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West Fork fends off North Union football by 1

END AROUND — North Union receiver Brendan Anderson (10) sprints past West Fork defensive back Brett Weaver (3) on an end-around run during Iowa Class A, District 3 football action Friday night in Armstrong. The Warhawks went on to edge the hometown Warriors, 13-12. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ARMSTRONG — North Union came inches from a comeback win.

With less than 2 minutes left, the Warrior defense forced a West Fork Warhawks’ punt, giving the offense a shot at a 54-yard drive with 1:10 remaining in the game and a seven-point deficit.

Noah Morphew then heaved a pass downfield to Brendan Anderson running a corner route. Anderson got behind his defender, and without any safety back to help out, raced to the end zone for the 54-yard score.

Trailing by one, the Warriors went for the win. Morphew threw to Anderson on a crossing route, but Anderson fell as he reached for the ball and West Fork walked away with a 13-12 football win.

The Iowa Class A, District 3 matchup in Armstrong was the final game for both teams. North Union finished its season with a record of 2-7, while West Fork ended at 5-4.

North Union head coach Matt Ernster said this game was the epitome of the past two seasons.

“I think our second half was tremendous,” Ernster said. “We were getting gashed a little bit in the first half, we were kind of playing a guessing game with them about which gap they were going to hit. We made some adjustments and I thought our guys’ effort was unbelievable. … That ending where we scored with a minute to go, we were just trying to get the ball to our playmakers. It’s just close, feels like that’s been our story the past two seasons. We’re close or one play short, but I’m so proud of these guys.”

The Warhawks took the lead on their initial drive.

After stopping the Warriors and forcing a punt, Ian Latham carried West Fork to a 13-play, 74-yard scoring drive.

Latham carried the ball eight times for 46 yards, including the final 1-yard score.

Ren Heimer kicked the extra point, putting West Fork ahead 7-0 with 2:44 left in the first quarter.

With less than 5 minutes to go in the first half, the Warriors’ Jacob Bollinger came up with a fumble recovery, but the Warhawks’ Kayden Ames immediately picked off Morphew with a backward-diving, one-handed catch.

West Fork drove down, using 4 of the final 4 1/2 minutes for a eight-play, 55-yard scoring drive.

Devon Geiger and Brett Weaver split carries on the drive, combining for 47 yards on seven carries. Weaver split the defense and walked into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to end the drive.

The extra point was missed, leaving West Fork with a 13-0 lead heading into halftime.

The Warriors amassed only 32 yards of offense in the opening half, but their tone changed in the second half.

North Union out-gained West Fork 195-132 in the second half and put up the only points after the break.

With less than a minute left in the third quarter, the Warriors forced a punt and started an 11-play, 64-yard drive.

Morphew, Ryan Lang and Anderson worked down the field, getting to fourth-and-goal from the 8.

Morphew found Robert Ortman on a crossing route in the end zone for the score with 8:40 left in the game.

Latham led the Warhawks with 24 carries for 171 yards.

Lang led the Warriors with 19 carries for 91 yards, including 15 for 72 in the second half.

Anderson led North Union’s receivers with four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Morphew completed five of 16 passes for 85 yards.

The Warriors celebrated their seniors in their final football game of the year.

Ernster said he was proud of the group and the students mean a lot to him.

“I told them that they’re a special group to me,” Ernster said. “This is my fourth year as a head coach so these guys came in as freshmen with me. We’re gonna miss them like crazy. I just thanked them for their leadership and they’re leaving the program in a good place.”

WF 7 6 0 0 — 13

NU 0 0 0 12 — 12

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

WF–Ian Latham 4 run (Ren Heimer kick), 2:44.

2nd Quarter

WF–Brett Weaver 2 run (kick missed), 0:47.

3rd Quarter

No scoring.

4th Quarter

NU–Robert Ortman 8 pass from Noah Morphew (pass failed), 8:40.

NU–Brendan Anderson 54 pass from Morphew (pass failed), 0:59.

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: West Fork 13; North Union 9. Rushing: WF 53-286; NU 24-142. Passing: WF 0-2-0-0; NU 5-16-1-85. Fumbles-lost: WF 6-3; NU 0-0. Penalties: WF 5-35; NU 2-20.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Offense: Rushing: Ian Latham (WF) 24-171; Ryan Lang (NU) 19-91.

Defense: Interceptions: Kayden Ames (WF). Fumble recoveries: Brendan Anderson (NU) Jacob Bollinger (NU).

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