CALHOUN CITY • East Union and Calhoun City battled for four quarters in the 2A North Half title game on Friday and the Wildcats used a late score to secure the 22-14 win to advance to the 2A State Championship.
East Union had answered each of the two previous touchdowns with one of their own, but the clock finally ran out on the Urchins in the game and for the season.
"That's what a championship game is supposed to be like, this is what it is all about and being able to get to this game, for this to become the expectation of our program year in and year out, is something that is super important," East Union coach Todd Lott said. "These guys have set the bar to where this is what is expected of our program every year."
The winning touchdown came on a 46-yard pass from Jackson Lee to Thomas Clayton with 3:34 left in the game to break a 14-14 tie. Thomas caught the two-point conversion from Lee for the final points and the 22-14 win.
East Union got the ball back at their own 35, but were unable to move the ball and an interception on a deep throw turned the ball back over to the Wildcats who ran out the clock.
Calhoun City scored the game's opening touchdown in the second quarter on Jaylen Artberry's 10-yard run. Lee ran it in for the two-point conversion to give the Wildcats a lead of 8-0 with 7:07 left in the half.
However, East Union struck back immediately as Hayden Roberts gathered in the kickoff and raced back 85 yards to put the Urchins on the scoreboard. Edgar Zapata's kick made it 8-7 with 6:54 to go in the first half.
Calhoun City struck for a second touchdown with 1:52 left in the half as Lee found Artberry for a 34-yard touchdown. The run for two failed and the teams went to half with the Wildcats up 14-7.
The Urchins took the second half kickoff and drove 69 yards in seven plays to tie the contest at 14-14. Micah Fulgham ran 45 yards for the game-tying score.
East Union threatened to score again as they drove to the Wildcat 29 early in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over on downs.
The Urchins would threaten again later in the final period as they reached the Wildcat 35 following Colton Plunk's 64-yard run from his own one yard line, but a fumble two plays later ended that threat for East Union.
"It was a great game, Calhoun City has got a great team and it was a great atmosphere and we appreciate all the support from our fans," Lott said.
Plunk finished the game with 127 yards rushing on 26 carries. Fulgham had 49 yards on two rushing attempts. Roberts caught two passes from Rett Johnson for 20 yards to lead the Urchins.
Lott praised his Urchins for their tenacity and toughness throughout the season which had many challenges due to the coronavirus and injuries. East Union completed the year 10-2.
"This is a tough bunch of kids and they are very resilient, they don't know anything about backing up, they didn't back up from anybody," Lott said. "I think that showed tonight and we played a really good team, we never flinched, we never backed up, we never quit believing we were going to win the game.
"That's really going to help moving forward to continue our program. Our team this season was tough, hard-working and a lot of fun. They are great kids and I just appreciate the opportunity to be here and it is my privilege to coach them. I can't say enough about them, every day going to work was fun and it was a privilege to be here."