Titans dig a big hole and can’t climb out in state playoff matchup
VANCOUVER — The Sumner Spartans proved worthy enough with how they execute their own stuff on the football field.
Add to that all the mistakes Union made Friday night, and, well, the Spartans ended up earning a trip to the Class 4A state quarterfinals with ease.
Ben Wilson scored on Sumner’s first offensive play — after a miscue by the Union offense — and the Spartans would go on to run all over the Titans in a 42-14 victory at McKenzie Stadium in the first round of the playoffs.
Sumner got a defensive touchdown off a Union fumble.
Sumner recovered a fumble in the end zone after Union started a drive at the Sumner 3-yard line.
Sumner intercepted two passes in the first half.
Wilson finished with 191 yards on the ground. Bryan Falk hit the century mark, too.
Union also suffered from the injury bug. Starting quarterback Lincoln Victor went out just before halftime. Running back Jojo Siofele never played a down on offense.
Combine all of that, and a quality game on paper turned into a mismatch on the field.
Sumner will face Monroe in the quarterfinals.
Before going any deeper into Friday’s result, the Union Titans still had a memorable season. They are the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League champions. They stopped the mighty streaks of the Camas Papermakers. They earned the Week 10 home playoff game. They won that to earn another home game, this one, to open the state playoffs.
“I’m going to be 85 (years old) remembering every single moment of this year. I love these guys to death,” Union senior Aiden Nellor said. “I’m definitely coming back next year. I’d come across the world to see these guys play next year.”
Union coach Rory Rosenbach complimented the senior class for its leadership.
“It wasn’t about ‘them.’ It was about ‘us.’ They held guys accountable,” Rosenbach said. “This team came together because of them.”
The Titans had hoped for this playoff run to last a few more weeks. Instead, they finished with a 9-2 record.
“Tonight, they were the better team,” Nellor acknowledged about the Spartans.
All the Titans, though, were surprised with how the game played out, that final score.
“I knew there were scenarios where they would win the game,” Rosenbach said. “I did not think … They beat us in all three phases of the game.”
Union did nothing on its first possession. The Titans like to use Victor on a quick punt on fourth-down situations. This time, the snap went awry, Victor scrambled and threw an incomplete pass. Sumner ball at the Union 31-yard line.
Next play, Wilson was in the end zone, carrying a bunch of Titans over the final yards.
“I thought I was going down short of the end zone,’’ Wilson said. “Just awesome, though. First play. Touchdown. It just shows how powerful we are. That just fueled the fire for the whole game.”
After another Union punt, the Spartans went 77 yards on 10 plays — all rushing attempts. Falk scored on a 2-yard run.
Another Union disaster was coming, too. The Titans fumbled on their next play from scrimmage, and Blake Tannehill scooped it up and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, making it 21-0 eight minutes into the game.
“Like I said to my guys before the game, ‘A big-time team makes big-time plays in a big-time game,’” Wilson said.
The Titans did show some life on their next drive. Victor found Alishawuan Taylor on a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7, still in the first quarter. So at the time, there was plenty of time for a comeback.
Sumner went to the passing attack, too, and scored on a Luke Ross 53-yard pass to Alex Fraser.
Still, Union was not going away, or so it seemed. Darien Chase returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards to the Sumner 3-yard line. Still hope.
Then another miscue. Union fumbled, Sumner recovered in the end zone, then Sumner went 80 yards on 13 plays with Wilson scoring another touchdown. That made it 35-7 with 4:54 left in the second quarter. That was the game.
Sumner scored first in the second half.
Union did get one final play to celebrate when backup quarterback Carter Sutton threw a swing pass to Chase, who broke free for a 76-yard touchdown.
“I’m super proud of the team,” Rosenbach said. “Proud of how they stayed together. Proud of how they finished this game. They played with class.”
SUMNER 42, UNION 14
Sumner 21 14 7 0 — 42
Union 7 0 0 7 — 14
S – Ben Wilson 31 run (Colton Sigafoos kick)
S – Bryan Falk 2 run (Sigafoos kick)
S – Blake Tannehill 33 fumble return (Sigafoos kick)
U – Alishawuan Taylor 24 pass (Alex Koga kick)
S – Alex Fraser 53 pass from Luke Ross (Sigafoos kick)
S – Wilson 4 run (Sigafoos kick)
S – Ross 1 run (Sigafoos kick)
U – Darien Chase 76 pass from Carter Sutton (Koga kick)
RUSHING: Sumner: Wilson 20-191, Falk 24-102, Tre Weed 8-43, Ross 2-5, Codee Udell 1-(minus 1), Team 2-(minus 2). Union: Elijah Jones 5-10, Victor 5-47, Braedon Ensley 2-1, Carter Sutton 2-(minus 6).
PASSING: Sumner: Ross 4-7-0-100, Weed 0-1-0-0. Union: Victor 7-16-0-56, Sutton 9-18-2-131.
RECEIVING: Sumner: Weed 2-19, Fraser 2-81. Union: Ensley 6-38, Dustin Nettles 2-11, Taylor 2-23, Darien Chase 3-91, Tiernan Stanley 2-14, Aiden Nellor 1-10.