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Originally posted September 17, 2012
BY BARRY LEWIS Tulsa World Sports Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
Union senior safety Chase Dahlquist made amends Friday night for a mistake that cost his team a chance at a comeback victory last week.
Dahlquist's 34-yard interception return for his first career touchdown with 4:11 left proved to be the difference in Class 6A top-ranked Union's 26-21 victory over No. 2 Broken Arrow before 7,500 fans at Union-Tuttle Stadium.
"I feel a lot better now," Dahlquist said. "It was a tough week."
Last Saturday, Dahlquist's fumbled punt sealed Euless (Texas) Trinity's 21-18 victory over Union.
"I couldn't be more proud of Chase," Union coach Kirk Fridrich said.
Union (2-1) was clinging to a 20-14 lead when Dahlquist picked off Coleman Key's pass and raced to the end zone. It came at nearly the same time in the game as Coleby Evans' 30-yard fumble return for a touchdown that gave Union a 23-22 win over Broken Arrow in last year's state title final.
"I knew we needed a big clutch play," Dahlquist said. "I was looking for them to run on the play, then I saw the quarterback pop up and saw a running back came across, I read the quarterback's eyes and jumped the route."
After Cre Moore returned the ensuing kickoff to the 50, Key completed a 44-yard pass to Alex Lewis at the 1. Three plays later, Key scored on a 1-yard run to cut the Tigers' deficit to 26-21 with 2:19 left.
Broken Arrow (1-2) had three timeouts remaining, so it did not try an onside kick. Union, however, converted a third-and-8 as Hunter Atyia connected with Chris Hall on a 39-yard pass. Two plays later, Atyia passed 10 yards to Hall for the clinching first down.
"We knew we had to get first downs, although we also have trust in our defense and they played a good game," said Atyia, who passed for 291 yards - 29 more than in the first two games combined. "I had two picks and those were both on me, but other than that everybody was on cue and it was awesome."
Atyia completed 19-of-28 passes with two TDs. Hall caught six passes for 103 yards and a TD. Union's Jeffery Mead had six receptions for 130 yards, including a 66-yard bomb late in the first half to snap a 7-7 tie.
Broken Arrow coach Steve Spavital was "very proud" of his team's effort.
"These kids don't quit," Spavital said. "It's just what we've been doing all year. We've been beating ourselves with mental mistakes. We did it in Game 1, Game 2, Game 3. We've got to reduce that. We started faster. We're making some ground. We just have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes. The kids played hard, and that's what I told them, that I was proud of them and we'll get better.
"Our first goal was to win two of the three and we didn't do that. But I told them we can win our next goal, which is to be district champions. So we've got to keep improving and do things and I think we're going to be OK. We've just got to quit shooting ourselves in the foot."
Alex Brown, a junior linebacker in his first start, recovered two fumbles for the Redskins, who were wearing new uniforms with red pants and numbers with gray jerseys. Union, without five injured starters on defense, came up with four turnovers.
"Bottom line is we put some kids in that are just new and inexperienced in a situation with Owasso, Bentonville and Union," Spavital said. "That's tough. You're asking a kid with no experience to shine, to be a difference-maker and he's never been in the fire, some of these kids. So real crucial learning in these games, and we've got to get better."
Broken Arrow's defense held Terrel Buchanan to 77 yards on 21 carries, with 36 yards coming on one play. Union's leading rusher this season, Justin Silmon, was out with a strained muscle.
Key completed 11-of-19 passes for 100 yards and two TDs. Broken Arrow's Cameron Wrenn had 17 rushes for 63 yards but suffered an ankle injury late in the game. His status is undetermined. His teammate, Warren Leak, added 15 carries for 59 yards.
Union gambled on the game's first possession when it was stopped on fourth-and-1 at its 35. Six plays later, the Tigers took a 7-0 lead as Key scrambled and fired a 17-yard pass to Wrenn, who dived just inside the right pylon for the TD.
Brown's fumble recovery at the Broken Arrow 46 set up Union's tying touchdown. Seven plays later, Atyia dived into the end zone on a 3-yard run with 2:11 left in the first period.
In the second quarter, Mead's 66-yard TD catch gave the Redskins a 14-7 lead with 4:03 left.
Atyia completed a 14-yard TD pass to Hall on the fourth period's second play, following Devon Davis' fumble recovery. Key's 16-yard TD pass to Jaylon Calhoun cut Union's lead to 20-14 with 8:20 left.
"I expected this was going to be a dogfight and it was," Atyia said.
Union 26, Broken Arrow 21