One yard short, one second late — those were differences between a win and a loss for the Union Titans against Eastlake on Saturday.
Trailing by three points in a bonkers, momentum-swinging game between the two 4A programs, a go-ahead score for Union was within reach when the offense drove 71 yards on a drive that started with 1 minute, 29 seconds on the clock.
Quarterback Tyson Fuehrer completed six passes to four different receivers, including a 23-yard strike to Caden Drobinski down the sideline to the Eastlake 1-yard line.
Twelve seconds were left on the clock. The Titans were out of timeouts. They decided to call a run, and Eastlake stuffed it.
Union scrambled to spike the ball, but the clock expired as the ball was snapped.
Eastlake stormed the field at McKenzie Stadium to celebrate a 35-32 road win.
“The first games are always a crapshoot …” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said. “I was really proud of the way they came out. Obviously we had some game one mistakes that probably won’t ever happen again, hopefully. I’m just super proud of the way the came out and competed. You have adversity and you overcome it.”
Interestingly, Union had a pass play called initially in the huddle at the 1-yard line until Eastlake took a timeout. When the team came back to the sideline, the offensive line told coaches they wanted to run the ball, and convinced them to change the play. They also discussed spiking the ball if the run was short, which was something they’ve practiced with the defense holding them. Rosenbach said it took them an average of six to seven seconds.
“I felt confident we could get it, and we just didn’t get it,” he said.
But the final play wasn’t the only thing Union was talking about after the game.
On one hand, the Titans gave up two safeties, had seven personal foul penalties gifting Eastlake more than 100 free yards on offense and allowed the Wolves to score 23 unanswered in the third quarter.
Yet Union nearly overcame all of those things with a furious comeback in the hands of its retooled offense around a new group of skill players and Fuehrer, who became the starter after two other quarterbacks in the mix moved to Arizona over the summer.
Fuehrer completed 30 passes for 279 yards and two scores, while leading receiver AJ Attaran had 130 yards on 11 catches and Drobinski added 95 yards on eight receptions. Running back Cody Zehner rushed for 135 yards, which included a breakaway 81-yard score in the first quarter to give Union an early lead.
Union flashed that potential in game one, but now the team has a clear picture of what it needs to improve on. Up next for Union is 3A Yelm, which topped 4A Greater St. Helens League foe Camas 44-14 on Friday. In fact, with Union’s loss on Saturday, all four 4A GSHL teams dropped their season openers.
“We just reminded them, this doesn’t meaning anything. This means 0-1 and that’s it,” Rosenbach said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t do all the things you set out (to do) from a goal standpoint. We just gotta come back to work. We gotta be more disciplined.”
EASTLAKE 35, UNION 32
Eastlake 5 0 23 7—35
Union 6 12 0 14—32
E — Safety
E — Alex Dreher 27 field goal
U — Cody Zehner 81 run (pass failed)
U — Luke Burbank 3 run (kick blocked)
U — AJ Attaran 17 pass from Tyson Fuehrer (kick blocked)
E — Grady Woodward 10 pass from Cole Hunt (Dreher kick)
E — Safety
E — Woodward 32 pass from Hunt (Dreher kick)
E — Blake Borup 3 run (Dreher kick)
U — Caden Drobinski 23 pass from Fuehrer (Fuehrer run)
U — Zehner 3 run (run failed)
E — Woodward 43 pass from Hunt (Dreher kick)
RUSHING — Eastlake: Blake Borup 9-47, Cole Hunt 5-35, Jack Edmunds 5-6. Union: Cody Zehner 20-135, Chase Lofton 1-(minus 1), Tyson Fuehrer 9-(minus 1), Luke Burbank 4-11, Sincere Scruggs 2-4.
PASSING — Eastlake: Hunt 13-18-2-161, Borup 0-1-0-0; Union: Fuehrer 30-37-2-279.
RECEIVING — Eastlake: Grady Woodward 9-128, Kai Brown 4-33. Union: AJ Attaran 11-130, Caden Drobinski 8-95, Deeso Sakhoeun-Hem 5-35, Toby Smoot 4-16, Zehner 1-(minus 2).