Tulsa World: Union-Broken Arrow rivalry features classic playoff moments

Barry Lewis

On Friday night, Broken Arrow will meet Union in the Class 6A quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. The rivals have a long playoff history — this will be the 12th time they have faced each other in the postseason. Their playoff history dates to 1983 when Broken Arrow defeated Union 16-0 in the 5A quarterfinals — their first meeting in more than 50 years. Union won the next nine postseason matchups against Broken Arrow before the Tigers broke through last year. Below are the five most memorable games in their playoff rivalry:

1. 2011 — Union 23, Broken Arrow 22 (6A final)

Broken Arrow was on the verge of its first state title with a six-point lead and needing only a first down or two to run out the clock. But a missed handoff led to Union linebacker Coleby Evans returning a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown and Austin Butler kicked the winning extra point with 3:51 left before an estimated crowd of 12,000 at Boone Pickens Stadium. Early in the fourth quarter, Broken Arrow threatened to increase its 14-10 lead, but Evans intercepted a pass and returned it 84 yards, setting up Kyle Cutchmer’s go-ahead 1-yard TD run. Broken Arrow, however, quickly regained the lead on Zack Mills’ 40-yard TD pass to Levi Copelin with 9:36 left. Union won its seventh state football title in 10 years.

2. 2019 — Broken Arrow 35, Union 31 (6AI quarterfinal)

Sanchez Banks’ 3-yard TD run with 39 seconds left capped the host Tigers’ comeback. Union led 24-14 going into the fourth quarter before Broken Arrow countered with Jake Raines’ TD passes to Bryce Mattioda and Maurion Horn to take a 28-24 lead. AJ Green’s 8-yard TD run with 4:23 left put Union back ahead 31-28 before Raines led the winning eight-play, 79-yard drive. Raines passed for 217 yards while Banks had 30 carries for 155 yards and three TDs. Union’s Rovaughn Banks accounted for 243 yards and two TDs, and Green had 24 rushes for 192 yards and two TDs.

3. 1999 — Union 34, Broken Arrow 33, OT (6A quarterfinal)

Jerome Janet blocked Aaron Sanders’ extra-point kick to end the overtime battle before 9,000 fans at Union-Tuttle Stadium. Sanders’ 42-yard field goal tied the game at 27 with 3:07 left. Union’s OT touchdown came on Jason York’s 6-yard run and Jake Gibbons kicked the extra point. Broken Arrow answered with Mickey Nichol’s 7-yard pass to Matt Strange — his third TD of the night — before Janet’s heroics. The win paved the way for Union to reach the state final two weeks later against Jenks before 40,385 fans at Skelly (now H.A. Chapman) Stadium.

4. 2002 — Union 52, Broken Arrow 3 (6A final)

Spencer McIllwain rushed for 219 yards and scored five touchdowns as Union capped a 14-0 season and won its first large-school state title. It also was the first state title for coach Bill Blankenship, who had led Union to four state finals in the previous eight seasons. Union’s defense came up with five turnovers, including Billy Lewis’ three interceptions. Union, with quarterback Jake Spavital, scored four TDs in a seven-minute span in the second quarter to take a 31-3 halftime lead before 16,485 fans at Skelly Stadium. It was Broken Arrow’s first appearance in the state final.

5. 2013 — Union 30, Broken Arrow 18 (6A semifinal)

Defensive back Jack Alspaugh had two pivotal plays to lead Union. Alspaugh scored his first career touchdown after blocking a second-quarter punt, and tackled Devon Thomas for a 34-yard loss in the fourth quarter to derail the Tigers’ rally before 9,000 fans at Owasso Stadium. Union’s Mason Farquhar passed for 205 yards and two TDs while Tyler Adkins had 132 total yards and two TDs. Broken Arrow’s Coleman Key passed for 193 yards and two TDs.

— Barry Lewis, Tulsa World