United falls from ranks of the unbeaten
By Robert Blackford/Editor
The United Red Storm fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday night, Oct. 9 with a 42-27 loss to the Mercer County Golden Eagles. Each team's record now stands at 6-1.
Despite the loss the United head coach was upbeat.
"I think we improved in a lot of areas tonight," said United coach Tim Engebretson. The Red Storm passing game was effective in the second half. United outscored Mercer County 19-7 in the second half. "We probably averaged four passes a night coming in here. We probably only had 100 yards passing on the season. I'm impressed with Zach and the receivers. We've had some trouble catching passes he past couple of weeks. I thought we played more aggressive on defense in the second half. Hats off to them. They are a good football team."
The Red Storm got off to a bad start.
The Golden Eagles jumped out on top early as Austin Skiles ran the opening kickoff back 91 yards for a touchdown. Brett Anderson's conversion run gave Mercer County an early 8-0 lead.
"We just put the reverse in this week. I credit Michael (McClellan) for working on it with me and the blockers did a great job overall."
United fought back on its opening drive. Fullback Geoffrey Hahn got the drive going on a 57 yard run to the Mercer County 20 yard line. Adam Olin ended the six-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. Zach Steele's conversion pass to Olin tied the score at 8-8.
Mercer County came right back with a nine play scoring drive of its own. Brett Anderson completed a 43-yard pass to Kyle Pittman during the drive. Ethan Ball took the ball in for the score. Luke Boucher's extra point gave Mercer County a 15- 8 lead.
The Golden Eagles scored again on the second play of the second quarter as Michael McClellan scored on an 11 yard run to put Mercer County ahead 21-8.
The second quarter was United's undoing as the Golden Eagles scored 21 unanswered points in the period and took a 35-8 lead into the locker room at half-time.
"They are so explosive offensively. We just didn't have an answer for them."
After holding United scoreless following an 11-play drive, Mercer County drove 67 yards scoring on a 16 yard run by Max Parkinson. The key play during the drive was a 31-yard pass from Anderson to Tanner Benson on a fourth down and 10 play.
Mercer County scored again at the 1:09 mark when Anderson hit Skiles on a 22-yard touchdown pass giving Mercer County a 35-8 lead right before the half.
The Red Storm was down but it wasn't out.
United went to the pass in the third quarter. Zach Steele completed 20-yard passes to Josh Winston and Dustin Logsdon to setup up a four-yard touchdown run by Olin cutting the Mercer County lead to 35-14.
The Golden Eagles answered back as Anderson hooked up with Shaun Peterson on a 68-yard pass play on a second down and 20 play. Anderson followed the next play with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Tanner Benson to give Mercer County a 2-14 lead.
United came right back aided by a couple of penalties by the Golden Eagles. United scored when Steele hooked up with Aaron McDonald on a 12-yard touchdown pass to cut the Mercer County lead to 42-21.
United's Christian Schrader then recovered an onside kick giving the Red Storm the ball.
Steele completed a pass to Josh Winston to set up a 21 yard touchdown pass to Nick Hull for score cutting Mercer County's lead to 42-27 with 11:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The United defense held and forced Mercer County to punt on its next possession.
But driving with a chance to cut the lead to one score, a Steele pass was picked off by Skiles effectively ending the Red Storm's chances.
"I'd been picked on all night," said Skiles. "It got me fired back up and ready to play again. The play was away from my side of the field. I was just at the right place at the right time."
"We're going to have to step it up said senior lineman Jordan Willits. "We stepped it up in the first half. We have to play four quarter. We needed to come out and play better n the second half."
Anderson echoed those feelings. "Something happened in the second half. We can't have that kind of defensive lapse where we don't stop them for a whole quarter."
Anderson engineered a drive to the United 20 yard line by hitting Benson with passes of 20 and 14 yards. But the drive stalled there and Luke Boucher's field goal attempt came up short.
United had the ball again but with only 4:07 remaining on the clock and behind by two touchdowns there weren't able to recover turning over the ball on downs.
"I was the most proud of the way we came back at the end," said Engebretson.
"We are a good football team getting better," said Mercer County coach Nat Zunkel following the contest.
United rushed 45 times on the night for 186 yards. Steele completed nine of 13 pass attempts for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Golden Eagle Brett Anderson completed 15 of his 19 pass attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
Mercer County rushed 25 times for 119 yards.