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Union topples rival Camas in battle of 4A’s past two state champs

Titans' defense comes up big to defeat defending champion Papermakers

By , Columbian sports reporter
Published:
6 Photos
Union wide receiver Jake Bowen, right, catches a long pass against Camas defender Zach Blair.
Union wide receiver Jake Bowen, right, catches a long pass against Camas defender Zach Blair. (Photo by Steve Dipaola for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — Union football’s 17-9 victory over Camas on Friday night will go down as one of the more intriguing entries in the history books of Clark County’s highest-profile rivalry. Not only for its peculiarity — it was played on a chilly, wet February night at an empty Doc Harris Stadium — but also for its meaningfulness.

It was a matchup between the 2018 and 2019 4A State champions, and neither team had played for 15 months. In a shortened season with no state tournament, the season-opener was also the biggest game on the schedule.

To escape with a win over a rival and the defending state champion after not competing for 468 days was ecstasy for the Titans.

“We’ve been at this for 15 months, working out in garages, trying to find the time to get better,” senior captain Therman Bibens said. “It’s a big hurdle to get over. Now we just have to finish.”

Alex Gehrmann threw for 141 yards on 15-of-23 passing, Jake Bowen hauled in four passes for 77 yards and Jaydon Jones and Kellen Milliken had short scoring rushes for Union. Sonny Pitts added a 45-yard field goal, a school record. But it was the defense that ruled the day.

Union held Camas to 204 yards and forced four three-and-outs. On a pair of key fourth downs, the Titans made stops. On the Papermakers’ first possession of the third quarter, Kellen Milliken made a massive hit to break up a would-be first down catch at the Union 33-yard line.

In the fourth quarter, with Camas driving down 17-9 with less than 3 minutes remaining, Jake Blair scrambled to his left and looked for a seam to move the chains. Bibens chased him down and tackled him out of bounds to thwart the Papermakers’ final opportunity.

Jaden Hornsby also recovered a fumble on the Titans’ 5-yard line that halted an 11-play, 68-yard Camas drive, the Papermakers’ longest of the night.

“We’ve known that defense is one of the biggest strengths on this team” Milliken said. “This defense is very special.”

Pressured and forced to run all night, Jake Blair was limited to 94 yards on 12-of-23 passing. He also ran for 43 yards on 17 attempts. Gabe Guo chipped in 74 yards on 21 carries and a 4-yard scoring scamper.

The Papermakers, who suffered their first loss in 846 days, get a bye week before taking on Battle Ground on March 12. Union turns its attention to another rival. The Titans host Mountain View at McKenzie Stadium on Friday.

“This is one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of,” Milliken said. “I was on that 2018 state championship team and this team feels just about as good.”

Union 17, Camas 9

Union 0 17 0 0—17

Camas 3 0 0 6—9

First quarter

C — Matt Gerardo 31 FG

Second quarter

U — Kellen Milliken 1 run (Sonny Pitts kick)

U — Jaydon Jones 4 run (Pitts kick)

U — Pitts 45 FG

Fourth quarter

C — Gabe Guo 4 run (kick block)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — U: Alex Gehrmann 3-7, Aidan Olson 7-27, Jaydon Jones 10-19, Kellen Milliken 1-1, Marques Cantu 1-2; C: Gabe Guo 21-74, Zach Blair 1-(-2), Jake Blair 17-43, Jairus Phillips 3-10.

Passing — U: Alex Gehrmann 15-23-0-141; C: Jake Blair 12-23-0-94.

Receiving — U: Jake Bowen 4-77, Tobias Merriweather 3-17, Jaydon Jones 3-17, Alex Wood 1-15, Kellen Milliken 1-8, Marques Cantu 3-7; C: Gabe Guo 2-21, Zach Blair 2-29, Connor Murphy 1-11, Bryce Dewey 5-30, Logan Silva 2-3.

33 Photos
Union wide receiver Jake Bowen runs after a reception against Camas. Union vs. Camas on February 26, 2021.
Union tops Camas 17-9 in season-opening rivalry game Photo Gallery
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