Unity Christian noses out Hinton on gridiron
ORANGE CITY — Unity Christian scored the first 20 points against Gehlen Catholic in the season opener and then saw their lead evaporate in a 27-20 loss. This week, the 20 points was just enough to come away with the win over Hinton in a 20-19 affair.
“I was extremely proud of the effort level we played with all night,” Hinton Head Coach Kadrian Hardersen said. “Unity played a tremendous game and their kids came ready to fight. Hats off to them.”
Unity put the go-ahead points on the board with 10:45 left in the game as Tanner Schouten scored on a 35-yard run. It was the second of his two touchdowns in the game with the first being an 82-yard scoring run as he finished with 138 yards on seven carries.
The Knights got their other touchdown on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Bosma to Logan Franken.
A week after recording a shutout with two defensive touchdowns from Tate Kounkel, the Hinton defense was without Kounkel for most of the night. He left the game early with an injury and never returned to action as he stood on the sidelines out of uniform later in the night.
“I thought we played a very tough game all night,” Hardersen said. “We had several instances of adversity pop up early in the game and our boys did a great job of taking it in stride and picking up the slack. The senior class as a whole stepped up and had to play a lot of new positions on the fly as well as helping some younger kids out that had to be thrown into the game.”
Hinton’s offense took a step forward from their opening week with all three touchdowns coming from them. Beau DeRocher scored the team’s first touchdown late in the opening frame on a 4-yard carry which capped a 7-play, 45-yard drive.
The Blackhawks got their other two scores in close proximity in the third quarter. The second play of their drive resulted in a 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Anderson to Keanen Wieseler to pull the game to within a 14-12 score. Just over a minute later the team was back in the end zone as Anderson kept the ball for a 1-yard run to give Hinton the 19-14 lead. That drive was set up by a Unity fumble deep in their own territory.
“Derek Anderson played his heart out,” Hardersen said. “We asked him to do a lot for us and he was pretty banged up but never made any excuses and wanted the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”
After Unity took back the lead, the Blackhawks had a couple of opportunities in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing kickoff after the Knights’ go-ahead score, Justin Kirwan made a return on a fake reverse which brought the ball back near midfield. He was brought down on a horsecollar tackle which started Hinton’s drive on the Unity side of the field.
“Our return game really gave us a chance to win,” Hardersen said. “Coach Small had the special teams ready to roll all night. Justin Kirwan has done a great job returning kicks and punts for us and seems to have a knack for finding the hole. He’s been a great leader for us on and off the field all year.”
The Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize on the good field position, turning the ball over on downs on an incompletion looking for a receiver deep on a 4th & 12 play.
Hinton forced a punt to get the ball back with decent field position once again at their own 45. Anderson picked up a first down with his legs but the drive stalled on a false start penalty and sack with Unity getting the ball back with 57 seconds left as Dylan Riebeling picked off a pass.
Unity was able to run the clock down to five seconds before reaching fourth down. A bad snap on a punt was picked up and kicked straight into the air where the Knights downed it with time expired as they sealed the win.
Hinton takes a 1-1 record into their next game at home against Lawton-Bronson (1-1). The Eagles beat Akron-Westfield 14-6 in Week 2.