**ARTICLE BY MICHAEL MARKOCH**
It’s been a long time since we saw Union put up a 50-piece in a high school football game (October 2020). On Saturday, the Red Hawks almost scored 60. Union scored 49 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a rout of their rivals, Ottawa Hills, at Houseman Field, 59-12.
The game started out very fast paced with both teams scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Najeh Thornton got things started for the Red Hawks with a five-yard touchdown run on the opening series. Bengals running back, Keymarion Gibson, matched the Red Hawks score with a two-yard touchdown of his own.
The rest of the first half was a defensive struggle, with Union going into the locker room clinging to a small 10-6 advantage. Union got three additional points on the last play of the half, as Diego Gonzales booted a 24-yard field goal.
The third quarter started off with a bang as Bengals’ wide receiver Willie Duke returned the second half kickoff 90 yards to the house to give the Bengals the lead, 12-10, just 15 seconds into the half. This lead would not last long, however, as Red Hawks’ senior quarterback, Tommy Stevens, scored from 35 yards out on a sensational play with his legs only 24 seconds later. From there, the Red Hawks would take flight and never look back.
Whether it was penalties, turnovers, or simply good defense by Union, Ottawa Hills was simply unable to gather and maintain any sort of momentum in the second half. Their mistakes constantly set the Red Hawks up with great field position, including a botched snap on a punt that went out of the back of the end zone and resulted in a safety. On the ensuing kickoff, Chris Ware-Murphy returned the ball 55 yards to the end zone to give the Red Hawks a commanding 32-12 lead that would only swell in the final quarter and a half.
Tommy Stevens ended the afternoon with 15 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns for Union. Running back Elijah Taylor added another 16 carries for 125 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Bengals were led by Gibson, who only had 12 touches for a little over 90 yards. Union rushed for 353 yards, while Ottawa Hills had 116 total yards
The Red Hawks move to 1-0 on the season and have now defeated the Bengals for the second consecutive year (a correction from the preview of the game where I said that Ottawa Hills won last year). The Bengals slide to 0-1. Union will return to Houseman Field next week to host Detroit Osborn, while Ottawa Hills is on the road at Benton Harbor.