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Union rallies to beat Federal Way in football opener

Titans erase two-touchdown deficit to win 34-27

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter
Published: September 6, 2014, 5:00pm

FEDERAL WAY — The Union family was feuding.

It got ugly at times.

This was not what the Titans had in mind.

Then the second half started, and all was well in the Union household.

The Titans rallied from a two-touchdown deficit, dominated Federal Way in the second half and beat the Eagles 34-27 Saturday night in a clash of two ranked Class 4A teams.

Alex Berfanger rushed for 126 yards — all in the second half — and scored on a 10-yard run with 4:52 left in the game to give Union its first lead of the 2014 season.

The Union defense, which held Federal Way to 10 yards of offense in the second half, secured the win when Jack Bauer intercepted the Eagles with 3:08 to play.

The way the Union offensive line was playing, it was over. Sure enough, Berfanger and Caleb Browning each picked up first downs to kill the clock.

“It’s all about pushing through when things aren’t going right,” said Union quarterback Nolan Henry, who threw for 143 yards and two touchdowns. “I haven’t been a part of team that struggled so much in the first half but then found the heart to find a win to win, and find a way to get around the things that can go wrong.”

Federal Way gained 276 yards of offense in the first half and led 21-7.

It was in the first half when the Titans didn’t really like each other, they admitted.

“We were getting on each other’s nerves and pointing fingers,” Bauer said.

At halftime, they talked themselves through the tough times.

“We all came out of the locker room and decided we wanted to come out as a family,” Bauer said. “We came together as a family, decided we could trust each other, and did our jobs.”

The Titans had 266 of their 308 rushing yards in the second half. Berfanger credited the offensive line.

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“I get all the glory, but they should get all the glory,” Alex Berfanger said.

One of those linemen is his brother, Zach Berfanger.

Zach said a few team leaders had some great words of encouragement at the break. He, too, noticed the negativity in the first half.

“We came back, did our jobs, and drove down the field,” Zach Berfanger said.

Pretty much all half.

Bauer, who finished with 71 yards rushing, scored two third-quarter touchdowns. Henry also found Zach Caston for a 21-yard touchdown pass.

However, the Eagles still had the lead because they blocked a field goal, which Chico McClatcher returned 99 yards for Federal Way’s only points of the second half.

McClatcher scored three touchdowns for the Eagles — rushing, receiving, and that return.

Union’s Tyler Dionne scored the Titans’ first TD of the season on a 61-yard pass from Henry in the first quarter to tie the game.

Federal Way got the best of the Titans in the second quarter, but then it was all Union.

The Titans failed to score on their first possession of the fourth quarter, but the defense got the offense the ball back right when sophomore Keithen Shepard intercepted a pass. Union went into power football mode again, taking the lead on a 12-play, 76-yard drive.

“It says a lot about the character of the kids when they could overcome everything that went wrong,” said Union coach Gary McGarvie, in his first game as head coach of the Titans.

When Union trailed 27-26 in the fourth, he told some of his assistants that even if they lost, “we can build on this.”

“Obviously, I wanted to win,” McGarvie said.

The Titans became a family Saturday night and got that win.

UNION 34, FEDERAL WAY 27

Union 7 0 19 8—34

F. Way 7 14 6 0—27

First quarter

FW — Ben Koler 13 pass from D’Jimon Jones (Sam Han kick)

U — Tyler Dionne 61 pass from Nolan Henry (Connor Culp kick)

Second quarter

FW — Chico McClatcher 54 run (Han kick)

FW — McClatcher 25 pass from Jones (Han kick)

Third quarter

U — Jack Bauer 3 run (Culp kick)

FW — McClatcher 99 blocked FG return (kick blocked)

U — Zach Caston 21 pass from Henry (kick failed)

U — Bauer 1 run (PAT failed, bad snap)

Fourth quarter

U — Alex Berfanger 10 run (Henry run)

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Union: Berfanger 10-126, Caleb Browning 17-74, Henry 10-31, Bauer 10-71, R.J. Quirante 3-6. Federal Way: McClatcher 12-90, Eric Auelua 6-13, Jones 8-35, Damani Thomas 1-2, Jamon Chambers 1-(minus 8).

PASSING — Union: Henry 8-16-1-143. Federal Way: Jones 8-19-2-154.

RECEIVING — Union: Berfanger 2-20, Dionne 2-71, Browning 1-4, Caston 3-48. Federal Way: James Black 1-14, Charlie Taumoepeau 2-42, Koler 1-13, Bobiono Sims 2-60, McClatcher 1-25.

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Columbian High School Sports Reporter