ROCHESTER — It was all about “The U” last night against Rochester.
The Union High football team rolled to its second-straight victory, by knocking off the Rams, 47-14, in WPIAL Class 1A Big Seven Conference play.
“To be quite honest, I’m a bit surprised,” said Union coach Stacy Robinson, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak against the Rams. “I guess we were able to get up on them and get the ball rolling. I expected a fight tonight, and for a while it was. Anytime you can get a win over Rochester, it’s a quality win.”
Union’s last victory against Rochester was a 20-6 verdict on Sept. 4, 2015.
The Scotties piled up 355 yards of total offense and saw five different players — including an offensive lineman — find the end zone as they improved to 2-2 in the Big Seven and 2-4 overall.
“We’re starting to roll,” Union senior quarterback Tyler Benedict said. “Coach ‘Rob’ started to see some holes in the defense, and we just started rocking.”
Things didn’t get off to a great start for Union, as Shenango High graduate Gene Matsook’s Rochester team (0-3, 0-5) grabbed a 6-0 lead when Rashawn Reid broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run. Reid was a bright spot for the Rams, rushing for 93 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game with an injury with 7:37 remaining in the second quarter.
“They had us on our heels,” Robinson said. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning. I guess our kids are getting more seasoned.”
The Scotties answered on their next possession as Benedict capped a four-play, 52-yard drive by scoring from a yard out. Tyler Staub’s kick gave Union a lead it would never relinquish.
Union broke the game open in the second quarter, scoring four times in a span of a little over eight minutes.
Michael Flowers found the end zone on a 5-yard run before grabbed a 12-yard scoring aerial from Benedict that gave the Scotties a 21-6 lead.
Benedict hooked up with Anthony Nealy later in the quarter on a 27-yard TD strike. The senior signal caller completed 11 of 17 passes for 187 yards and the two scores.
“All year, I’d like to think our passing game can work, but the problem is we’ve got to protect,” Robinson said. “Tyler was able to step up and extend some plays, which you’ve got to do as a quarterback. We were able to complete some passes.”
Union closed out the first-half scoring with an odd play, as Rochester’s Ryan McEachern shanked a punt that was fielded by Scotties offensive lineman Nick Vitale. Vitale rumbled into the end zone from 5 yards out to give Union a 35-6 lead at the half.
“If you can get a touchdown on special teams, it’s just a blessing,” Robinson said.
Jackson Clark’s 3-yard run with 8:47 remaining in the third quarter increased the Scotties’ lead to 41-6 and brought the Mercy Rule into play. Clark added a 14-yard TD burst late in the stanza as Union grabbed a 47-6 lead after three.
The Rams’ Zach Franks scored on an 8-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to set the final.