BY DENNIS CLAYTON
OKOLONA – East Union used their running game to grind out a 21-12 win over Houlka in their 2014 season opener on Thursday. East Union rushed for 200 yards and distributed the work between four runners including quarterback Lane Plunk.
“Defensively, I thought we looked pretty good, East Union coach Scott Duley said. “One touchdown scored at the end of the half was my fault, not our players fault. Offensively, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we did not execute well, we fumbled the ball, we had penalties.”
East Union jumped out to a quick lead and then had to rely on their defense to hold Houlka scoreless in the second half despite the fact that Houlka ran nearly twice as many plays as the Urchins did during the final two periods.
East Union got on the scoreboard in the first quarter with 1:52 left as Cage West scored from the three to put the Urchins up 6-0. Lane Plunk added the PAT and East Union led 7-0. The Urchins had a short field to work with and drove 35 yards in seven plays.
The Urchins scored again on their next possession, driving 40 yards in four plays. The touchdown came on a three yard pass from Plunk to Zane Wilkinson with 10:04 left in the second quarter. Plunk’s PAT made the score 14-0.
Houlka wasted little time in getting in the end zone as they took only three plays to march 49 yards. The touchdown was scored on a Tyreque Reed 39 yard run at 8:28 in the second quarter. The run attempt failed.
East Union failed to run out the clock before the half ended and Houlka took possession with two seconds left. Reed hit a wide open Frankie Young with a 32 yard strike to narrow the score to 14-12, but again East Union stuffed the run attempt for two and the teams went to half with that score.
East Union took possession first in the second half but gave it away on a fumble at the 50 yard line. The Urchin defense rose to the challenge and forced a punt after Houlka had moved the ball as far as the Urchin 37. The punt was blocked and East Union recovered to end the threat.
East Union would score the game’s final touchdown with 11:19 left in the game as West scored his second touchdown of the night, this time from eight yards out. Plunk connected on the PAT and the Urchins led by the final winning margin of 21-12.
Chase Hall led all rushers with 66 yards and Cage West had 61 yards and two touchdowns. Jamie McCullough added 45 yards, all in the first half.
Plunk was 4-9 passing for 50 yards and one touchdown. Wilkinson had the reception for the touchdown.
“It was amazing, my first quarterback start I’ve had,” East Union quarterback Lane Plunk said. “I got those butterflies on the way down here, but once I stepped on the field, it just went away. We had those mix-ups, but we just pushed through and kept going, we held them to zero in the second half.”
Duley mentioned the play of linebacker Jessie Keller as being key for the Urchins. East Union had several players that saw the field for the first time on Thursday.
“I was very proud of our defensive line, I thought they did a good job,” Duley said. “I was pleased with our defensive effort. We got tired and when your kids get tired, you’re just happy to get the W and move on.”