It was a blowout for the Union Titans. Then it wasn’t.
The Titans don’t care right now. They did the things they had to do to win Friday night at McKenzie Stadium.
Giving the ball to Gabe Rego was one of those things.
Getting tough on defense after Mountain View had all the momentum was another one of those things.
Combined, it all turned into a 33-21 Union victory over the Thunder in a battle of non-league rivals from the same school district.
Rego rushed for 230 yards on 24 carries with three touchdowns as the Titans bounced back after the Thunder bounced back into the game.
Union led 21-0 early in the second quarter. The game was tied at 21 midway through the third quarter.
Rego’s third touchdown of the night, a 4-yard run late in the third quarter, gave the lead back to the Titans at 27-21.
“I just wanted to prove that it doesn’t matter where you start (on the depth chart), but what you do on the field,” said Rego, who was not even a running back during training for the season.
Injuries have forced Rego into a starting role, and he and his linemen have turned that into a starring role.
Union quarterback Kaben Humphrey-Butler added a 4-yard sneak to make it 33-21 midway through the final period.
The Union defense held the Thunder to three consecutive three-and-outs, got a fourth-down stop, and then an interception to end Mountain View’s final five possessions.
Tanner Nelson, who caught a touchdown pass on offense, had big-time stuffs on third-down plays during that crucial stretch.
“It was just huge to turn that momentum around,” Nelson said.
Mountain View tied the game one play after Union’s Treve’ Ensley was taken off the field by a stretcher after suffering a severe arm/elbow injury. Michael Rivers ran untouched 30 yards against the Titans, who said it took them a play or two to get over the loss of their teammate.
“Treve’, he’s put his heart into this team,” left tackle Phil Westphal said. “Nobody wanted to lose after he went down. We all wanted to win for him.”
After Mountain View (3-2) tied it, the Union defense took over the contest.
“We got in the right mindset and had the goal to not let them move the ball anymore,” Nelson said.
The Titans (4-1) could still move it, though.
Rego was solid throughout, with 115 yards in the first half and 115 more in the second half. He credited his linemen, and his linemen appreciated it.
“The running back usually gets all the glory,” Westphal said. “We take pride as O-linemen, opening up holes to get some green space. The fullbacks block, the receivers block. Everybody does their jobs, and you have a game like that.”
While the Titans earned their fourth win in a row, it was not a perfect performance, according to coach Cale Piland. But he did like how his squad finished.
“When we get somebody in the position we had them in, you can’t let your foot off the gas,” Piland said. “We made a couple critical errors, they took advantage, and we allowed them to get back in the game. On the flip side, it was a gut-check for us. They tied the game, and our kids responded.”
Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson also had mixed emotions. Disappointed with the loss, but thrilled with the effort by the Thunder.
“We’re going to measure ourselves by our performance. At 21-0, we had a choice to make. Our kids responded, and I’m proud of them.”
Rego scored on a 63-yard run, then added a 1-yard TD plunge for a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter. He had 100 yards on his first eight carries.
Tanner Nelson then kept his focus on a ball that was batted out of his hands in the end zone. Nelson caught the loose ball for a touchdown reception from Humphrey-Butler for a 21-0 lead. Humphrey-Butler finished 9 of 11 for 101 yards through the air.
Mountain View got a 1-yard scoring run from quarterback Riley O’Dell and then a 3-yard touchdown run from Rivers to make it 21-13 at the half.
Rivers, who finished with 123 yards on 13 carries, then tied the game on his 30-yard run midway through the third.
From there, it was all Union again.
UNION 33, MOUNTAIN VIEW 21
Mountain View 0 13 8 0—21
Union 14 7 6 6— 33
U — Gabe Rego 63 run (Trent Cowan kick)
U — Rego 1 run (Cowan kick)
U — Tanner Nelson 23 pass from Kaben Humphrey-Butler (Cowan kick)
MV — Riley O’Dell 1 run (Chavo Camargo kick)
MV — Michael Rivers 3 run (kick failed)
MV— Rivers 30 run (Ryan Hite pass from O’Dell)
U — Rego 4 run (kick failed)
U — Humphrey-Butler 4 run (run failed)
Rushing — Mountain View: Rivers 13-123, Justin Rinta 15-35, O’Dell 5-22, Connor Atchison 4-12. Union: Rego 24-230, Humphrey-Butler 9-14, A.J. Anderson 1-2.
Passing — Mountain View: O’Dell 4-12-1-39. Union: Humphrey-Butler 9-11-0-101.
Receiving — Mountain View: Mark Hartley 2-30, Atchison 1-10, Cory Creagan 1-(-1). Union: Nelson 4-53, Rego 1-19, Cory Buendicho 1-18, Treve’ Ensley 2-11.