HUDSON, MI. — The Union City Chargers saw their magical 2022 season come to a rocky end Friday night, falling to the number two ranked Hudson Tigers from Division 7 in the MHSAA district semifinals by a score of 50-13.
The Hudson Tigers, the defending Division 8 state champions, took control of the game early in the third quarter with 22 points in a span of eight minutes, completely turning around a relatively close game at the half.
The game started with a couple of punts as neither team was able to do much on their first drive, with Hudson going three and out while Union City was able to get a first down before being forced to punt.
Hudson took charge of his second possession near midfield with just under seven minutes remaining in the first quarter and set about grinding the ball down the field, utilizing his very physical running game led by backs Brendan Akers and Easton. Strodtman. The Tigers would eventually find profitable ground in the series, scoring on Akers’ 2-yard touchdown run. Akers finished the series with a 2-point conversion, giving Hudson an 8-0 lead with 1:59 left in the first quarter.
Union City’s offense continued to spin its wheels early, going three and out on its next possession after a sack on third down and long, which led to another punt. Hudson took charge this time at the 40-yard line to start the second quarter of play.
The Chargers’ defensive front showed a ton of heart and guts, slowing down Hudson’s usually potent running game early on, which led to another punt by Tiger early in the second quarter, giving the Chargers possession at the 23-yard line. with 11:05 remaining in the half. . After a completion from Eli Payne to Rick Austin led to an apparent first down, an illegal blindside block by the Chargers negated the long gain and first down, again leading to a long third. Payne’s next pass came off his target’s shoulder pads and went straight into the hands of a Hudson defender for an interception, giving the Tigers their first turnover of the game. In addition to the return yards, the Chargers called a personal foul, giving Hudson possession at the 19-yard line with 9:21 remaining in the quarter. Two plays later, Hudson’s quarterback Anthony Arredondo found teammate Ambrose Horwath in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown throw and catch. The 2-point conversion didn’t go over well, giving Hudson a 14-0 lead with 9:14 left in the half.
Union City wasn’t going to go that easy, not after the year they’ve had, so they dug deep and responded with a long scoring drive of their own. Behind the hard running of Riley Laird and the hard blocking of his great offensive line, the Chargers moved quickly down the field. It was his passing attack that got Union City into the end zone for the first time when Payne found teammate Rick Austin on a one-way route, scoring on a 33-yard touchdown pass to close the score at 14- 7 after Jason Shoop’s extra point with 4:57 left in the half.
Hudson had plenty of time and all of his timeouts on their next possession as they looked to rebuild their lead before the half. The Tigers again found great success in the air as Arredondo continued to find Horwath on big play after big play. Union City adjusted and drove Horwath closer to the end zone, but the adjustment left teammate Brennen Marshall alone on a seam route, leading to a 25-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversions were good, giving Hudson a 22-7 lead before the halftime break to make adjustments.
It was the Tigers who controlled the start of the second half, exploding for a quick 22 points to put the game out of reach. Union City’s first possession of the second half showed some early promise, but a pair of tackles for a loss quickly led to a turnover of opportunities. Hudson capitalized on his early defensive effort, taking his first possession of the second half quickly down the field. The Tigers finally found the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run by Strodtman, extending Hudson’s lead to 30-7.
Disaster struck Union City on the ensuing kickoff when a Hudson onside kick attempt ricocheted off the Union City front row player and was recovered by a Tigers player, returning possession to Hudson in an instant. After Arredondo’s long pass play to Horwath pushed Hudson inside the 10-yard line on the following drive, Strodtman scored once again, this time on a 4-yard touchdown run. With the extra point missed, the Tigers suddenly took firm control, leading 36-7 with 8:31 remaining in the third quarter.
Hudson capped his 22-point surge in the third quarter after Union City’s offense fell short on one down and four down on their next drive, prompting a turnover on opportunities in the game. 36-yard line with 5:58 left to play. in the third quarter. The Tigers used a handful of big passing plays from Arredondo to Horwath to move quickly down the field once again, quickly finding themselves in the red zone. Once again, it was Strodtman who found profitable ground, this time scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was successful, extending the Tigers’ lead to 44-7 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
However, Union City didn’t give up at all, getting back into the air on their next drive and moving the ball down the field as the seconds ticked by in the third quarter. Union City finally found itself inside the 10-yard line as time expired in the third quarter, heading into the fourth quarter losing 44-7.
Union City only needed a handful of plays in the fourth quarter to find the end zone, finally scoring on a third-and-goal from the 6-yard line, this time it was Payne who found Zehr in the air on the touchdown. spend. The two-point conversion did not go over well, closing the score at 44-13 with 10:38 remaining in the game.
Despite the Chargers’ show of heart, the night belonged to Hudson, as the Tigers had little trouble moving down the field on their next drive, driving the final nail into the proverbial coffin with a 12-yard touchdown run from Brendan Akers, extending the lead. at 50-13 with 7:37 on the clock.
Union City looked to get back in the air on their next possession as Payne looked for Zehr down the sideline once again. However, a Hudson defender made a big play on a jump ball, snagging the interception and essentially putting the game out for good. Tigre’s offense ran out the rest of the clock, preserving the 50-13 victory.
Hudson doubled Union City in terms of yards, outscoring the Chargers 369-180. The Tigers ran Union City 214-70 while also taking the lead through the air, beating Union City 155-110. Those discrepancies in yards mixed with the extreme difference in penalties assessed to each team proved to be too much for the Chargers to overcome in the end.
The Tigers doubled up on Union City on first downs with an 18-9 lead, though the two teams were nearly identical on third-down conversions. Hudson was 5-for-12 on third down while Union City was 6-for-11, though Hudson made the money on him on fourth down, converting four of five on fourth down.
Turnovers were also a big key, as Union City lost three total turnovers, including two interceptions and a fumble, while Hudson didn’t turn the ball over once.
Union City was led on the night running the ball by young Riley Laird, who ran with all his heart, carrying the ball 23 times for 77 yards.
Second-year quarterback Eli Payne went 7-for-13 for 110 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. Leading the receiving corps on the night was Rick Austin with three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Jeremy Zehr had three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Garrett Halder also made a catch for four yards.
Hudson was led on the night by Easten Strodtman, who had 28 carries for 177 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Ambrose Horwath had a great night catching the ball, making six catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Union City was led on the night by Owen Jackson with nine tackles; Colton Russell, Aiden Decker, Phoenix Elkins and Landyn Crance with seven tackles each; Tyler Wagley and Luke Watson with five tackles, including one for loss; and Grady Iobe with three tackles.
Hudson’s defensive stats were not available.
With the win, Hudson improves to 9-1 overall on the season and now advances to the MHSAA Division 7 District Finals, where they will face Jackson Lumen Christi. Lumen Christi advanced to the district finals after defeating his first round opponent, Homer, by a score of 41-7. The two teams will meet in Jackson next Friday for the District Two title.
With the heavy loss, Union City sees its tremendous 2022 season come to an end with a 7-3 record overall but a Big 8 conference championship under its belt. Union City will now say goodbye to several key seniors, including All Conference honorees Grady Iobe, Tyler Wagley, Phoenix Elkins, Jakob Fosmore and Colton Russell. Garrett Halder, Luke Watson, Austin Jeffries and Alex Hull will also be leaving due to their graduation to Union City.
However, the Chargers will bring back a lot of talent next season, so the closet is far from empty. Returning season six will feature leading running backs Riley Laird and Dylon MacDonald, leading passer Eli Payne, leading receivers Rick Austin and Jeremy Zehr, starting offensive lineman Hunter Gillies and defensive backs Aidan Decker, Landyn Crance, Dakota Stadel, Ryan Zweng, Owen Jackson, Caden Hugo and more.
Congratulations to the Union City Chargers for a tremendous 2022 season and congratulations to Hudson for advancing to the Division Seven district finals to face the Lumen Christi Titans.