ARMSTRONG - The North Union Warriors football team managed to grind out its second victory during the final game of the season by shutting out the Okoboji Pioneers, 13-0, during an Iowa Class 1A, District 1 game on Friday night in Armstrong.
The Warriors, who started the season with a 20-13 win over the Estherville Lincoln Central Midgets, had not won another game this season until Friday.
North Union's special teams scored the first touchdown of the night in the second quarter.
OPEN-FIELD TACKLE — North Union linebacker Garrett Johnson makes an open-field tackle on Okoboji running back Mark Nielsen during regular-season Iowa Class 1A, District 1 football action on Friday night in Armstrong. Photo Courtesy of Chloe Rosdail/Estherville Daily News
After the Warrior defense had forced the Pioneers to punt from their 10-yard line, Austin Minnmann came flying around the edge and made a leaping block on the Okoboji punt. Minnmann then scooped the ball up on the seven and ran it easily into the end zone for the score. Jacob Govern's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 4:58 left in the first half.
In the final 20 seconds of the opening half, Pioneers quarterback Jordan Hanna completed a 38-yard pass to Mark Nielsen to put the ball on the 15-yard line with seconds on the clock.
Hanna threw a pass for an incompletion on first down, before Gabe Goehring pushed through the line for a five-yard run, putting the ball on the 10.
The Pioneers were left with two attempts to score, and Hanna threw for incompletions to leave the Warriors with a 7-0 lead at half.
"I thought it was a big thing for our defense to stop them right before the half," said North Union co-head coach Troy Adams. "If they score there, they get momentum and who knows how they come out in the second half."
The Warriors were able to come out firing in the second half with an effective running game.
After receiving the kickoff, the Pioneers committed a personal foul to help the Warriors start their possession at the 41.
A 13-yard run from Jacob Braddock helped the Warriors reach the 27, where Cody Runksmeier ran for seven yards to put the ball on the 20. Colton Nicoson caught a 7-yard pass from Braddock on second-and-three to give the Warriors another first down.
Braddock then passed to Matt Adams for six yards on second down from the 16. The Pioneers jumped offsides on a hard count from the Warriors on the ensuing play before Braddock tossed a five-yard floater to Garrett Johnson for the score to make it 13-0 with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
"We talked about this week how Okoboji was 0-7 coming into this game and about how desperate teams do crazy things," said North Union co-head coach Tommy Elliott. "They threw some tricks at us, but we held on and handled it well."
North Union had a chance to score on its second drive of the game, when 10-yard pass from Braddock to Aric Runge put the ball on the 15. A 5-yard run from Braddock followed by Ty Anderson a 7-yard carry gave North Union the ball on the 2. The Pioneer defense held the Warriors at the 1, regaining possession on downs with 1:35 left in the opening quarter.
Defensively, the Warriors only allowed 61 yards rushing and 172 yards passing, with most of that coming on an 82-yard pass from Hanna to Keaton Jones.
Garrett Johnson capped the win for the Warriors by returning the only interception of the game down inside the five on the final play of the game.
"The defense really started off well, and didn't give up in the game. They could have easily let them score a couple touchdowns, but they really held their ground," said Adams. "In the third quarter, they had a drive going and had a chance to score, but we held them and I think that really took the last of the air out of their sails."
Braddock rushed 16 times in the game for 86 yards, while Runksmeier ran 14 times for 24 yards.
Okoboji's Hanna completed 10 of 26 passes for 172 yards with one interception.
Jones led the Pioneer offense with 98 yards on three catches.
North Union finished its season with a 2-7 record, while Okoboji ended its season at 0-9.
Okoboji 0 0 0 0 - 0
NU 0 7 6 0 - 13
NU - Austin Minnmann 7 blocked punt return (Jacob Govern kick), 4:58.
NU - Garrett Johnson 5 yard pass from Jacob Braddock (kick fail), 7:29.
First Downs: Okoboji: 19; North Union 22. Rushing: Okoboji: 27-61; North Union 32-114. Passing: Okoboji: 10-26-1-172; North Union: 4-12-0-31. Fumbles-lost: Okoboji 1-1; North Union: 3-0. Penalties: Okoboji: 10-70; North Union: 1-15.
Offense: Rushing: Jacob Braddock (NU) 16-86; Cody Runksmeier (NU) 14-24; Weston Burgeson (O) 6-18; Gabe Goehring (O) 14-12. Passing: Okoboji: Jordan Hanna (O) 10-26-1-172; Braddock (NU) 4-12-0-31. Receiving: Keaton Jones (O) 3-98; Mark Nielsen (O) 3-64; Cody Runge (NU) 1-11; Jacob Adams (NU) 1-10.
Defense: Fumble recovery: Austin Minnmann (NU). Interception: Garrett Johnson (NU).