It was a packed house on Friday night when the Spartans opened up the gridiron for the first time in the 2022 season. Emery was looking to get into the win column, while Union was focused on continuing its strong start.
One of the Cougar stars is playmaking receiver Alec Labrum, who came into the contest with four touchdowns in three games and over 120 yards receiving per contest. Sure enough, the Union offense went right to Labrum on the opening drive and he danced his way across the field for a big gain.
Quarterback Jackson Rasmussen went right back to Labrum, but this time it went through the receiver’s hands and right into Treg Miller’s mitts for the interception. The Spartans took over on Union’s 45 and the first play from scrimmage appeared to be a jet sweep with Miller. That was until Miller looked to throw and found Creek Sharp, who finished off the play in the end zone for the score. After a blocked point after (PAT), the Spartans had their first lead of the season, 6-0.
Emery’s defense was excellent in the first half. It forced three consecutive punts, including one three-and-out, over the next three Union possessions. Meanwhile Emery was more consistent moving the ball with quick passes to its receivers outside.
The Spartans were stopped on four plays inside the five, but they immediately got the ball back. Wade Stilson then found Miller on a back shoulder fade down the left sideline for the touchdown. Emery elected to go for two and Stilson kept it to himself on a naked bootleg for the conversion.
Sebatian Hennes picked off Rasmussen on the ensuing possession to keep the driving Cougars off the board. With under a minute and 30 in the half, Union was driving and found Labrum for the score. An encroachment penalty on the PAT put the ball on the one yard-line, where Union successfully went for two to make it 14-8.
Emery continued to be aggressive, but failed to move the ball and take up a lot of time, giving Union a chance to add to its score. The Cougars continued to move down the field. On the last play of the half, rather then attempt a long field goal, they threw it up in the end zone to Labrum. Miller could not have played better defense and he was there to high-point the ball for his second interception.
Emery failed to go back up by two scores on its opening possession of the half, while Union’s offense continued to build its momentum. The Cougars went down the field and scored a touchdown for their first lead of the game, 15-14.
Emery answered with a touchdown drive of its own, capped off by a three-yard run by Dane Sitterud. The Spartans again attempted a two-point conversion, but Stilson’s pass fell incomplete. The Cougars’ offense picked up right where they left off as they quickly entered Spartan territory. This time, however, Emery’s defense kept them out of the end zone and Union was forced to settle for a field goal.
Up 20-18 with under nine minutes remaining, Emery had a chance to score a touchdown and ice the game. The Spartans made it into Cougar territory, but could not convert on the fourth down. Another good defensive stand gave the ball back to the Spartans just over the two-minute mark.
Sitterud broke loose for a big gain on the first play and put Emery at midfield. The Spartans were unable to get another first down and ultimately gave the ball back to the Cougars. Starting on their own 20-yard line with no timeouts, Union had an uphill battle. The Cougars made it to midfield, but Emery made the final stop as time ran out to seal the 20-18 victory.
The Tram Electric Player of the Game went to Miller for his excellent play on both sides of the ball. He finished with six receptions for 73 yards, one passing and one receiving touchdown, six tackles and two interceptions while keeping Labrum to just 85 yards.
Stilson went 24-37 for 264 yards and a touchdown for a quarterback rating of 94.9. Sharp also had a night, bringing down nine receptions for 164 yards and a score. Defensively, Peyton Alton led the team with six tackles while Sitterud recorded five tackles and two sacks. Easton Thornley and Kelby Jones also created havoc in the backfield and recorded one sack each.
The Coal Bowl rolls into town this week for homecoming, only adding fuel to the Carbon (2-2)/Emery (1-2) rivalry. Be sure to catch all of the action live on ETV Channel 10 and etvnews.com/livesports.