GUYS MILLS — Pinned at its 3-yard line by a punt early in the fourth quarter, Maplewood just needed to run to clear some space for its offense. After all, the Tigers held a 20-8 lead.
Well, running back Kaleb Donor had other plans. He hit the seam hard down the left side of the field. All it took was one cut for Donor to be off to the races. His 97-yard touchdown run tied the school record set by Miller Peters back in 2013, while also putting the game on ice and driving the Maplewood fans into a frenzy.
“I saw my guys and they formed me the perfect hole,” said Donor. “I had one guy to beat and after I beat him I knew I had that touchdown.”
That touchdown was part of a big second half where Maplewood stormed away from Union City for a 34-8 victory in a big Region 3 contest on Friday night at Maplewood Stadium.
“It’s huge. This is kind of where we’ve always been. We’re always in a game for first place or like somewhere around there at this point in the season for the past four years. And we’ve done terrible,” said Maplewood head coach Bryan Borkovich. “This is huge for us, huge for the kids. Hopefully, we’re kind of taking the next step and not being like all the other teams and folding a bit under the pressure.”
Maplewood (6-0, 3-0 Region 3) opened with a strong start. In five plays, the Tigers rolled 60 yards and closed with a 12-yard run from Donor to take a 6-0 lead.
Union City followed with a 13-play drive of its own, but a fumbled snap at the Maplewood 11 shut down the Bears’ march. The Bears lost the turnover battle 3-0 with two fumbles and an interception.
“The turnovers completely changed the game, no doubt about it,” said Union City head coach Randy Gunther.
Maplewood quickly found pay dirt again. J.D. McFadden hit Jesse McFadden on an out route and the wideout did the rest. One quick move and he sprinted home for a 12-0 lead.
Maplewood had a chance to increase its lead early in the second quarter, but a Jason McFadden touchdown was called back after a penalty and the Tigers’ drive stalled from there.
Union City (3-3, 2-1 Region 3) took advantage with a 15-play slog down the field that took 8:26 off the clock. The Bears converted three third downs and two fourth downs on the drive, culminating in a touchdown pass from Austin Jaquith to Marshall VanTassel as time expired in the half. A 2-point conversion from Tallin Henry made it 12-8 at the break.
“Hats off to Union City. The line, I thought, was good on film and they were good in person,” Borkovich said. “The line gets off the football, their quarterback is a good athlete, they run hard, the backs are all good players. You can’t go half-speed.”
After, three stalled drives to start the third quarter, Maplewood got its big breakthrough. J.D. McFadden countered a Bears blitz with a swing pass over to Donor that sprung him free for a 30-yard gain. Two plays later, J.D. threw a perfect pass to Levi Butryn in the corner for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
“(A Union City player) blitzes, he’s right there, I got no one for him. And J.D. throws it because he knows where Levi is supposed to be,” Borkovich added.
In the fourth, Donor’s long run and McFadden’s 20-yard rush opened up the lead to 34-8.
Donor ended up leading all rushers with 172 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.
“Kaleb, he’s fast and he can run hard and the line’s doing a good job giving him lanes,” Borkovich said.
J.D. McFadden went 9-for-15 for 225 yards and two touchdown passes while adding one on the ground.
Jesse McFadden caught three passes for 86 yards and a score.
For Union City, Jaquith tallied 102 yards on 15 rushes. He also was 3-for-11 for 28 yards, a touchdown and an interception.