The Union Titans got over the disappointment of a Week 9 loss, then took out their frustrations in a Week 10 playoff game.
The Titans rushed for 352 yards, scored the first six touchdowns of the game, and cruised to a running-clock, 42-7 victory over Tahoma in a Class 4A state preliminary round game Friday night at McKenzie Stadium.
Union (8-2) lost to Skyview in the 4A Greater St. Helens League finale last week. The Titans showed no emotional scars from that result this week.
“We had a great week of practice, focus,” said senior Brandon Brody-Heim, who rushed 12 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns. “The only team that can stop us is us right now.”
Union senior Tanner Nelson, who scored on a 70-yard run on his only carry of the night, echoed those thoughts.
“We have all the potential in the world,” Nelson said. “We just have to make it happen now. The goal is to get to the dome.”
Union is one of 16 teams to make it to the state 4A bracket. The Titans will be on the road next week against Kentlake.
The Titans needed just 69 seconds to take control over Tahoma of Covington.
Brody-Heim returned the opening kickoff 45 yards to set up the Titans. He added a 45-yard run to the 1-yard line, then was rewarded when his number was called again for the 1-yard plunge.
The Titans made it 14-0 on their next possession when quarterback Kaben Humphrey-Butler found Gabe Rego on a deceptive screen play. Rego caught the ball and had four of his blockers in front of him and only one defender. Rego scored on the 37-yarder — converting a fourth-and-10 play.
Those blockers could be considered the MVPs of the offense this game.
“It’s not what we do. It’s how we do it,” offensive lineman D.J. Anderson said. “We do it physical. We’re nasty about it. We move people.”
Nelson had his 70-yard touchdown run and Brody-Heim added an 11-yard touchdown run just before the half for a 28-0 lead. Brody-Heim had five carries for 67 yards on that drive, barely getting touched until he was well beyond the line of scrimmage.
A.J. Anderson, like Nelson, got only one carry against Tahoma. Like Nelson, he found the end zone, cashing in from 23-yards out in the third quarter to make it 35-0.
So, yes, the offensive line was having its way.
“It’s just pure excitement,” D.J. Anderson said of those long scoring runs. “The (linemen) work every day to come out here on the field to execute.”
Defensively, the Titans were in a zone, as well.
“We just wanted to get tackles and do our jobs,” said junior Nick Henderson, who teamed up with Kevin Grimsted to get a sack when Tahoma was trying to get back in the game with a drive late in the first half. “We accomplished that.”
The Titans gave up 44 points to Skyview last week. Tahoma was averaging close to 40 a game this season.
“Our defense stepped up huge tonight,” Union coach Cale Piland said.
Matt Reeves capped Union’s scoring with an 85-yard interception return late in the third quarter to make it a running clock. Even on an interception when the game was already decided, the Titans remained true to the fundamentals.
“I almost have to give all the credit to (Brandon) Snyder,” Reeves said of the blocking on his return. “He cracked the kid out of his mind. He took out the fastest kid who could have caught me.”
It was close to a perfect night for the Titans.
“We had few mistakes,” Brody-Heim said. “Mentally, we were focused. Everyone did their jobs, and that paid off for us.”
“I think our performance speaks for itself,” Piland said.
UNION 42, TAHOMA 7
Tahoma 0 0 0 7—7
Union 14 14 14 0—42
U — Brandon Brody-Heim 1 run (Trent Cowan kick)
U — Gabe Rego 37 pass from Kaben Humphrey-Butler (Cowan kick)
U — Tanner Nelson 70 run (Cowan kick)
U — Brody-Heim 11 run (Cowan kick)
U — A.J. Anderson 23 run (Cowan kick)
U — Matt Reeves 85 interception return (Cowan kick)
Tah — Jason Smith 14 pass from Shane Nelson (David Stoecker kick)
Rushing — Tahoma: Beau Riggs 19-88, Damon Funk 9-49, Patrick Ota 1-10, Justin Ross 5-5, Zach Browne 4-3, Smith 2-0, Nelson 1-(-7). Union: Brody-Heim 12-194, Nelson 1-70, Rego 3-24, Anderson 1-23, Jon Reynolds 3-22, Taala Letioa 2-14, Ryan Stanford 2-5.
Passing — Tahoma: Nelson 8-20-1-75. Union: Humphrey-Butler 7-12-0-106.
Receiving — Tahoma: DeShon Williams 2-28, Smith 2-24, Ota 3-15, Denham Patricelli 1-8. Union: Rego 1-37, Brody-Heim 2-35, Anderson 3-29, Nelson 1-5.