RIMERSBURG – Even with an hour-long lightning strike delay, the Union Knights’ momentum could not be stopped Friday night.
Brody Shick snatched three interceptions, and Kaden McGregor found the endzone on two runs to sack Punxsy on the gridiron, 21-6.
On the first play after a 14-play, 72-yard Chucks' scoring drive to tie the game 6-6, McGregor took a reverse from his slot position and burst through the defense for a 72-yard touchdown.
Punxsy could not find a scoring answer a second time, as Garrett Zimmerman was picked off in Union territory for the second time by Shick on the next drive. Following a Knights’ punt, Zimmerman was picked off a third time in the contest, this time by Keenan Rankin at the Chucks 28-yard line.
Union flipped the turnover into points two plays later when Cody Kline rushed in to score from 25 yards to extend the margin to 21-6. Punxsy was able to drive into Union territory one last time but found the same result, with Shick snatching his third Zimmerman pass out of the air to seal the Union victory by the 21-6 margin.
“Union won the battle in the trenches and made it tough running for us all game,” said Chucks head coach Alan Nichol. “We have a lot to learn and it will be up to us to make it happen from here.”
The Chucks (1-1) suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Knights after taking both meetings in the 2008 and 2009 campaigns. Union improves to 2-0 on its early season.
Despite the final result, Punxsy won the yardage comparison, 256-213.
Christian Falgout rushed 17 times for a team-high 73 yards with Jamie Bush garnering 62 yards on 13 rushes. Zimmerman completed just nine of 23 pass attempts for 95 yards with a 13-yard scoring strike to Bush, but had four interceptions, as well.
Four Chucks caught a pair of passes apiece with Alex Bevak covering 27 yards on his two while Clayton Dale had 25 yards. Matt Burkett and Falgout added two receptions each.
Union saw McGregor surpass the 100-yard barrier with 105 yards on seven carries including the long 72-yard run.
Kline added 73 yards on 10 carries, as the Knights totaled 196 yards on the ground. Shick completed just three passes in eight tries for 17 yards but his three interceptions were the big blow to Punxsy’s offense.
Leading 6-0 at the half, Union came out with the ball in the second half but could not get out of its end.
Punxsy decided to drive down the field for what would be its lone score of the night.
Taking over on their own 28-yardline, the Chucks put together a 14-play drive with 11-straight runs to start covering 59 yards with rushes alternating between Bush and Falgout.
Zimmerman attempted two passes with one incompletion and one tipped ball to setup 4th-and-eight.
The Chucks’ QB hit Bush, and he ran in for the 13-yard score to tie the game, 6-6, with 1:19 left in the third.
In the opening half, which saw a lightning strike delay, Union showed it had the momentum on both sides of "Mother Nature."
On the second Chucks’ possession, Bush took the ball through the line and fumbled but Falgout recovered on Punxsy's 41-yard line for the game’s first first down.
The momentum turned out to be short lived as Zimmerman was picked off down the right side by Brody Shick on the Union 39-yardline.
The Knights’ Kline ran a quick rush through the line for 25 yards, the biggest gainer to that point of the first quarter. Union ran two more times for nine yards to complete a scoreless first quarter.
Kline added to his early total with nine yards on two more carries for 38 yards of the 43 on the drive to the Chucks 20-yard line.
Lightning would make its presence felt with 11:12 on the clock in the second quarter to delay the contest for just over an hour.
The delay did not hurt the Knights’ offensive momentum. QB Shick ran for four yards, and another five were added on a Punxsy face mask penalty to take the ball down to the nine.
On the next snap, Shick pitched it to wideout McGregor, who came around from the right side and burst through for the nine-yard touchdown at 10:49 in the second. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete to keep the game at 6-0.
Punxsy tried to answer with its best drive to that point on the night. After two runs for 10 yards by Falgout, Bush rumbled down the middle for 19 yards.
Falgout followed suit with his own 17-yard run down to the home 36-yard line. But the drive quickly fizzled four plays later, where a 4th-and-seven pass from Zimmerman went incomplete.
Both teams saw potentially good drives stall with the passing games failing to connect for back-to-back punts. On the Punxsy punt, Chet Carmichael ran the return 35 yards back to the original line of scrimmage at the visiting 46-yard line.
After three plays totaling 13 yards to the Punxsy 32-yardline, Union’s Shick dropped back to pass, only to have Will Curtis wrestle him down for a 17-yard sack. Shick threw an incompletion to force a punt two plays later.
Even though Punxsy outgained Union 104-73 in the first 24 minutes, the Knights led 6-0.
Punxsy returns home next Friday night to face the DuBois Beavers in a 7 p.m. kickoff.