 95 kickoff return (Peyton Burke kick), 11:46
BOR - Louie Eckelkamp 22 run (Jake Nowak kick), 7:48
BOR - Joe Schmidt 55 interception return (Nowak kick), 5:06
UNI - Burke 79 pass from Derek Hulsey (Burke kick), 4:53
BOR - Safety Matt Bray tackled in end zone, 6:49
BOR - Eckelkamp 17 run (Nowak kick), 4:10
UNI - Eli Klenke 22 pass from Hulsey (pass failed), 3:16
BOR - Tyler Glosemeyer 58 pass from Cole Meyer (Nowak kick), 0:33.6
UNI - Joey Sullivan 16 pass from Hulsey (kick blocked), 3:13
BOR - Eckelkamp 55 run (Nowak kick), 1:11
BOR - Eckelkamp 59 run (Nowak kick), 5:10