Fumble Return Lifts Union Past Broken Arrow, 23-22
Coleby Evans came up with two huge plays in the fourth quarter, including a 32-yard fumble return with 3:51 remaining that lifted Union to a 23-22 victory over Broken Arrow in the Class 6A state championship game at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.
Broken Arrow had taken a 22-16 lead on Zac Mills' third touchdown pass of the night, a 40-yard strike to Levi Copelin. The Tigers then took over with less than four minutes to play, but a fumble by Devin Thomas was scooped up by Evans, who rumbled 32 yards to the end zone.
U - Hunter Atyia 18 run (7:26) B - Zac Mills 90 pass to Will Armstead (9:00) U - Austin Butler 21 FG (0:09) B - Ware 17 pass from Mills (2:54) U - Kyle Crutchmer 2 run (extra point failed) (10:43) B - Mills 40 pass to Levi Copelin. (Mills 2pt pass to Ware) (9:36) U - Evans 32 fumble return. (3:51)
Broken Arrow had one last shot, but on a fourth and eight with 14 seconds left, Mills was intercepted by Chase Dahlquist to end the threat.
The big play by Evans gave Union its fourth consecutive state championship and extends to 16 consecutive years the stranglehold Union and Jenks have had on the 6A title game. Union won its final three playoff games by a single point.
Evans' other big play came when the Tigers appeared to be on its way to taking control of the game.
A 17-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Quad Ware had given the Tigers a 14-10 lead late in the third quarter and the Tigers had the ball in scoring range again early in the fourth when Mills' pass was intercepted by Evans.
The sophomore linebacker returned the ball 85 yards inside the five yard line and on the next play, Kyle Crutchmer scored to give Union a 16-14 lead. The extra point try failed.
Mills bounced back on the ensuing drive, finding Copelin across the middle on the 40-yard strike. He added a two-point pass to Ware to put the Tigers back on top, 22-16 with 9:36 remaining.
The three-time defending champion Redskins (13-1) took an early 7-0 lead when Hunter Atyia scored on an 18-yard run with 7:26 remaining in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Broken Arrow stopped a potential scoring drive for the Redskins, who opted to punt from the BA 29 yard line. The pooch punt pinned the Tigers at the 10-yard line, but on the next play, Mills hit Will Armstead with a 90-yard touchdown pass to knot the score.
Broken Arrow forced a punt and was driving when Union's Sterling Thomas came up with an interception. The Tiger D again stiffened and forced what appeared to be a Redskins punt. But, punter Kaylor Pearson took off, breaking a 45-yard run down to the five yard line.
Broken Arrow's defense held and forced a 21-yard Austin Butler field goal with nine seconds left in the first half.
The Tigers (12-2) were looking for their first football title.
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