UNION STAR, Mo. — Union Star coach Ken Boatwright knows his defense can’t stop many offenses for an entire game.
Luckily, the Trojans’ offense make up for the lack of defense. That proved the case for a second straight week for Union Star against Stewartsville.
In Friday night’s 8-man Disrict 3 matchup, Quarterback Nick Palmer threw for 499 yards to lead Union Star to a 48-34 victory over at Trojan Field. Stewartsville lost to the Trojans for the second time in 2 weeks, losing big last Friday when Palmer totaled 10 touchdowns and threw for 303 yards.
The second meeting was a bit better in terms of yardage.
Palmer tossed seven scoring strikes and orchestrated a come-from-behind win to advance the Trojans into the second round of the district tournament, earning a matchup with second-seeded St. Joseph Christian.
All of the offense was welcome due to a Union Star defense that gave up 357 yards on the ground.
“We’re kind of like Baylor,” Boatwright said.”Our defense isn’t really gonna stop anyone so we have to score a ton of points.”
Palmer’s offense sputtered early.
After an interception ended Union Star’s game-opening drive, Stewartsville quickly capitalized. The Cardinals took just more than 2 minutes to drive 50 yards, and sophomore running back Payden Thompson punched in a 2-yard score to give them an early 6-0 lead. Stewartsville scored just more than a minute later and lengthened the lead to 12-0.
Union Star quickly struck back and kept the points coming.
Palmer tossed a 35-yard bomb to junior Sean Kelley to draw within four at 12-8. The senior signal-caller threw three more touchdowns in the second quarter, all coming from at least 36 yards out, to take a commanding 30-18 lead at the half.
Stewartsville also lost a first-half lead in last week’s loss.
“(Stewartsville) was just trying to get pressure to me, and we know how to deal with pressure,” Palmer said.
Union Star (4-5) scored three more times in the second half on long passes to keep its spread offense rolling.
The defense nearly gave up the large lead.
Stewartsville started running more option plays with quarterback Blake Hayes, which Union Star struggled to defend. The sophomore racked up more than half of his 134 yards rushing in the second half — mostly on the option runs, including a late third quarter score that drew the Cardinals within 36-26.
“We were reading what (Union Star’s) secondary was doing on the option and knew that we could keep running it and getting chunks of yards,” Stewartsville coach Nathan Whitmer said.
After numerous options, Stewartsville threw in a wrinkle in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals ran an option reverse to junior receiver Mitchell Boothe, who walked into the end zone, untouched, from 13 yards out to bring the score to 36-34.
The Union Star defense made its most crucial stop of the season on the next Stewartsville drive.
On fourth-and-six from the Trojans’ 16-yard line, the defense finally figured out the option, stopping running back Travis Peaslee short of the first down.
Palmer led the offense back out on the field, and five plays later, he delivered the knockout blow on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Kelley.
“That stop was the game,” Boatwright said. “We kind of have to keep a two-score lead to be able to compete.”